[PATCH v5 0/2] MTE support for KVM guest

Dr. David Alan Gilbert dgilbert at redhat.com
Mon Dec 7 11:44:28 EST 2020

* Steven Price (steven.price at arm.com) wrote:
> On 07/12/2020 15:27, Peter Maydell wrote:
> > On Mon, 7 Dec 2020 at 14:48, Steven Price <steven.price at arm.com> wrote:
> > > Sounds like you are making good progress - thanks for the update. Have
> > > you thought about how the PROT_MTE mappings might work if QEMU itself
> > > were to use MTE? My worry is that we end up with MTE in a guest
> > > preventing QEMU from using MTE itself (because of the PROT_MTE
> > > mappings). I'm hoping QEMU can wrap its use of guest memory in a
> > > sequence which disables tag checking (something similar will be needed
> > > for the "protected VM" use case anyway), but this isn't something I've
> > > looked into.
> > 
> > It's not entirely the same as the "protected VM" case. For that
> > the patches currently on list basically special case "this is a
> > debug access (eg from gdbstub/monitor)" which then either gets
> > to go via "decrypt guest RAM for debug" or gets failed depending
> > on whether the VM has a debug-is-ok flag enabled. For an MTE
> > guest the common case will be guests doing standard DMA operations
> > to or from guest memory. The ideal API for that from QEMU's
> > point of view would be "accesses to guest RAM don't do tag
> > checks, even if tag checks are enabled for accesses QEMU does to
> > memory it has allocated itself as a normal userspace program".
> Sorry, I know I simplified it rather by saying it's similar to protected VM.
> Basically as I see it there are three types of memory access:
> 1) Debug case - has to go via a special case for decryption or ignoring the
> MTE tag value. Hopefully this can be abstracted in the same way.
> 2) Migration - for a protected VM there's likely to be a special method to
> allow the VMM access to the encrypted memory (AFAIK memory is usually kept
> inaccessible to the VMM). For MTE this again has to be special cased as we
> actually want both the data and the tag values.
> 3) Device DMA - for a protected VM it's usual to unencrypt a small area of
> memory (with the permission of the guest) and use that as a bounce buffer.
> This is possible with MTE: have an area the VMM purposefully maps with
> PROT_MTE. The issue is that this has a performance overhead and we can do
> better with MTE because it's trivial for the VMM to disable the protection
> for any memory.

Those all sound very similar to the AMD SEV world;  there's the special
case for Debug that Peter mentioned; migration is ...complicated and
needs special case that's still being figured out, and as I understand
Device DMA also uses a bounce buffer (and swiotlb in the guest to make
that happen).

I'm not sure about the stories for the IBM hardware equivalents.


> The part I'm unsure on is how easy it is for QEMU to deal with (3) without
> the overhead of bounce buffers. Ideally there'd already be a wrapper for
> guest memory accesses and that could just be wrapped with setting TCO during
> the access. I suspect the actual situation is more complex though, and I'm
> hoping Haibo's investigations will help us understand this.
> Thanks,
> Steve
Dr. David Alan Gilbert / dgilbert at redhat.com / Manchester, UK

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