Large-scale multi-core chips open up the possibility of implementing heterogeneous cores on a single chip, where some cores can be customized to execute common code patterns. The operating system is an example of a common code pattern that is constantly executing on every processor. It is therefore a prime candidate for core customization. Recent work has begun to explore this possibility, where some fraction of system calls and other OS functionality is off-loaded to a separate special-purpose core. Studies have shown that this can improve overall system performance and power consumption. However, our explorations in this arena reveal that the primary benefits of off-loading can be captured with alternative mechanisms that eliminate the negative effects of off-loading. This position paper articulates this alternative mechanism with initial results that demonstrate promise. 1
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