Open Kernel Labs and NICTA to deliver verified Microvisor

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs), the global provider of embedded virtualisation software for mobile phones and broadband internet devices, has announced completion of long term research and development to provide formal mathematical proof of the correctness of the microkernel technology underlying OKL4, the company’s mobile virtualisation platform.

This project involved NICTA, the company’s incubator and investor, OK Labs staff, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and other prestigious institutions.

Moreover, as commercialisation partner for NICTA, OK Labs will bring the results of the project to market in future generations of mobile virtualisation products.

The project centred on the need to assure extremely high levels of reliability and security in mission critical domains that include aerospace and transportation. By mathematically proving the correctness of underlying kernel functioning, NICTA and OK Labs pave the way for validating and deploying mobile virtualisation under certification and security regimes like Common Criteria for business critical applications in mobile telephony, business intelligence, and mobile financial transactions.

“The close partnership between NICTA and OK Labs energises research, development, and commercialisation of innovative technology,” said Steve Subar, president and CEO, OK Labs. “NICTA’s groundbreaking research promises to deliver huge benefits to embedded design. We look forward to bringing a secure and verified Microvisor to market in OK Labs virtualization platforms for mobile OEMs, mobile network operators (MNOs), and IT managers building mobile-to-enterprise applications.”

The project entailed four years of work by NICTA and UNSW researchers. The joint team verified 7,500 lines of source code, proving over 10,000 intermediate theorems in over 200,000 lines of formal proof.

The verified code base, the seL4 kernel (secure embedded L4), derived from the globally developed and deployed open source L4 project (as did OKL4, the OK Labs mobile virtualization platform).

The outcome of the project – the seL4 code, theorems, and testing framework – will be transferred from NICTA to OK Labs as part of the ongoing relationship between the two entities. For its part, OK Labs plans to use the NICTA intellectual property for comparable verification of OKL4, for a fully verified future commercial product.