[libvirt] Supporting vhost-net and macvtap in libvirt for QEMU
aliguori at linux.vnet.ibm.com
Thu Dec 17 01:48:08 UTC 2009
Disclaimer: I am neither an SR-IOV nor a vhost-net expert, but I've CC'd
people that are who can throw tomatoes at me for getting bits wrong :-)
I wanted to start a discussion about supporting vhost-net in libvirt.
vhost-net has not yet been merged into qemu but I expect it will be soon
so it's a good time to start this discussion.
There are two modes worth supporting for vhost-net in libvirt. The
first mode is where vhost-net backs to a tun/tap device. This is
behaves in very much the same way that -net tap behaves in qemu today.
Basically, the difference is that the virtio backend is in the kernel
instead of in qemu so there should be some performance improvement.
Current, libvirt invokes qemu with -net tap,fd=X where X is an already
open fd to a tun/tap device. I suspect that after we merge vhost-net,
libvirt could support vhost-net in this mode by just doing -net
vhost,fd=X. I think the only real question for libvirt is whether to
provide a user visible switch to use vhost or to just always use vhost
when it's available and it makes sense. Personally, I think the later
The more interesting invocation of vhost-net though is one where the
vhost-net device backs directly to a physical network card. In this
mode, vhost should get considerably better performance than the current
implementation. I don't know the syntax yet, but I think it's
reasonable to assume that it will look something like -net
tap,dev=eth0. The effect will be that eth0 is dedicated to the guest.
On most modern systems, there is a small number of network devices so
this model is not all that useful except when dealing with SR-IOV
adapters. In that case, each physical device can be exposed as many
virtual devices (VFs). There are a few restrictions here though. The
biggest is that currently, you can only change the number of VFs by
reloading a kernel module so it's really a parameter that must be set at
I think there are a few ways libvirt could support vhost-net in this
second mode. The simplest would be to introduce a new tag similar to
<source network='br0'>. In fact, if you probed the device type for the
network parameter, you could probably do something like <source
network='eth0'> and have it Just Work.
Another model would be to have libvirt see an SR-IOV adapter as a
network pool whereas it handled all of the VF management. Considering
how inflexible SR-IOV is today, I'm not sure whether this is the best model.
Has anyone put any more thought into this problem or how this should be
modeled in libvirt? Michael, could you share your current thinking for
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