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Re: [PATCH 3/5] docs/system/target-arm.rst: Add some introductory text

From: Niek Linnenbank
Subject: Re: [PATCH 3/5] docs/system/target-arm.rst: Add some introductory text
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2020 21:58:13 +0100

Reviewed-by: Niek Linnenbank <address@hidden>

On Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 10:58 PM Peter Maydell <address@hidden> wrote:
Now we've moved the various bits of per-board documentation into
their own files, the top level document is a little bare. Add
some introductory information, including a note that many
of the board models we support are currently undocumented.

(Most sections of this new text were originally written by me
for the wiki page https://wiki.qemu.org/Documentation/Platforms/ARM)

Signed-off-by: Peter Maydell <address@hidden>
 docs/system/target-arm.rst | 66 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++--
 1 file changed, 64 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/docs/system/target-arm.rst b/docs/system/target-arm.rst
index c7df6fc1f97..86ea6f2f568 100644
--- a/docs/system/target-arm.rst
+++ b/docs/system/target-arm.rst
@@ -1,9 +1,71 @@
 .. _ARM-System-emulator:

-ARM System emulator
+Arm System emulator

-Use the executable ``qemu-system-arm`` to simulate a ARM machine.
+QEMU can emulate both 32-bit and 64-bit Arm CPUs. Use the
+``qemu-system-aarch64`` executable to simulate a 64-bit Arm machine.
+You can use either ``qemu-system-arm`` or ``qemu-system-aarch64``
+to simulate a 32-bit Arm machine: in general, command lines that
+work for ``qemu-system-arm`` will behave the same when used with
+QEMU has generally good support for Arm guests. It has support for
+nearly fifty different machines. The reason we support so many is that
+Arm hardware is much more widely varying than x86 hardware. Arm CPUs
+are generally built into "system-on-chip" (SoC) designs created by
+many different companies with different devices, and these SoCs are
+then built into machines which can vary still further even if they use
+the same SoC. Even with fifty boards QEMU does not cover more than a
+small fraction of the Arm hardware ecosystem.
+The situation for 64-bit Arm is fairly similar, except that we don't
+implement so many different machines.
+As well as the more common "A-profile" CPUs (which have MMUs and will
+run Linux) QEMU also supports "M-profile" CPUs such as the Cortex-M0,
+Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M33 (which are microcontrollers used in very
+embedded boards). For most boards the CPU type is fixed (matching what
+the hardware has), so typically you don't need to specify the CPU type
+by hand, except for special cases like the ``virt`` board.
+Choosing a board model
+For QEMU's Arm system emulation, you must specify which board
+model you want to use with the ``-M`` or ``--machine`` option;
+there is no default.
+Because Arm systems differ so much and in fundamental ways, typically
+operating system or firmware images intended to run on one machine
+will not run at all on any other. This is often surprising for new
+users who are used to the x86 world where every system looks like a
+standard PC. (Once the kernel has booted, most userspace software
+cares much less about the detail of the hardware.)
+If you already have a system image or a kernel that works on hardware
+and you want to boot with QEMU, check whether QEMU lists that machine
+in its ``-machine help`` output. If it is listed, then you can probably
+use that board model. If it is not listed, then unfortunately your image
+will almost certainly not boot on QEMU. (You might be able to
+extract the filesystem and use that with a different kernel which
+boots on a system that QEMU does emulate.)
+If you don't care about reproducing the idiosyncrasies of a particular
+bit of hardware, such as small amount of RAM, no PCI or other hard
+disk, etc., and just want to run Linux, the best option is to use the
+``virt`` board. This is a platform which doesn't correspond to any
+real hardware and is designed for use in virtual machines. You'll
+need to compile Linux with a suitable configuration for running on
+the ``virt`` board. ``virt`` supports PCI, virtio, recent CPUs and
+large amounts of RAM. It also supports 64-bit CPUs.
+Board-specific documentation
+Unfortunately many of the Arm boards QEMU supports are currently
+undocumented; you can get a complete list by running
+``qemu-system-aarch64 --machine help``.

 .. toctree::


Niek Linnenbank

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