Investigating Virtual Passthrough I/O on Commodity Devices

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Executive Summary

A commodity I/O device has no support for virtualization. A VMM can assign such a device to a single guest with direct, fast, but insecure access by the guest's native device driver. Alternatively, the VMM can build virtual devices on top of the physical device, allowing it to be multiplexed across VMs, but with lower performance. The authors propose a technique that provides an intermediate option. In Virtual Passthrough I/O (VPIO), the guest interacts directly with the physical device most of the time, achieving high performance, as in passthrough I/O. Additionally, the guest/device interactions drive a model that in turn identifies when the physical device can be handed off to another VM, and if the guest programs the device to behave illegitimately.

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