vhost-user back ends

vhost-user back ends are way to service the request of VirtIO devices outside of QEMU itself. To do this there are a number of things required.

vhost-user device

These are simple stub devices that ensure the VirtIO device is visible to the guest. The code is mostly boilerplate although each device has a chardev option which specifies the ID of the --chardev device that connects via a socket to the vhost-user daemon.

vhost-user daemon

This is a separate process that is connected to by QEMU via a socket following the Vhost-user Protocol. There are a number of daemons that can be built when enabled by the project although any daemon that meets the specification for a given device can be used.

Shared memory object

In order for the daemon to access the VirtIO queues to process the requests it needs access to the guest’s address space. This is achieved via the memory-backend-file or memory-backend-memfd objects. A reference to a file-descriptor which can access this object will be passed via the socket as part of the protocol negotiation.

Currently the shared memory object needs to match the size of the main system memory as defined by the -m argument.


First start you daemon.

$ virtio-foo --socket-path=/var/run/foo.sock $OTHER_ARGS

The you start your QEMU instance specifying the device, chardev and memory objects.

$ qemu-system-x86_64 \
    -m 4096 \
    -chardev socket,id=ba1,path=/var/run/foo.sock \
    -device vhost-user-foo,chardev=ba1,$OTHER_ARGS \
    -object memory-backend-memfd,id=mem,size=4G,share=on \
    -numa node,memdev=mem \