bpftime: userspace eBPF Runtime for Uprobe, Syscall and Kernel-User Interactions

14 Nov 2023  ·  Yusheng Zheng, Tong Yu, Yiwei Yang, Yanpeng Hu, XiaoZheng Lai, Andrew Quinn ·

In kernel-centric operations, the uprobe component of eBPF frequently encounters performance bottlenecks, largely attributed to the overheads borne by context switches. Transitioning eBPF operations to user space bypasses these hindrances, thereby optimizing performance. This also enhances configurability and obviates the necessity for root access or privileges for kernel eBPF, subsequently minimizing the kernel attack surface. This paper introduces bpftime, a novel user-space eBPF runtime, which leverages binary rewriting to implement uprobe and syscall hook capabilities. Through bpftime, userspace uprobes achieve a 10x speed enhancement compared to their kernel counterparts without requiring dual context switches. Additionally, this runtime facilitates the programmatic hooking of syscalls within a process, both safely and efficiently. Bpftime can be seamlessly attached to any running process, limiting the need for either a restart or manual recompilation. Our implementation also extends to interprocess eBPF Maps within shared memory, catering to summary aggregation or control plane communication requirements. Compatibility with existing eBPF toolchains such as clang and libbpf is maintained, not only simplifying the development of user-space eBPF without necessitating any modifications but also supporting CO-RE through BTF. Through bpftime, we not only enhance uprobe performance but also extend the versatility and user-friendliness of eBPF runtime in user space, paving the way for more efficient and secure kernel operations.

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