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Re: [Qemu-block] [Qemu-devel] [RFC PATCH 00/16] Qemu Bit Map (QBM) - an

From: Markus Armbruster
Subject: Re: [Qemu-block] [Qemu-devel] [RFC PATCH 00/16] Qemu Bit Map (QBM) - an overlay format for persistent dirty bitmap
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 10:14:00 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.5 (gnu/linux)

Kevin Wolf <address@hidden> writes:

> Am 26.01.2016 um 11:38 hat Fam Zheng geschrieben:
>> This series introduces a simple format to enable support of persistence of
>> block dirty bitmaps. Block dirty bitmap is the tool to achieve incremental
>> backup, and persistence of block dirty bitmap makes incrememtal backup 
>> possible
>> across VM shutdowns, where existing in-memory dirty bitmaps cannot survive.
>> When user creates a "persisted" dirty bitmap, the QBM driver will create a
>> binary file and synchronize it with the existing in-memory block dirty bitmap
>> (BdrvDirtyBitmap). When the VM is powered down, the binary file has all the
>> bits saved on disk, which will be loaded and used to initialize the in-memory
>> block dirty bitmap next time the guest is started.
>> The idea of the format is to reuse as much existing infrastructure as 
>> possible
>> and avoid introducing complex data structures - it works with any image 
>> format,
>> by gluing it together plain bitmap files with a json descriptor file. The
>> advantage of this approach over extending existing formats, such as qcow2, is
>> that the new feature is implemented by an orthogonal driver, in a format
>> agnostic way. This way, even raw images can have their persistent dirty
>> bitmaps.  (And you will notice in this series, with a little forging to the
>> spec, raw images can also have backing files through a QBM overlay!)
>> Rather than superseding it, this intends to be coexistent in parallel with 
>> the
>> qcow2 bitmap extension that Vladimir is working on.  The block driver 
>> interface
>> changes in this series also try to be generic and compatible for both 
>> drivers.
> So as I already told Fam last week, before we discuss any technical
> details here, we first need to discuss whether this is even the right
> thing to do.

Yes, this must come first.

>              Currently I'm doubtful, as this is another attempt to
> introduce a new native image format in qemu.
> Let's recap the image formats and what we tell users about them today:
> * qcow2: This is the default choice for disk images. It gives you access
>   to all of the features in qemu at a good performance. If it doesn't
>   perform well in your case, we'll fix it.

Rather: we'll fix it if we can.

> * raw: Use this when you need absolute performance and don't need any
>   features from an image format, so you want to get any complexity just
>   out of the way and pass requests as directly as possible from the
>   guest device to the host kernel.
> * Anything else: Only use them to convert into raw or qcow2.
> Now using bitmaps is clearly on the "features" side, which suggests that
> qcow2 is the format of choice for this.

I'd agree with a general "extra feature suggests QCOW2" maxim, with
stress on "suggests".

However, the "extraness" of bitmaps is perhaps less clear than for other
features.  Bitmap-like things occur not just in formats: sparse files,
thinly provisioned SCSI devices, ...

>                                         If you want to introduce a new
> format, you need to justify it with evidence that...
> 1. there is a relevant use case that qcow2 doesn't cover
> 2. qcow2 can't be fixed/enhanced to cover the use case
> The one thing that people have claimed in the past that qcow2 can't
> provide is enough performance. This is where QED tried to come in and
> promised a compromise between performance (then a bit faster than qcow2)
> and features (almost none, but supports backing files). We all know that
> it was a failure because you had to sacrifice features and still the
> idea that qcow2 couldn't be fixed was wrong, so today we have a QED
> driver that is much slower than qcow2 despite having less features.

Yes.  We thought QCOW2 could not be made to perform[*], until you did.

New storage hardware will bring back performance pressure with a
vengeance, though.

> Now for QBM. First, let's have a look at the image format that it can be
> used with. qcow2 doesn't need it if we continue with Vladimir's
> extension. Other non-raw formats are only supposed to be used for
> conversion. The only thing that's really left is raw. Now adding a
> feature only for raw, as a compromise between features and performance,
> looks an awful lot like what QED tried. We don't want to go there.

A possible difference: complexity.

Adding another QEMU-native format in QCOW2's complexity class would be
highly problematic.  We tried with QED, because we thought we'd need it
to support different tradeoffs, but it turned out to be a dead end.

Doesn't mean there's absolutely no space for a *simple* format to
support different tradeoffs.  Is QBM simple enough?  Will it stay simple

> Even if we wanted to support persistent dirty bitmaps with raw images
> (which has to be discussed based on use cases), it's still questionable
> whether we need a new image format with JSON descriptor files instead of
> just raw bitmaps that can be added with a QMP command.
> tl;dr: Where is the justification for a new image format? You need a
> good one.


> Kevin

[*] Mostly because we thought QCOW2 could not be hacked.

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