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RedHawk KVM-RT

Virtualization Unleashed

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What is RedHawk KVM-RT?

RedHawk KVM-RT is an award-winning hypervisor that integrates proven Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) open-source technology with the RedHawk™ Linux® real-time operating system. Concurrent’s KVM-RT Configuration Tool makes it easy to create virtual machines (VMs) that extend the real-time abilities of RedHawk to VMs running on a single physical host system.

The KVM-RT Configuration Tool leverages unique features of the RedHawk Linux host for memory management, process scheduling, device access and I/O. Real-time performance is guaranteed through RedHawk’s shielding and scheduling mechanisms: RedHawk KVM-RT can achieve worst-case maximum response times of less than 10 microseconds on certified hardware platforms.

Learn about how KVM-RT won Platinum Honoree

2022 Military-Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards Platinum Honoree


System Consolidation

Many computer systems only use fractional amounts of their processing power and resources when implemented on bare metal. By virtualizing operating systems, the full capacity of machines can be utilized as hardware resources are allocated to multiple virtual machines running in parallel on one physical system. Using virtualization to consolidate systems helps conserve resources, decrease waste, and reduce hardware and energy costs. Consolidation through virtualization also offers increased security because each virtual machine can be easily monitored and isolated from other parts of the system.

Graphic illustrating the Kernel-based Virtual Machine.

Development and Testing

All components of a virtual machine are enclosed in a set of files that keeps the VM separate from the host and other VMs. Because a VM is independently set apart in this way, it can serve as an ideal location for a production environment to test software applications in development. Trial runs of software, operating systems, pages or applications that can result in system crashes or exposure to malicious threats will have no impact on elements outside of a single virtual machine.

Application Accessibility

Legacy software applications and phased-out operating systems may have difficulty running on newer hardware. Some legacy OS’s are supported as real-time virtual machines, which permit applications to run as if they were on bare metal hardware.

Dedicated Processes

Dedicated systems may have singular purposes and only carry out specific processes for security or networking. These dedicated systems can be migrated as virtual machines onto newer hardware, the latter of which contains more resources than are needed for a single system’s specific processes. Overall, independent machines can be consolidated while maintaining a high degree of independence, performance, and security.

System Backups

Virtual systems can serve as a convenient way to create backup copies of operating systems that are safely sandboxed from other operating systems, including the hosts. The virtual mobility of VMs also makes them and their associated data and programs easy to migrate from one storage location or host to another.

KVM-RT Configuration Tool

The RedHawk KVM-RT Configuration tool uses a single configuration file to define all real-time policies for the set of virtual machines managed by it. A virtual machine manager (VMM) can easily create ‘libvirt’ configuration files (XML) which can then be imported into KVM-RT. A single KVM-RT configuration file interacts with the many ‘libvirt’ configuration files to configure the VMs appropriately for real-time policies. The following two methods are available for VM creation:

  • RedHawk Architect, which allows for the creation of tailored UEFI or legacy VMs
  • VMM, a GUI interface through which VMs can be created an maintained.

During first-time configurations for VMs, most VMMs default to a CPU topology with many sockets and a single core per socket. This may result in sub-optimal performance. To improve real-time performance, the
tool allows for the modification of CPU topology to one socket with multiple cores. Furthermore, the KVM-RT Configuration Tool carries out a diverse range of scheduling, monitoring and operational tasks that increase security and help the hypervisor and VMs achieve fast, reliable performance.

The KVM-RT Configuration Tool boots and shuts down the virtual machines, with the ability to scale and support multiple real-time and non-real-time VMs. The tool also provides a transparent picture of the environment, which consists of the hypervisor and virtual OS, and it monitors the VMs to ensure real-time performance. The NightStar tools running on the RedHawk Linux host support tracing and debugging of both the hypervisor and VMs, providing insights to tune and allow users to improve system performance. In addition, Concurrent Real-Time offers guaranteed event response time of less than 10 microseconds when running real-time VMs alongside non-real-time VMs on certified platforms.

KVM-RT Releases

Supported OS

• Supermicro M12SWA-TF AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5975WX

• Supermicro M12SWA-TF AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5965WX

Host Firmware: UEFI only, revision 2.1

Host OS: RedHawk 8.4.x on Rocky/RHEL 8.4 or Ubuntu 20.04

RedHawk 9.2.x on Rocky/RHEL/Oracle 9.2 or Ubuntu 22.04

RT guest Firmware: UEFI or Legacy

RT guest OS: RedHawk 7.5 or newer

Non-RT guest Firmware: UEFI or Legacy

Non-RT guest OS: Any OS*

Host OS: RedHawk 7.5 or newer

RT Guest OS: RedHawk 7.0 or newer

Non-RT guest OS: Any OS*


• Supermicro M12SWA-TF AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5975WX

• Supermicro M12SWA-TF AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5965WX

Host OS: RedHawk 8.4.4 on Rocky or RHEL or Ubuntu (20.04)

RT guest OS: RedHawk 7.0 or newer

Non-RT guest OS: Any OS*


• any CentOS-compatible distribution version 7.5 or later.

• any Ubuntu version 16.04 or later.


• any CentOS-compatible distribution version 7.5 or later.

• any Ubuntu version 16.04 or later.


• any CentOS-compatible distribution version 7.0 or later.

• any Ubuntu version 16.04 or later.


RedHawk 8.0 running on:

• any 8.0 CentOS-compatible distribution

• Ubuntu 18.04

RedHawk 7.5 running on CentOS 7.5

*any fairly recent 32-bit or 64-bit OS for the x86 architecture. Please contact us for more information. 


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