Unikraft: Fast, Specialized Unikernels the Easy Way

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Simon Kuenzer
  • Vlad-Andrei Bădoiu
  • Sharan Santhanam
  • Alexander Jung
  • Gaulthier Gain
  • Soldani Cyril
  • Costin Lupu
  • Ștefan Teodorescu
  • Costi Răducanu
  • Cristian Banu
  • Laurent Mathy
  • Răzvan Deaconescu
  • Costin Raiciu
  • Felipe Huici


Unikernels are famous for providing excellent performance in terms of boot times, throughput and memory consumption, to name a few metrics. However, they are infamous for making it hard and extremely time consuming to extract such performance, and for needing significant engineering effort in order to port applications to them. We introduce Unikraft, a novel micro-library OS that (1) fully modularizes OS primitives so that it is easy to customize the unikernel and include only relevant components and (2) exposes a set of composable, performance-oriented APIs in order to make it easy for developers to obtain high performance.

Our evaluation using off-the-shelf popular applications such as NGINX, SQLite, and Redis shows that running such applications on Unikraft results in a 1.7x-2.7x performance improvement compared to Linux guests. In addition, Unikraft images for these apps are around 1MB, require less than 10MB of RAM to run, and boot in around 1ms on top of the VMM time (total boot time 3ms-40ms). Unikraft is a Linux Foundation open source project and can be found at www.unikraft.org.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th European Conference on Computer Systems
PublisherACM Digital Library
ISBN (Electronic)9781450383349
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021
EventEuropean Conference on Computer Systems - Online
Event duration: 26 Apr 202128 Apr 2021
Conference number: 16


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Computer Systems
Abbreviated titleEuroSys'21
Internet address

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Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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