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Re: [Stratos-dev] Enabling hypervisor agnosticism for VirtIO backends

Hi Stefano,

On 9/14/2021 8:29 PM, Stefano Stabellini wrote:
On Tue, 14 Sep 2021, Trilok Soni wrote:
On 9/13/2021 4:51 PM, Stefano Stabellini via Stratos-dev wrote:
On Mon, 6 Sep 2021, AKASHI Takahiro wrote:
the second is how many context switches are involved in a transaction.
Of course with all things there is a trade off. Things involving the
very tightest latency would probably opt for a bare metal backend which
I think would imply hypervisor knowledge in the backend binary.

In configuration phase of virtio device, the latency won't be a big
In device operations (i.e. read/write to block devices), if we can
resolve 'mmap' issue, as Oleksandr is proposing right now, the only issue
how efficiently we can deliver notification to the opposite side. Right?
And this is a very common problem whatever approach we would take.

Anyhow, if we do care the latency in my approach, most of virtio-proxy-
related code can be re-implemented just as a stub (or shim?) library
since the protocols are defined as RPCs.
In this case, however, we would lose the benefit of providing "single
(I know this is is an arguable requirement, though.)

In my experience, latency, performance, and security are far more
important than providing a single binary.

In my opinion, we should optimize for the best performance and security,
then be practical on the topic of hypervisor agnosticism. For instance,
a shared source with a small hypervisor-specific component, with one
implementation of the small component for each hypervisor, would provide
a good enough hypervisor abstraction. It is good to be hypervisor
agnostic, but I wouldn't go extra lengths to have a single binary. I
cannot picture a case where a BE binary needs to be moved between
different hypervisors and a recompilation is impossible (BE, not FE).
Instead, I can definitely imagine detailed requirements on IRQ latency
having to be lower than 10us or bandwidth higher than 500 MB/sec.

Instead of virtio-proxy, my suggestion is to work together on a common
project and common source with others interested in the same problem.

I would pick something like kvmtool as a basis. It doesn't have to be
kvmtools, and kvmtools specifically is GPL-licensed, which is
unfortunate because it would help if the license was BSD-style for ease
of integration with Zephyr and other RTOSes.

As long as the project is open to working together on multiple
hypervisors and deployment models then it is fine. For instance, the
shared source could be based on OpenAMP kvmtool [1] (the original
kvmtool likely prefers to stay small and narrow-focused on KVM). OpenAMP
kvmtool was created to add support for hypervisor-less virtio but they
are very open to hypervisors too. It could be a good place to add a Xen
implementation, a KVM fatqueue implementation, a Jailhouse
implementation, etc. -- work together toward the common goal of a single
BE source (not binary) supporting multiple different deployment models.

I have my reservations on using "kvmtool" to do any development here.
"kvmtool" can't be used on the products and it is just a tool for the

The benefit of the solving problem w/ rust-vmm is that some of the crates from
this project can be utilized for the real product. Alex has mentioned that
"rust-vmm" today has some KVM specific bits but the rust-vmm community is
already discussing to remove or re-org them in such a way that other
Hypervisors can fit in.

Microsoft has Hyper-V implementation w/ cloud-hypervisor which uses some of
the rust-vmm components as well and they had shown interest to add the Hyper-V
support in the "rust-vmm" project as well. I don't know the current progress
but they had proven it it "cloud-hypervisor" project.

"rust-vmm" project's license will work as well for most of the project
developments and I see that "CrosVM" is shipping in the products as well.

Most things in open source start as a developers tool before they become
part of a product :)

Agree, but I had an offline discussions with one the active developer of kvmtool and the confidence of using it in the product was no where near we expected during our evaluation. Same goes the QEMU and one of the biggest problem was no. of security issues against this huge codebase of QEMU.

I am concerned about how "embeddable" rust-vmm is going to be. Do you
think it would be possible to run it against an RTOS together with other
apps written in C?

I don't see any limitations of rust-vmm. For example, I am confident that we can port rust-vmm based backend into the QNX as host OS and same goes w/ Zephyr as well. Some work is needed but nothing fundamentally blocking it. We should be able to run it w/ Fuchsia as well with some effort.

---Trilok Soni



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