[PATCH v13 16/35] KVM: Add KVM_CREATE_GUEST_MEMFD ioctl() for guest-specific backing memory

Sean Christopherson seanjc at google.com
Wed Nov 1 08:36:37 AEDT 2023

On Tue, Oct 31, 2023, David Matlack wrote:
> On 2023-10-27 11:21 AM, Sean Christopherson wrote:
> > Introduce an ioctl(), KVM_CREATE_GUEST_MEMFD, to allow creating file-based
> > memory that is tied to a specific KVM virtual machine and whose primary
> > purpose is to serve guest memory.
> > 
> > A guest-first memory subsystem allows for optimizations and enhancements
> > that are kludgy or outright infeasible to implement/support in a generic
> > memory subsystem.  With guest_memfd, guest protections and mapping sizes
> > are fully decoupled from host userspace mappings.   E.g. KVM currently
> > doesn't support mapping memory as writable in the guest without it also
> > being writable in host userspace, as KVM's ABI uses VMA protections to
> > define the allow guest protection.  Userspace can fudge this by
> > establishing two mappings, a writable mapping for the guest and readable
> > one for itself, but that’s suboptimal on multiple fronts.
> > 
> > Similarly, KVM currently requires the guest mapping size to be a strict
> > subset of the host userspace mapping size, e.g. KVM doesn’t support
> > creating a 1GiB guest mapping unless userspace also has a 1GiB guest
> > mapping.  Decoupling the mappings sizes would allow userspace to precisely
> > map only what is needed without impacting guest performance, e.g. to
> > harden against unintentional accesses to guest memory.
> > 
> > Decoupling guest and userspace mappings may also allow for a cleaner
> > alternative to high-granularity mappings for HugeTLB, which has reached a
> > bit of an impasse and is unlikely to ever be merged.
> > 
> > A guest-first memory subsystem also provides clearer line of sight to
> > things like a dedicated memory pool (for slice-of-hardware VMs) and
> > elimination of "struct page" (for offload setups where userspace _never_
> > needs to mmap() guest memory).
> All of these use-cases involve using guest_memfd for shared pages, but
> this entire series sets up KVM to only use guest_memfd for private
> pages.
> For example, the per-page attributes are a property of a KVM VM, not the
> underlying guest_memfd. So that implies we will need separate
> guest_memfds for private and shared pages. But a given memslot can have
> a mix of private and shared pages. So that implies a memslot will need
> to support 2 guest_memfds?

Yes, someday this may be true.  Allowing guest_memfd (it was probably called
something else at that point) for "regular" memory was discussed in I think v10?
We made a concious decision to defer supporting 2 guest_memfds because it isn't strictly
necessary to support the TDX/SNP use cases for which all of this was initially
designed, and adding a second guest_memfd and the infrastructure needed to let
userspace map a guest_memfd can be done on top with minimal overhead.

> But the UAPI only allows 1 and uses the HVA for shared mappings.
> My initial reaction after reading through this series is that the
> per-page private/shared should be a property of the guest_memfd, not the
> VM. Maybe it would even be cleaner in the long-run to make all memory
> attributes a property of the guest_memfd. That way we can scope the
> support to only guest_memfds and not have to worry about making per-page
> attributes work with "legacy" HVA-based memslots.

Making the private vs. shared state a property of the guest_memfd doesn't work
for TDX and SNP.  We (upstream x86 and KVM maintainers) have taken a hard stance
that in-place conversion will not be allowed for TDX/SNP due to the ease with
which a misbehaving userspace and/or guest can crash the host.

We'd also be betting that there would *never* be a use case for per-gfn attributes
for non-standard memory, e.g. virtio-gpu buffers, any kind of device memory, etc.

We'd also effectively be signing up to either support swap and page migration in
guest_memfd, or make those mutually exclusive with per-gfn attributes too.

guest_memfd is only intended for guest DRAM, and if I get my way, will never support
swap (page migration is less scary).  I.e. guest_memfd isn't intended to be a
one-size-fits-all solution, nor is it intended to wholesale replace memslots,
which is effectively what we'd be doing by deprecating hva-based guest memory.

And ignoring all that, the ABI would end up being rather bizarre due to way guest_memfd
interacts with memslots.  guest_memfd itself has no real notion of gfns, i.e. the
shared vs. private state would be tied to a file offset, not a gfn.  That's a solvable
problem, e.g. we could make a gfn:offset binding "sticky", but that would edd extra
complexity to the ABI, and AFAICT wouldn't buy us that much, if anything.

> Maybe can you sketch out how you see this proposal being extensible to
> using guest_memfd for shared mappings?

For in-place conversions, e.g. pKVM, no additional guest_memfd is needed.  What's
missing there is the ability to (safely) mmap() guest_memfd, e.g. KVM needs to
ensure there are no outstanding references when converting back to private.

For TDX/SNP, assuming we don't find a performant and robust way to do in-place
conversions, a second fd+offset pair would be needed.

More information about the Linuxppc-dev mailing list