[libvirt] PATCH: Disable QEMU drive caching

Mark McLoughlin markmc at redhat.com
Thu Oct 9 12:45:09 UTC 2008


Not greatly familiar with this subject, but trying to follow your
logic ...

On Wed, 2008-10-08 at 10:51 -0500, Anthony Liguori wrote:
> Daniel P. Berrange wrote:
> >  - It is unsafe on host OS crash - all unflushed guest I/O will be
> >    lost, and there's no ordering guarentees, so metadata updates could
> >    be flushe to disk, while the journal updates were not. Say goodbye
> >    to your filesystem.
> This has nothing to do with cache=off.  The IDE device defaults to 
> write-back caching.  As such, IDE makes no guarantee that when a data 
> write completes, it's actually completed on disk.  This only comes into 
> play when write-back is disabled.  I'm perfectly happy to accept a patch 
> that adds explicit sync's when write-back is disabled.

i.e. with write-back caching enabled, the IDE  protocol makes no
guarantees about when data is committed to disk.

So, from a protocol correctness POV, qemu is behaving correctly with
cache=on and write-back caching enabled on the disk.

> For SCSI, an unordered queue is advertised.  Again, everything depends 
> on whether or not write-back caching is enabled or not.  Again, 
> perfectly happy to take patches here.

Queue ordering and write-back caching sound like very different things.
Are they two distinct SCSI options, or ...?

Surely an ordered queue doesn't do much help prevent fs corruption if
the host crashes, right? You would still need write-back caching

> More importantly, the most common journaled filesystem, ext3, does not 
> enable write barriers by default (even for journal updates).  This is 
> how it ship in Red Hat distros.

i.e. implementing barriers for virtio won't help most ext3 deployments?

And again, if barriers are just about ordering, don't you need to
disable caching anyway?

> So there is no greater risk of corrupting a journal in QEMU than there
> is on bare metal.

This is the bit I really don't buy - we're equating qemu caching to IDE
write-back caching and saying the risk of corruption is the same in both

But doesn't qemu cache data for far, far longer than a typical IDE disk
with write-back caching would do? Doesn't that mean you're far, far more
likely to see fs corruption with qemu caching?

Or put it another way, if we fix it by implementing the disabling of
write-back caching ... users running a virtual machine will need to run
"hdparam -W 0 /dev/sda" where they would never have run it on baremetal?


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