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Old 01-10-2019, 10:08 AM   #1
mablett
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QEMU x86 System Emulation on ARM CPU


I am attempting to run an x86-64 Virtual Machine (qcow2 file) on an embedded ARM-based host(NXP i.MX8 quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU, 3GB RAM, eMMC / SDHC storage, no display/kbd/mouse).

Host distro is yocto build from the NXP SDK (Linux 4.9.88-imx), with QEMU emulator version 2.10.0 (latest supported in the NXP yocto recipes). The VM is a RedHat RHEL 6.7, built for an embedded Intel Atom CPU (x86-64 dual-core). We have the VM's booting on the ARM, but with a 30x performance hit (VM boots under Windows VMWare in about 40 seconds, boots on ARM hardware in about 20 minutes.

All my searches to date focus on either same-architecture virtualization, or user-space / application emulation. For several reasons, the ARM host and the 3rd-party RedHat VM are both requirements in this endeavor - we cannot change host CPUs or break the virtualization into an application or user-space solution.


Now to the three-part question.
1. Can QEMU (or some other emulation engine) be optimized to achieve X86 system emulation on the ARM CPU more efficiently (we could probably live with a 5x performance hit if necessary), or should we move on and quit wasting our time?

2. Does anyone have similar experiences or can anyone point to specific similar efforts on any forums? I've been searching for weeks and have come up empty, but may not be looking at it correctly?

3. Are there specific QEMU optimizations that I cannot seem to find, that may get me some performance improvements? I have attempted the more obvious optimizations (raw file vs qcow2, huge memory blocks, using PCIe SSD instead of eMMC memory, etc) with either failed results or no improvement. Have not yet spent the time to update to QEMU 3.1.0, pending some conclusion that the newer version will improve this situation.

Any guidance or feedback would be welcomed.
 
Old 01-10-2019, 04:45 PM   #2
jefro
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Ideally you'd want to run some VM that has native support built in for close native hardware support. Any time you cross back to cpu emulation you will suffer.

1. No (that I know of)

2. Dunno, maybe qemu kvm forums?

3. You can build qemu and maybe improve it's performance. See first sentence. You can't undo emulation issues.


I'd run a well supported x86 amd64 type over arm in this case. I'd have to study qemu to see if it supports arm worth a darn before I'd ever try it.
 
Old Yesterday, 08:19 AM   #3
mablett
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Well, it looks like there's no real solution to emulating an x86 system on the ARM. So I'll mark this "resolved", with an answer of "no".
 
Old Yesterday, 03:28 PM   #4
jefro
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Thanks for the update.
 
  


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