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Re: [Xen-devel] [RFC Design Doc] Add vNVDIMM support for Xen

On 02/02/16 03:44, Haozhong Zhang wrote:
> On 02/01/16 18:25, Andrew Cooper wrote:
>> On 01/02/16 05:44, Haozhong Zhang wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> The following document describes the design of adding vNVDIMM support
>>> for Xen. Any comments are welcome.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Haozhong
>> Thankyou for doing this.  It is a very comprehensive document, and a
>> fantastic example for future similar situations.
>> To start with however, I would like to clear up my confusion over the
>> the usecases of pmem vs pblk.
>> pblk, using indirect access, is less efficient than pmem.  NVDIMMs
>> themselves are slower (and presumably more expensive) than equivalent
>> RAM, and presumably still has a finite number of write cycles,  so I
>> don't buy an argument suggesting that they are a plausible replacement
>> for real RAM.
>> I presume therefore that a system would only choose to use pblk mode in
>> situations where the host physical address space is a limiting factor. 
>> Are there other situations which I have overlooked?
> Limited physical address space is one concern. Another concern is that
> pblk can be used by drivers to provide better RAS, like better error
> detection and power-fail write atomicity. See Section "NVDIMM Driver"
> in Chapter 1 of [3] for more details.

Ah ok.  So even with no limiting factors to consider, it would be a
plausible design choice to use it in pblk mode.

>> Secondly, I presume that pmem vs pblk will be a firmware decision and
>> fixed from the point of view of the Operating System?
> Specifications on my hands [1-4] do not mention which one is in charge
> for partitioning NVDIMM into pmem and pblk. However, as NFIT uses
> separated SPA range structures for pmem and pblk regions, I also
> presume that firmware (BIOS/EFI, or firmware on NVDIMM devices)
> determines the partition.
> In addition, some NVDIMM vendors may provide specific _DSM commands to
> allow software (OS/drivers) to reconfigure the pmem/pblk partition,
> but those changes only take effect after reboot. If OS/drivers or
> system administrators decide to do so, IMO they should make sure no
> users are currently using those NVDIMMs and data on NVDIMMs is already
> properly handled.

Ok.  Either way, it is going to be an administrator decision, and the
layout is not going to change under the feet of a running operating system.


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