EROS: A fast capability system

Jonathan S. Shapiro, Jonathan M. Smith, David J. Farber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Citations (Scopus)


EROS is a capability-based operating system for commodity processors which uses a single level storage model. The single level store's persistence is transparent to applications. The performance consequences of support for transparent persistence and capability-based architectures are generally believed to be negative. Surprisingly, the basic operations of EROS (such as IPC) are generally comparable in cost to similar operations in conventional systems. This is demonstrated with a set of microbenchmark measurements of semantically similar operations in Linux. The EROS system achieves its performance by coupling well-chosen abstract objects with caching techniques for those objects. The objects (processes, nodes, and pages) are well-supported by conventional hardware, reducing the overhead of capabilities. Software-managed caching techniques for these objects reduce the cost of persistence. The resulting performance suggests that composing protected subsystems may be less costly than commonly believed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-185
Number of pages16
JournalOperating Systems Review (ACM)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Dec
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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