Snowbird is a middleware system based on virtual machine (VM) technology that simplifies the development and deployment of bimodal applications. Such applications alternate between phases with heavy computationalresource needs and phases rich in user interaction. Examples include digital animation, as well as scientific, medical, and engineering diagnostic and design tools. Traditionally, these applications have been manually partitioned into distributed components to take advantage of remote computational resources, while still providing low-latency user interaction. Instead, Snowbird lets developers design their applications as monolithic units within a VM, and automatically migrates the application to the optimal execution site to achieve short completion time and crisp interactive performance. Snowbird does not require that applications be written in a specific language, or use specific libraries, and it can be used with existing applications, including closed-source ones, without requiring recompilation or relinking. Snowbird achieves these goals by augmenting VM migration with an interaction-aware migration manager, support for graphics hardware acceleration, and a wide-area peer-to-peer storage system. Experiments conducted with a number of real-world applications, including commercial closed-source tools, show that applications running under Snowbird come within 4% of optimal compute time, and provide crisp interactive performance that is comparable to native local execution.

 

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