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Unikraft: Fast, Specialized Unikernels the Easy Way

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  • Simon Kuenzer
  • Vlad-Andrei Bădoiu
  • Hugo Lefeuvre
  • Sharan Santhanam
  • Alexander Jung
  • Gaulthier Gain
  • Cyril Soldani
  • Costin Lupu
  • Ştefan Teodorescu
  • Costi Răducanu
  • Cristian Banu
  • Laurent Mathy
  • Răzvan Deaconescu
  • Costin Raiciu
  • Felipe Huici
Publication date26/04/2021
Host publicationEuroSys '21: Proceedings of the Sixteenth European Conference on Computer Systems
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781450383349
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Unikernels are famous for providing excellent performance in terms of boot times, throughput and memory consumption, to name a few metrics. However, they are infamous for making it hard and extremely time consuming to extract such performance, and for needing significant engineering effort in order to port applications to them. We introduce Unikraft, a novel micro-library OS that (1) fully modularizes OS primitives so that it is easy to customize the unikernel and include only relevant components and (2) exposes a set of composable, performance-oriented APIs in order to make it easy for developers to obtain high performance.

Our evaluation using off-the-shelf applications such as nginx, SQLite, and Redis shows that running them on Unikraft results in a 1.7x-2.7x performance improvement compared to Linux guests. In addition, Unikraft images for these apps are around 1MB, require less than 10MB of RAM to run, and boot in around 1ms on top of the VMM time (total boot time 3ms-40ms). Unikraft is a Linux Foundation open source project and can be found at www.unikraft.org