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[Xen-devel] [XenSummit 2017] Notes from the 5-level-paging session


I took a few notes at the 5-level-paging session at the summit.
I hope there isn't any major stuff missing...

Participants (at least naming the active ones): Andrew Cooper,
Jan Beulich, Yu Zhang and myself (the list is just from my memory).

The following topics have been discussed in the session:

1. Do we need support for 5-level-paging PV guests?

There is no urgent need for 5-level-paging PV guests for the
following reasons:

- Guests >64TB (which is the upper limit for 4-level-paging Linux)
  can be PVH or HVM.

- A 5-level-paging host supports up to 4 PB physical memory. A
  4-level-paging PV-Dom0 can support that theoretically: the M2P map
  for 4 PB memory needs 8 TB space, which just fits into the hypervisor
  reserved memory area in the Linux kernel. Any other hypervisor data
  and/or code can live in the additionally available virtual space of
  the 5-level-paging mode.

There was agreement we don't need support of 5-level-paging PV guests
right now. There is a need, however, to support 4-level-paging PV
guests located anywhere in the 52-bit physical space of a 5-level-paging
host (right now they would have to be in the bottom 64 TB as the Linux
kernel is masking away any MFN bit above 64 TB). I will send patches to
support this.

2. Do we need 5-level-paging shadow mode support?

While strictly required for PV guests only and no 5-level-paging PV
guests are to be supported, we will need 5-level-paging shadow mode in
the long run. This is necessary because even for a 4-level-paging PV
guest (or a 32-bit PV guest) the processor will run in 5-level-paging
mode on a huge host as switching between the paging modes is rather
complicated and should be avoided. It is much easier to run shadow
mode for the whole page table tree instead for two subtrees only.

OTOH the first step when implementing 5-level-paging in the hypervisor
doesn't require shadow mode to be working, so it can be omitted in the

3. Is it possible to support 5-level-paging in Xen via a specific
   binary for the first step?

Yu Zhang asked for implementing 5-level-paging via a Kconfig option
instead of dynamical switching at boot time for the first prototype.
This request was accepted in order to reduce the complexity of the
initial patches. Boot time switching should be available for the
final solution, though.

I hope I didn't miss anything.


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