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Platform emulation with Bochs

Feb 04, 2011, 15:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by M. Tim Jones)

"Bochs is an x86 PC emulator and debugger licensed under the lesser GNU Public License (GPL). The platform provides emulation of an entire PC platform, including one or more processors and various PC peripherals, such as hard disks, display, CD-ROM drives, and other common peripherals. You can use Bochs to run operating systems targeted for PC platforms, and it's also an ideal application for operating system development (because crashes of the operating system under development can be isolated within the guest in addition to the debugging capabilities that Bochs provides). Bochs accomplishes this through emulation, but it comes at the cost of performance.

"Let's take a quick detour and understand the difference between emulation and the more common virtualization methods available today.

"Platform emulation

"Bochs is a platform emulator, which means that it's not actually virtualization in the modern sense but rather a simulation. In virtualization, the hypervisor and virtual machines (VMs) execute on the bare-metal hardware (with the hypervisor creating the environment to share the hardware amongst the VMs, commonly through hardware instructions). This process is commonly called direct execution, because the instructions are executed directly by the host processor. This type of virtualization uses support from modern-day processors (such as Intel Virtualization Technology for x86 [VT-x] or AMD virtualization [AMD-V]). Emulation commonly provides a layer between the VM and the underlying hardware and operating system to create the illusion of the desired platform environment as shown in Figure 1."

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