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Leveraging virtualization with XtratuM/NG in METASAT

The METASAT project aims to develop a toolchain to design software modules with a model-based engineering methodology over a hardware virtualisation layer. METASAT addresses this challenge of isolated modular design with the use of a space qualified hypervisor, XtratuM/NG (XNG) by FENTISS.

Using hypervisor-based bare-metal virtualisation into the system architecture offers the capability to integrate payload software in a plug-and-play fashion, enabling more flexible and reconfigurable satellite systems. The hypervisor allows the software modules to be designed and implemented in an abstracted, virtualised environment, which isolates the software from core satellite functions.

XNG is a bare-metal hypervisor that allows the temporal and spatial isolation of safety critical applications with different criticality levels so they can be run in the same hardware. It is inspired in well accepted standards such as ARINC 653, employed by highly criticality software, and allows running partitions based on a minimal runtime (XtratuM Runtime Environment or XRE), Real Time Operating Systems such as RTEMS, used by a majority of space missions, or General Purpose Operating Systems such as Linux.

XtratuM provides several functionalities and services to allow partitions to interact with the virtual environment provided by the hypervisor and the other partitions in the system. It includes Inter-Partition Communication, ARINC-653-like Health Monitoring, temporal partitioning based on a cyclic scheduling policy and spatial partitioning using the hardware mechanisms for memory protection.

METASAT will implement several AI-based use cases in a partitioned system taking advantage of the Full-Virtualization implementation of the XtratuM hypervisor for the RISC-V architecture.

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