Talk Of A Brand New API For KVM Virtualization
Written by Michael Larabel in Virtualization on 5 February 2012 at 02:45 AM EST. Add A Comment
A discussion has been started about a next-generation API for Linux KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization.

Avi Kivity of Red Hat has written to the KVM developers in a proposal for a brand new API for KVM. The API would rework syscalls, state accessors, KVM's device model, ioeventfd/irqfd, guest memory management, and the vCPU FD mmap area, among other potential improvements over the existing API.

The existing KVM API can't be abandoned immediately, but this would be incremental and both APIs would be supported over several years. Here is Avi's reasoning for the need for a new API:
The kvm api has been accumulating cruft for several years now. This is due to feature creep, fixing mistakes, experience gained by the maintainers and developers on how to do things, ports to new architectures, and simply as a side effect of a code base that is developed slowly and incrementally.

While I don't think we can justify a complete revamp of the API now, I'm writing this as a thought experiment to see where a from-scratch API can take us. Of course, if we do implement this, the new and old APIs will have to be supported side by side for several years.

The feedback to this proposal for a new KVM API has been largely positive among other KVM virtualization developers.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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