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The msr-safe.ko module is comprised of the following source files:

msr_entry.c         Original MSR driver with added calls to batch and
                    allowlist implementations.
msr_batch.[ch]      MSR batching implementation
msr_allowlist.[ch]  MSR allowlist implementation
allowlists          Sample text allowlists that may be input to msr_safe

Kernel Build & Load

Building and loading the msr-safe.ko module can be done with the commands below. When no command line arguments are specified, the kernel will dynamically assign major numbers to each device. A successful load of the msr-safe kernel module will have msr_batch and msr_allowlist in /dev/cpu, and will have an msr_safe present under each CPU directory in /dev/cpu/*.

$ git clone
$ cd msr-safe
$ make
$ insmod msr-safe.ko

Kernel Load with Command Line Arguments

Alternatively, this module can be loaded with command line arguments. The arguments specify the major device number you want to associate with a particular device. When loading the kernel, you can specify 1 or all 3 of the msr devices.

$ insmod msr-safe.ko mdev_msr_safe=<#> \
                     mdev_msr_allowlist=<#> \

Configuration Notes After Install

Setup permissions and group ownership for /dev/cpu/msr_batch, /dev/cpu/msr_allowlist, and /dev/cpu/*/msr_safe as you like since the allowlist will protect you from harm.

Sample allowlists for specific architectures are provided in allowlists/ directory. These are meant to be a starting point, and should be used with caution. Each site may add to, remove from, or modify the write masks in the allowlist depending on specific needs. See the Troubleshooting section below for more information.

To configure the allowlist:

cat allowlist/al_file > /dev/cpu/msr_allowlist

Where al_file can be determined as follows:

printf 'al_%.2x%x\n' $(lscpu | grep "CPU family:" | awk -F: '{print $2}') $(lscpu | grep "Model:" | awk -F: '{print $2}')

To confirm successful allowlist configured:

cat /dev/cpu/msr_allowlist

To enumerate the current allowlist (i.e., implies allowlist was loaded successfully):

cat < /dev/cpu/msr_allowlist

To remove allowlist (as root):

echo > /dev/cpu/msr_allowlist


The msrsave utility provides a mechanism for saving and restoring MSR values based on entries in the allowlist. To restore MSR values, the register must have an appropriate writemask.

Modification of MSRs that are marked as safe in the allowlist may impact subsequent users on a shared HPC system. It is important the resource manager on such a system use the msrsave utility to save and restore MSR values between allocating compute nodes to users. An example of this has been implemented for the SLURM resource manager as a SPANK plugin. This plugin can be built with the "make spank" target and installed with the "make install-spank" target. This uses the SLURM SPANK infrastructure to make a popen(3) call to the msrsave command line utility in the job epilogue and prologue.

The version of msrsave (and msr-safe) can be modified by updating the following compiler flag:


The msrsave version can be queried with:

msrsave --version


If you encounter errors attempting to read a particular MSR, it may be for several reasons:

If you encounter a "Permission denied" error, likely the MSR was not exposed in the current allowlist.

It is possible that the MSR you are attempting to read is not supported by your CPU. You will likely see this if attempting to use the msrsave utility. In that case, you should see an error message like the following:

Warning: Failed to read msr value ...

These messages are benign and should not interfere with msrsave's ability to save and restore MSR values that are currently supported. If it is desired to remove the warning messages, remove the corresponding entry from the allowlist.


msr-safe relies on the Linux filesystem permissions to restrict access to the allowlist, the batch device and the individual msr devices. The stock kernel msr module does not have the allowlist mechanism, of course, but does add another layer of protection: users/binaries accessing /dev/cpu/X/msr must have the CAP_SYS_RAWIO capability. For a general explanation of the Linux capability model see `man -s7 capabilities. For discussion of why this was added see the Linux Weekly News article The Trouble with CAP_SYS_RAWIO.

If you are transitioning from using the stock Linux msr kernel module and relying on CAP_SYS_RAWIO, please be aware that msr_safe does not perform capability checks. Any user with sufficient file permissions can access the device drivers.


msr-safe is released under the GPL v2.0 license. For more details, please see the LICENSE and NOTICE files.

SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0-only


License and LLNL release number have been corrected to match internal records.