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Vhost-net Device IOTLB


This page provides information about the design of Device IOTLB for vhost-net to provides a secure and efficient environment for dpdk like program in guest.

Design Goals

  • Architecture independent: The implementation should be compatible to current Qemu's IOMMU architecture, then it should be architecture independent and then be easy to be ported to various platform/IOMMU implementation.
  • Efficient for dpdk like program: End user should have no obvious felling performance degradation when using dpdk like program in guest. The design was optimized for dpdk like programs which use fixed mappings in guest.
  • Compatible: The implementation should be compatible with current vhost-net memory region API to support VM without DMAR enabled.


  • Vhost-net can query the address mappings from guest io virtual address to host virtual address through ioctl.
  • The above translation result could be cached in a vhost device specific IOTLB for a while to speed up the future translation in the future.
  • Qemu can invalidate one or more mappings that cached by vhost through ioctl.
  • Qemu can start or stop the DMAR through ioctl.


  • The above figure shows the design of device IOTLB for vhost-net:
    • Startup:
      • When DMAR was enabled by guest IOMMU driver, qemu will notify vhost to start the device IOTLB. Device IOTLB will be started with no entries cached.
    • DMA emulation:
      • When vhost tries to emulate a DMA, it will first tries to translate the guest iova to hva through device IOTLB.
      • If vhost could not find a such translation, it will suspend itself and ask for the assistance of qemu to do the translation.
      • Qemu get notified and will query the IOMMU for the translation.
      • After the translation is finished, qemu will send the result to vhost.
      • Vhost will then restart the DMA.
    • TLB Invalidation:
      • Vhost will snoop the TLB invalidation emulated by qemu.
      • If a specific TLB invalidation is relate to the device whose DMA is emulated by vhost, vhost will be notified and the TLB entry cached by vhost will be cleared.

Implementation (RFC)

  • kernel side:
    • four new ioctls were introduced:
      • VHOST_SET_VRING_IIOTLB_REQUEST: Set per virtqueue address of iotlb request. Each virtqueue will fill the translation request to this address when there's a IOTLB miss in vhost.
      • VHOST_SET_VRING_IOTLB_CALL: Set per virtqueue eventfd to notify qemu that there's a pending translation request.
      • VHOST_UPDATE_IOTLB: Update or invalidate a IOTLB mapping.
      • VHOST_RUN_IOTLB: Start or stop IOTLB.
    • convert pre-sorted array to interval tree:
      • Easy detection of intersection of a mapping
      • Scale for thousands of mapping
  • Qemu side (vtd and pci was chosen first)
    • convert virtio to use DMA helper/ DMA address space
    • convert vhost to use DMA address space
    • introduce TLB listener which snoop the the TLB invalidation
    • large slpte support
    • PCI ATS support (possibly) needed for a guest aware device IOTLB co-operation


  • In progress, mostly done (except for ATS).
  • Benchmark shows 100% percent of hit rate when using (intel_iommu=strict). With ATS, we can probably get 100% hit rate for default mode.