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[Qemu-ppc] PPC VCPU ID packing via KVM_CAP_PPC_SMT

From: Sam Bobroff
Subject: [Qemu-ppc] PPC VCPU ID packing via KVM_CAP_PPC_SMT
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2015 14:34:47 +1100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.23 (2014-03-12)

Hi everyone,

It's currently possible to configure QEMU and KVM such that (on a Power 7 or 8
host) users are unable to create as many VCPUs as they might reasonably expect.
I'll outline one fairly straight forward solution (below) and I would welcome
feedback: Does this seem a reasonable approach? Are there alternatives?

The issue:

The behaviour is caused by three things:
* QEMU limits the total number (count) of VCPUs based on the machine type (hard
  coded to 256 for pseries).
        * See hw/ppc/spapr.c spapr_machine_class_init()
* KVM limits the highest VCPU ID to CONFIG_NR_CPUS (2048 for
        * See arch/powerpc/configs/pseries_defconfig
        * and arch/powerpc/include/asm/kvm_host.h
* If the host SMT mode is higher than the guest SMT mode when creating VCPUs,
  QEMU must "pad out" the VCPU IDs to align the VCPUs with physical cores (KVM
  doesn't know which SMT mode the guest wants).
        * See target-ppc/translate_init.c ppc_cpu_realizefn().

In the most pathological case the guest is SMT 1 (smp_threads = 1) and the host
SMT 8 (max_smt = 8), which causes the VCPU IDs to be spaced 8 apart (e.g. 0, 8,
24, ...).

This doesn't produce any strange behaviour with default limits, but consider
the case where CONFIG_NR_CPUs is set to 1024 (with the same SMT modes as
above): as the 128th VCPU is created, it's VCPU ID will be 128 * 8 = 1024,
which will be rejected by KVM. This could be surprising because only 128 VCPUs
can be created when max_cpus = 256 and CONFIG_NR_CPUS = 1024.


One solution is to provide a way for QEMU to inform KVM of the guest's SMT
mode. This would allow KVM to place the VCPUs correctly within physical cores
without any VCPU ID padding.

And one way to do that would be for KVM to allow QEMU to set the (currently
read-only) KVM_CAP_PPC_SMT capability to the required guest SMT mode.

The simplest implementation would seem to be to add a new version of the
pseries machine and have it require that the kernel support setting
KVM_CAP_PPC_SMT, but would this be a reasonable restriction? Should we add a
property (where?) to allow the new machine version to run without the new
kernel feature? Could that property default to "on" or "on if supported by the
kernel" without it becoming too complicated or causing trouble during


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