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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Essentials eBook now available in PDF and ePub formats for only $9.99
RHEL 6 Essentials contains 40 chapters and over 250 pages.

24.4. Setting KVM processor affinities

This section covers setting processor and processing core affinities with libvirt and KVM guests.
By default, libvirt provisions guests using the hypervisor's default policy. For most hypervisors, the policy is to run guests on any available processing core or CPU. There are times when an explicit policy may be better, in particular for systems with a NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) architecture. A guest on a NUMA system should be pinned to a processing core so that its memory allocations are always local to the node it is running on. This avoids cross-node memory transports which have less bandwidth and can significantly degrade performance.
On a non-NUMA systems some form of explicit placement across the hosts’ sockets, cores and hyperthreads may be more efficient.
Identifying CPU and NUMA topology
The first step in deciding what policy to apply is to determine the host’s memory and CPU topology. The virsh nodeinfo command provides information about how many sockets, cores and hyperthreads there are attached a host.
# virsh nodeinfo
CPU model:           x86_64
CPU(s):              8
CPU frequency:       1000 MHz
CPU socket(s):       2
Core(s) per socket:  4
Thread(s) per core:  1
NUMA cell(s):        1
Memory size:         8179176 kB
This system has eight CPUs, in two sockets, each processor has four cores.
The output shows that that the system has a NUMA architecture. NUMA is more complex and requires more data to accurately interpret. Use the virsh capabilities to get additional output data on the CPU configuration.
# virsh capabilities
<capabilities>
  <host>
    <cpu>
      <arch>x86_64</arch>
    </cpu>
    <migration_features>
      <live/>
      <uri_transports>
        <uri_transport>tcp</uri_transport>
      </uri_transports>
    </migration_features>
    <topology>
      <cells num='2'>
        <cell id='0'>
          <cpus num='4'>
            <cpu id='0'/>
            <cpu id='1'/>
            <cpu id='2'/>
            <cpu id='3'/>
          </cpus>
        </cell>
        <cell id='1'>
          <cpus num='4'>
            <cpu id='4'/>
            <cpu id='5'/>
            <cpu id='6'/>
            <cpu id='7'/>
          </cpus>
        </cell>
      </cells>
    </topology>
    <secmodel>
      <model>selinux</model>
      <doi>0</doi>
    </secmodel>
  </host>

 [ Additional XML removed ]

</capabilities>
The output shows two NUMA nodes (also know as NUMA cells), each containing four logical CPUs (four processing cores). This system has two sockets, therefore it can be inferred that each socket is a separate NUMA node. For a guest with four virtual CPUs, it would be optimal to lock the guest to physical CPUs 0 to 3, or 4 to 7 to avoid accessing non-local memory, which are significantly slower than accessing local memory.
If a guest requires eight virtual CPUs, as each NUMA node only has four physical CPUs, a better utilization may be obtained by running a pair of four virtual CPU guests and splitting the work between them, rather than using a single 8 CPU guest. Running across multiple NUMA nodes significantly degrades performance for physical and virtualized tasks.
Decide which NUMA node can run the guest
Locking a guest to a particular NUMA node offers no benefit if that node does not have sufficient free memory for that guest. libvirt stores information on the free memory available on each node. Use the virsh freecell command to display the free memory on all NUMA nodes.
# virsh freecell
0: 2203620 kB
1: 3354784 kB
If a guest requires 3 GB of RAM allocated, then the guest should be run on NUMA node (cell) 1. Node 0 only has 2.2GB free which is probably not sufficient for certain guests.
Lock a guest to a NUMA node or physical CPU set
Once you have determined which node to run the guest on, refer to the capabilities data (the output of the virsh capabilities command) about NUMA topology.
  1. Extract from the virsh capabilities output.
    <topology>
      <cells num='2'>
        <cell id='0'>
        <cpus num='4'>
          <cpu id='0'/>
          <cpu id='1'/>
          <cpu id='2'/>
          <cpu id='3'/>
        </cpus>
      </cell>
      <cell id='1'>
        <cpus num='4'>
          <cpu id='4'/>
          <cpu id='5'/>
          <cpu id='6'/>
          <cpu id='7'/>
        </cpus>
      </cell>
      </cells>
    </topology>
    
  2. Observe that the node 1, <cell id='1'>, has physical CPUs 4 to 7.
  3. The guest can be locked to a set of CPUs by appending the cpuset attribute to the configuration file.
    1. While the guest is offline, open the configuration file with virsh edit.
    2. Locate where the guest's virtual CPU count is specified. Find the vcpus element.
      <vcpus>4</vcpus>
      
      The guest in this example has four CPUs.
    3. Add a cpuset attribute with the CPU numbers for the relevant NUMA cell.
      <vcpus cpuset='4-7'>4</vcpus>
      
  4. Save the configuration file and restart the guest.
The guest has been locked to CPUs 4 to 7.
Automatically locking guests to CPUs with virt-install
The virt-install provisioning tool provides a simple way to automatically apply a 'best fit' NUMA policy when guests are created.
The cpuset option for virt-install can use a CPU set of processors or the parameter auto. The auto parameter automatically determines the optimal CPU locking using the available NUMA data.
For a NUMA system, use the --cpuset=auto with the virt-install command when creating new guests.
Tuning CPU affinity on running guests
There may be times where modifying CPU affinities on running guests is preferable to rebooting the guest. The virsh vcpuinfo and virsh vcpupin commands can perform CPU affinity changes on running guests.
The virsh vcpuinfo command gives up to date information about where each virtual CPU is running.
In this example, guest1 is a guest with four virtual CPUs is running on a KVM host.
# virsh vcpuinfo guest1
VCPU:           0
CPU:            3
State:          running
CPU time:       0.5s
CPU Affinity:   yyyyyyyy
VCPU:           1
CPU:            1
State:          running
CPU Affinity:   yyyyyyyy
VCPU:           2
CPU:            1
State:          running
CPU Affinity:   yyyyyyyy
VCPU:           3
CPU:            2
State:          running
CPU Affinity:   yyyyyyyy
The virsh vcpuinfo output (the yyyyyyyy value of CPU Affinity) shows that the guest can presently run on any CPU.
To lock the virtual CPUs to the second NUMA node (CPUs four to seven), run the following commands.
# virsh vcpupin guest1 0 4
# virsh vcpupin guest1 1 5
# virsh vcpupin guest1 2 6
# virsh vcpupin guest1 3 7
The virsh vcpuinfo command confirms the change in affinity.
# virsh vcpuinfo guest1
VCPU:           0
CPU:            4
State:          running
CPU time:       32.2s
CPU Affinity:   ----y---
VCPU:           1
CPU:            5
State:          running
CPU time:       16.9s
CPU Affinity:   -----y--
VCPU:           2
CPU:            6
State:          running
CPU time:       11.9s
CPU Affinity:   ------y-
VCPU:           3
CPU:            7
State:          running
CPU time:       14.6s
CPU Affinity:   -------y
Information from the KVM processes can also confirm that the guest is now running on the second NUMA node.
# grep pid /var/run/libvirt/qemu/guest1.xml
<domstatus state='running' pid='4907'>
# grep Cpus_allowed_list /proc/4907/task/*/status
/proc/4907/task/4916/status:Cpus_allowed_list: 4
/proc/4907/task/4917/status:Cpus_allowed_list: 5
/proc/4907/task/4918/status:Cpus_allowed_list: 6
/proc/4907/task/4919/status:Cpus_allowed_list: 7
</section>

 
 
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