SpaceJMP: Programming with multiple virtual address spaces

Izzat El Hajj, Alexander Merritt, Gerd Zellweger, Dejan Milojicic, Reto Achermann, Paolo Faraboschi, Wen Mei Hwu, Timothy Roscoe, Karsten Schwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memory-centric computing demands careful organization of the virtual address space, but traditional methods for doing so are inflexible and inefficient. If an application wishes to address larger physical memory than virtual address bits allow, if it wishes to maintain pointer-based data structures beyond process lifetimes, or if it wishes to share large amounts of memory across simultaneously executing processes, legacy interfaces for managing the address space are cumbersome and often incur excessive overheads. We propose a new operating system design that promotes virtual address spaces to first-class citizens, enabling process threads to attach to, detach from, and switch between multiple virtual address spaces. Our work enables data-centric applications to utilize vast physical memory beyond the virtual range, represent persistent pointer-rich data structures without special pointer representations, and share large amounts of memory between processes efficiently. We describe our prototype implementations in the DragonFly BSD and Barrelfish operating systems. We also present programming semantics and a compiler transformation to detect unsafe pointer usage. We demonstrate the benefits of our work on data-intensive applications such as the GUPS benchmark, the SAMTools genomics workflow, and the Redis key-value store.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Address spaces
  • DRAM
  • Memory-centric computing
  • NVM
  • Virtual memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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