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Bao - a lightweight static partitioning hypervisor


Bao (from Mandarin Chinese “bǎohù”, meaning “to protect”) is a lightweight, open-source embedded hypervisor which aims at providing strong isolation and real-time guarantees. Bao provides a minimal, from-scratch implementation of the partitioning hypervisor architecture.

Designed mainly for targeting mixed-criticality systems, Bao strongly focuses on isolation for fault-containment and real-time behavior. Its implementation comprises only a minimal, thin-layer of privileged software leveraging ISA virtualization support to implement the static partitioning hypervisor architecture: resources are statically partitioned and assigned at VM instantiation time; memory is statically assigned using 2-stage translation; IO is pass-through only; virtual interrupts are directly mapped to physical ones; and it implements a 1-1 mapping of virtual to physical CPUs, with no need for a scheduler.

Bao has no external dependencies, such as on privileged VMs running untrustable, large monolithic general-purpose operating systems (e.g., Linux), and, as such, encompasses a much smaller TCB.

NOTE: This is work in progress! Don't expect things to be complete. Use at your own risk.

Supported Platforms

The full list of supported (and work in progress) platforms is presented below:


  • [x] Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC ZCU102
  • [x] Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC ZCU104
  • [x] Ultra96 Zynq UltraScale+ ZU3EG
  • [x] NVIDIA Jetson TX2
  • [x] 96Boards HiKey 960
  • [x] Raspberry Pi 4
  • [x] QEMU virt
  • [ ] NXP MCIMX8M-EVK (Armv8-A) - soon
  • [ ] 96Boards ROCK960 (Armv8-A) - wip


  • [x] QEMU virt (rv64)
  • [ ] Rocket w/ H-extension (rv64) - soon

Community Resources

Project website:

Source code:



For a step-by-step guide on how to run different demo configurations of the Bao hypervisor featuring multiple guest operating systems and targeting several platforms please refer to: Bao Hypervisor Demo Guide


  1. Bruno Sá, José Martins and Sandro Pinto. "A First Look at RISC-V Virtualization from an Embedded Systems Perspective". To be published, 2021.

  2. José Martins and Sandro Pinto. "Static Partitioning Virtualization on RISC-V". In RISC-V Summit, virtual, 2020.

  3. José Martins and Sandro Pinto. "Bao: a modern lightweight embedded hypervisor". In Proceedings of the Embedded World Conference, Nuremberg, Germany, 2020.

  4. José Martins, Adriano Tavares, Marco Solieri, Marko Bertogna, and Sandro Pinto. "Bao: A Lightweight Static Partitioning Hypervisor for Modern Multi-Core Embedded Systems". In Workshop on Next Generation Real-Time Embedded Systems (NG-RES 2020). Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik. 2020.

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