Monday, March 26, 2018

s390x changes in QEMU 2.12

As QEMU is now in hard freeze for 2.12 (with the final release expected in mid/late April), now is a good point in time to summarize some of the changes that made it into QEMU 2.12 for s390x.

I/O Devices

  • Channel I/O: Any device can now be put into any channel subsystem image, regardless whether it is a virtual device (like virtio-ccw) or a device passed through via vfio-ccw. This obsoletes the s390-squash-mcss option (which was needed to explicitly squash vfio-ccw devices into the default channel subsystem image in order to make it visible to guests not enabling MCSS-E).
  • PCI: Fixes and refactoring, including handling of subregions. This enables usage of virtio-pci devices on s390x (although only if MSI-X is enabled, as s390x depends on it.) Previously, you could add virtio-pci devices on s390x, but they were not usable.
    For more information about PCI, see this blog entry.

Booting and s390-ccw bios

  • Support for an interactive boot menu. Note that this is a bit different than on other architectures (although it hooks into the same infrastructure). The boot menu is written on the (virtual) disk via the 'zipl' program, and these entries need to be parsed and displayed via SCLP.

System Emulation

  • KVM: In case you were short on memory before: You can now run guests with 8 TB or more.
  • KVM: Support for the bpb and ppa15 CPU features (for spectre mitigation). These have been backported to 2.11.1 as well.
  • TCG: Lots of improvements: Implementation of missing instructions, full (non-experimental) SMP support.
  • TCG: Improvements in handling of the STSI instruction (you can look at some information obtained that way via /proc/sysinfo.) Note that a TCG guest reports itself as a KVM guest, rather than an LPAR: In many ways, a TCG guest is closer to KVM, and reporting itself as an LPAR makes the Linux guest code choose an undesired target for its console output by default.
  • TCG: Wire up the zPCI instructions; you can now use virtio-pci devices under TCG.
  • CPU models: Switch the 'qemu' model to a stripped-down z12, adding all features required by kernels on recent distributions. This means that you can now run recent distributions (Fedora 26/27, Ubuntu 18.04, ...) under TCG. Older distributions may not work (older kernels required some features not implemented under TCG), unless they were built for a z900 like Debian stable.

Miscellaneous

  • Support for memory hotplug via SCLP has been removed. This was an odd interface: Unlike as on other architectures, the guest could enable 'standby' memory if it had been supplied. Another problem was that this never worked with migration. Old command lines will continue to work, but no 'standby' memory will be available to the guest any more.
    Memory hotplug on s390x will probably come back in the future with an interface that matches better what is done elsewhere, likely via some paravirtualized interface. Support for the SCLP interface might come back in the future as well, implemented in an architecture-specific way that does not try to look like memory hotplug elsewhere.
  • And of course, the usual fixes, cleanups and other improvements.

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