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Re: [Qemu-devel] KVM "fake DAX" device flushing

From: Stefan Hajnoczi
Subject: Re: [Qemu-devel] KVM "fake DAX" device flushing
Date: Thu, 11 May 2017 14:17:03 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.8.0 (2017-02-23)

On Wed, May 10, 2017 at 09:26:00PM +0530, Pankaj Gupta wrote:
> We are sharing initial project proposal for 
> 'KVM "fake DAX" device flushing' project for feedback. 
> Got the idea during discussion with 'Rik van Riel'. 

CCing NVDIMM folks.

> Also, request answers to 'Questions' section.
> Abstract : 
> ----------
> Project idea is to use fake persistent memory with direct 
> access(DAX) in virtual machines. Overall goal of project 
> is to increase the number of virtual machines that can be 
> run on a physical machine, in order to increase the density 
> of customer virtual machines.
> The idea is to avoid the guest page cache, and minimize the 
> memory footprint of virtual machines. By presenting a disk 
> image as a nvdimm direct access (DAX) memory region in a 
> virtual machine, the guest OS can avoid using page cache 
> memory for most file accesses.
> Problem Statement :
> ------------------
> * Guest uses page cache in memory to process fast requests 
>   for disk read/write. This results in big memory footprint 
>   of guests without host knowing much details of the guest 
>   memory. 
> * If guests use direct access(DAX) with fake persistent 
>   storage, the host manages the page cache for guests, 
>   allowing the host to easily reclaim/evict less frequently 
>   used page cache pages without requiring guest cooperation, 
>   like ballooning would.
> * Host manages guest cache as ‘mmaped’ disk image area in 
>   qemu address space. This region is passed to guest as fake 
>   persistent memory range. We need a new flushing interface 
>   to flush this cache to secondary storage to persist guest 
>   writes.
> * New asynchronous flushing interface will allow guests to 
>   cause the host flush the dirty data to backup storage file. 
>   Systems with pmem storage make use of CLFLUSH instruction 
>   to flush single cache line to persistent storage and it 
>   takes care of flushing. With fake persistent storage in 
>   guest we cannot depend on CLFLUSH instruction to flush entire 
>   dirty cache to backing storage. Even If we trap and emulate 
>   CLFLUSH instruction guest vCPU has to wait till we flush all 
>   the dirty memory. Instead of this we need to implement a new 
>   asynchronous guest flushing interface, which allows the guest 
>   to specify a larger range to be flushed at once, and allows 
>   the vCPU to run something else while the data is being synced 
>   to disk. 
> * New flushing interface will consists of a para virt driver to 
>   new fake nvdimm like device which will process guest flushing
>   requests like fsync/msync etc instead of pmem library calls 
>   like clflush. The corresponding device at host side will be 
>   responsible for flushing requests for guest dirty pages. 
>   Guest can put current task in sleep and vCPU can run any other 
>   task while host side flushing of guests pages is in progress.
> Host controlled fake nvdimm DAX to avoid guest page cache :
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> * Bypass guest page cache by using a fake persistent storage 
>   like nvdimm & DAX. Guest Read/Write is directly done on 
>   fake persistent storage without involving guest kernel for 
>   caching data.
> * Fake nvdimm device passed to guest is backed by a regular 
>   file in host stored in secondary storage.
> * Qemu has implementation of fake NVDIMM/DAX device. Use this 
>   capability of passing regular host file(disk) as nvdimm device 
>   to guest.
> * Nvdimm with DAX works for ext4/xfs filesystem. Supported 
>   filesystem should be DAX compatible. 
> * As we are using guest disk as fake DAX/NVDIMM device, we 
>   need a mechanism for persistence of data backed on regular 
>   host storage file.
> * For live migration use case, if host side backing file is 
>   shared storage, we need to flush the page cache for the disk 
>   image at the destination (new fadvise interface, FADV_INVALIDATE_CACHE?) 
>   before starting execution of the guest on the destination host.

Good point.  QEMU currently only supports live migration with O_DIRECT.
I think the problem was that userspace cannot guarantee consistency in
the general case.  If you find a solution to this problem for fake
NVDIMM then maybe the QEMU block layer can also begin supporting live
migration with buffered I/O.

> Design :
> ---------
> * In order to not have page cache inside the guest, qemu would:
>  1) mmap the guest's disk image and present that disk image to 
>     the guest as a persistent memory range.
>  2) Present information to the guest telling it that the persistent 
>     memory range is not physical persistent memory.

Steps 1 & 2 are already supported by QEMU NVDIMM emulation today.

>  3) Present an additional paravirt device alongside the persistent 
>     memory range, that can be used to sync (ranges of) data to disk.
> * Guest would use the disk image mostly like a persistent memory 
>   device, with two exceptions:
>   1) It would not tell userspace that the files on that device are 
>      persistent memory. This is  done so userspace knows to call 
>      fsync/msync, instead of the pmem clflush library call.

Not sure I agree with hiding the nvdimm nature of the device.  Instead I
think you need to build this capability into the Linux nvdimm code.
libpmem will detect these types of devices and issue fsync/msync when
the application wants to flush.

>   2) When userspace calls fsync/msync on files on the fake persistent 
>      memory device, issue a request through the paravirt device that 
>      causes the host to flush the device back end.
> * Guest uses fake persistent storage data updates can be still in 
>   qemu memory. We need a way to flush cached data in host to backed 

s/qemu memory/host memory/

I guess you mean that host userspace needs a way to reliably flush an
address range to the underlying storage.

>   secondary storage.
> * Once the guest receives a completion event from the host, it will 
>   allow userspace programs that were waiting on the fsync/msync to 
>   continue running.
> * Host is responsible for paging in pages in host backing area for 
>   guest persistent memory as they are accessed by the guest, and 
>   for evicting pages as host memory fills up.
> Questions :
> -----------
> * What should the flushing interface between guest and host look 
>   like?

A simple hack for prototyping is to instantiate an virtio-blk-pci for
the mmapped host file.  The guest can send flush commands on the
virtio-blk-pci device but will otherwise use the mapped memory directly.

> * Any suggestions to hook the IO caching code with KVM/Qemu or 
>   thoughts on how we should do it? 
> * Thinking of implementing a guest para virt driver which will send 
>   guest requests to Qemu to flush data to disk. Not sure at this 
>   point how to tell userspace to work on this device as any regular
>   device without considering it as persistent device. Any suggestions
>   on this?
> * Not thought yet about ballooning impact. But feel this solution 
>   could be better than ballooning in long term? As we will be 
>   managing all guests cache from host side.
> * Not sure this solution works for ARM and other architectures and 
>   Windows? 

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