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Block replication
Copyright Fujitsu, Corp. 2016
Copyright (c) 2016 Intel Corporation
Copyright (c) 2016 HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD.
This work is licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, version 2 or later.
See the COPYING file in the top-level directory.
Block replication is used for continuous checkpoints. It is designed
for COLO (COarse-grain LOck-stepping) where the Secondary VM is running.
It can also be applied for FT/HA (Fault-tolerance/High Assurance) scenario,
where the Secondary VM is not running.
This document gives an overview of block replication's design.
== Background ==
High availability solutions such as micro checkpoint and COLO will do
consecutive checkpoints. The VM state of the Primary and Secondary VM is
identical right after a VM checkpoint, but becomes different as the VM
executes till the next checkpoint. To support disk contents checkpoint,
the modified disk contents in the Secondary VM must be buffered, and are
only dropped at next checkpoint time. To reduce the network transportation
effort during a vmstate checkpoint, the disk modification operations of
the Primary disk are asynchronously forwarded to the Secondary node.
== Workflow ==
The following is the image of block replication workflow:
+----------------------+ +------------------------+
|Primary Write Requests| |Secondary Write Requests|
+----------------------+ +------------------------+
| |
| (4)
| V
| /-------------\
| Copy and Forward | |
|---------(1)----------+ | Disk Buffer |
| | | |
| (3) \-------------/
| speculative ^
| write through (2)
| | |
V V |
+--------------+ +----------------+
| Primary Disk | | Secondary Disk |
+--------------+ +----------------+
1) Primary write requests will be copied and forwarded to Secondary
2) Before Primary write requests are written to Secondary disk, the
original sector content will be read from Secondary disk and
buffered in the Disk buffer, but it will not overwrite the existing
sector content (it could be from either "Secondary Write Requests" or
previous COW of "Primary Write Requests") in the Disk buffer.
3) Primary write requests will be written to Secondary disk.
4) Secondary write requests will be buffered in the Disk buffer and it
will overwrite the existing sector content in the buffer.
== Architecture ==
We are going to implement block replication from many basic
blocks that are already in QEMU.
virtio-blk ||
^ || .----------
| || | Secondary
1 Quorum || '----------
/ \ || virtio-blk
/ \ || ^
Primary 2 filter |
disk ^ 7 Quorum
| /
3 NBD -------> 3 NBD /
client || server 2 filter
|| ^ ^
--------. || | |
Primary | || Secondary disk <--------- hidden-disk 5 <--------- active-disk 4
--------' || | backing ^ backing
|| | |
|| | |
|| '-------------------------'
|| drive-backup sync=none 6
1) The disk on the primary is represented by a block device with two
children, providing replication between a primary disk and the host that
runs the secondary VM. The read pattern (fifo) for quorum can be extended
to make the primary always read from the local disk instead of going through
2) The new block filter (the name is replication) will control the block
3) The secondary disk receives writes from the primary VM through QEMU's
embedded NBD server (speculative write-through).
4) The disk on the secondary is represented by a custom block device
(called active-disk). It should start as an empty disk, and the format
should support bdrv_make_empty() and backing file.
5) The hidden-disk is created automatically. It buffers the original content
that is modified by the primary VM. It should also start as an empty disk,
and the driver supports bdrv_make_empty() and backing file.
6) The drive-backup job (sync=none) is run to allow hidden-disk to buffer
any state that would otherwise be lost by the speculative write-through
of the NBD server into the secondary disk. So before block replication,
the primary disk and secondary disk should contain the same data.
7) The secondary also has a quorum node, so after secondary failover it
can become the new primary and continue replication.
== Failure Handling ==
There are 7 internal errors when block replication is running:
1. I/O error on primary disk
2. Forwarding primary write requests failed
3. Backup failed
4. I/O error on secondary disk
5. I/O error on active disk
6. Making active disk or hidden disk empty failed
7. Doing failover failed
In case 1 and 5, we just report the error to the disk layer. In case 2, 3,
4 and 6, we just report block replication's error to FT/HA manager (which
decides when to do a new checkpoint, when to do failover).
In case 7, if active commit failed, we use replication failover failed state
in Secondary's write operation (what decides which target to write).
== New block driver interface ==
We add four block driver interfaces to control block replication:
a. replication_start_all()
Start block replication, called in migration/checkpoint thread.
We must call block_replication_start_all() in secondary QEMU before
calling block_replication_start_all() in primary QEMU. The caller
must hold the I/O mutex lock if it is in migration/checkpoint
b. replication_do_checkpoint_all()
This interface is called after all VM state is transferred to
Secondary QEMU. The Disk buffer will be dropped in this interface.
The caller must hold the I/O mutex lock if it is in migration/checkpoint
c. replication_get_error_all()
This interface is called to check if error happened in replication.
The caller must hold the I/O mutex lock if it is in migration/checkpoint
d. replication_stop_all()
It is called on failover. We will flush the Disk buffer into
Secondary Disk and stop block replication. The vm should be stopped
before calling it if you use this API to shutdown the guest, or other
things except failover. The caller must hold the I/O mutex lock if it is
in migration/checkpoint thread.
== Usage ==
-drive if=xxx,driver=quorum,read-pattern=fifo,id=colo1,vote-threshold=1,\
Run qmp command in primary qemu:
{ 'execute': 'human-monitor-command',
'arguments': {
'command-line': 'drive_add -n buddy driver=replication,mode=primary,file.driver=nbd,,file.port=xxxx,file.export=colo1,node-name=nbd_client1'
{ 'execute': 'x-blockdev-change',
'arguments': {
'parent': 'colo1',
'node': 'nbd_client1'
1. There should be only one NBD Client for each primary disk.
2. host is the secondary physical machine's hostname or IP
3. Each disk must have its own export name.
4. It is all a single argument to -drive and you should ignore the
leading whitespace.
5. The qmp command line must be run after running qmp command line in
secondary qemu.
6. After primary failover we need remove children.1 (replication driver).
-drive if=none,driver=raw,file.filename=1.raw,id=colo1 \
-drive if=none,id=childs1,driver=replication,mode=secondary,top-id=childs1
-drive if=xxx,driver=quorum,read-pattern=fifo,id=top-disk1,\
Then run qmp command in secondary qemu:
{ 'execute': 'nbd-server-start',
'arguments': {
'addr': {
'type': 'inet',
'data': {
'host': 'xxx',
'port': 'xxx'
{ 'execute': 'nbd-server-add',
'arguments': {
'device': 'colo1',
'writable': true
1. The export name in secondary QEMU command line is the secondary
disk's id.
2. The export name for the same disk must be the same
3. The qmp command nbd-server-start and nbd-server-add must be run
before running the qmp command migrate on primary QEMU
4. Active disk, hidden disk and nbd target's length should be the
5. It is better to put active disk and hidden disk in ramdisk.
6. It is all a single argument to -drive, and you should ignore
the leading whitespace.
After Failover:
The secondary host is down, so we should run the following qmp command
to remove the nbd child from the quorum:
{ 'execute': 'x-blockdev-change',
'arguments': {
'parent': 'colo1',
'child': 'children.1'
{ 'execute': 'human-monitor-command',
'arguments': {
'command-line': 'drive_del xxxx'
Note: there is no qmp command to remove the blockdev now
The primary host is down, so we should do the following thing:
{ 'execute': 'nbd-server-stop' }
Promote Secondary to Primary:
see COLO-FT.txt
1. Shared disk