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The next generation of scalable network simulators employ virtual machines (VMs) to act as high-fidelity models of traffic producer/consumer nodes in simulated networks. However, network simulations could be inaccurate if VMs are not scheduled according to virtual time, especially when many VMs are hosted per simulator core in a multi-core simulator environment. Since VMs are by default free-running, on the outset, it is not clear if, and to what extent, their untamed execution affects the results in simulated scenarios. Here, we provide the first quantitative basis for establishing the need for generalized virtual time scheduling of VMs in network simulators, based on an actual prototyped implementations. To exercise breadth, our system is tested with disparate applications: (a) a set of message passing parallel programs, (b) a computer worm propagation phenomenon, and (c) a mobile ad-hoc wireless network simulation. We define and use error metrics and benchmarks in scaled tests to empirically report the poor match of traditional, fairness-based VM scheduling to VM-based network simulation, and also clearly show the better performance of our simulation-specific scheduler, with up to 64 VMs hosted on a 12-core simulator node.
Date of Conference: 7-9 Aug. 2012