Howto: Accessing PCI devices from userspace

Justin Cormack edited this page Apr 16, 2014 · 3 revisions
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This howto explains how to configure your host system so that PCI devices are available to drivers running in userspace rump kernels.

Linux hosts

The DMA memory allocator uses hugepages to allocate physically contiguous "DMA-safe" memory. Make sure you have a decent amount of hugepages available on your system. Something like this should do the trick:

echo 64 > /sys/kernel/mm/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages

Though, of course, check the value first, and the value of free_hugepages in the same directory. "Decent amount" is difficult to define exactly in generic terms. If the driver wants no hugepages, one or more, is up to each individual driver. For example, wm GigE NIC driver requires one hugepage. You know you need more if you see an error like:

iwn0: could not allocate TX ring DMA memory

Then, load the uio_pci_generic Linux kernel module, which will be used by the rump kernel to access the device.

$ modprobe uio_pci_generic

Now, figure out the info of the device which you want to attach to, e.g. using lspci. Let's assume it's bus 3, device 0, function 0 (which just might be where our target device is located on this laptop):

$ lspci -v -nn -s 03:00.0
03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 5100 AGN [Shil
oh] Network Connection [8086:4237]
        Subsystem: Intel Corporation WiFi Link 5100 AGN [8086:1211]
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 51
        Memory at f4200000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=8K]
        Capabilities: <access denied>
        Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi

We now know the device id 8086:4237 and the kernel driver that is already bound to the device (iwlwifi). If the device is bound to a kernel driver, and since we can see it is in our case, we need to unbind the kernel driver before we can bind the device to uio_pci_generic and use the device in a rump kernel.

To unbind:

$ echo '0000:03:00.0' > /sys/bus/pci/drivers/iwlwifi/unbind

Alternatively, if you are not using any instances of the device, you can just remove the kernel module for the device.

Then, to bind:

$ echo '8086 4237' > /sys/bus/pci/drivers/uio_pci_generic/new_id
$ echo '0000:03:00.0' > /sys/bus/pci/drivers/uio_pci_generic/bind

We should see the device bound to uio now:

$ ls -l /sys/class/uio/
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 15 12:51 uio0 -> ../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1

You can dig in sysfs more if you like to see what's there. In any case, the device should be accessible from a userspace driver now.

Non-Linux hosts


Note that FreeBSD now has a simple userspace PCI passthrough module for bhyve, so it should be fairly easy to support this.