Host Memory Access

Some of the recent Alveo cards support direct host memory access by the kernel(s) to read/write data directly from/to the host memory. Unlike the XDMA data transfer, this data transfer mechanism does not utilize global memories (DDR, HBM, PLRAM, etc) on the card. This feature provides DMA bypass capability that is primarily used for data transfer on a No-DMA platform.

Kernel Compilation

Use the following V++ configuration option to configure kernel port’s connectivity to allow drive data through the AXI bridge to the host memory.

## Syntax

Host Server Setup

To enable host memory access functionality the following settings are required from the host

Hugepage Requirement

If the kernel requirement of the host memory is more than 1GB, XRT allocates multiple Hugepages from the host memory. These hugepages are internally remapped (inside the FPGA shell) so that kernel can see a large contiguous bank-like memory.

Steps required to enable Hugepages (Linux)

  1. Modify grub setup by changing the following line of the file /etc/default/grub

    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”splash quiet noresume hugepagesz=1G hugepages=4”

  2. shell>update-grub

  3. Reboot the server

  4. Verify the HugePage setting

shell>hugeadm --pool-list

    Size         Minimum  Current  Maximum  Default
    2097152        0        0        0        *
    1073741824     4        4        4

The following table can be used to determine the number of Hugepages required based on the host memory requirement

Host Mem Requirement Huge Page Setting
M <= 1GB Not Required
M>1GB and M<=2GB No of 1G HugePages = 2
M>2GB and M<=4GB No of 1G HugePages = 4
M>4GB and M<=8GB No of 1G HugePages = 8
M>8GB and M<=16GB No of 1G HugePages = 16

Enabling the Host Memory by XRT

Irrespective of the Hugepages settings, xbutil host_mem command must be used to reserve the host memory for the kernel. This has to be done upfront before the XCLBIN download. In the example below, xbutil host_mem command is used to reserve 1G, 4G, and 16G host memory respectively for 3 cards.

xbutil host_mem -d 0 --enable --size 1G
xbutil host_mem -d 1 --enable --size 4G
xbutil host_mem -d 2 --enable --size 16G

Maximum Host memory supported by the platform

For the platform supporting the host memory access feature, we can observe the following two data from the xbutil query output

  • Max HOST_MEM: The maximum host memory supported by the platform.
  • HOST_MEM size: The host memory specified for this card (by xbutil host_mem)

Assuming the platform supported maximum host memory is 16GB, the following output will be observed when the card is configured for 4GB host memory.

shell>>xbutil host_mem --enable 4G
xbutil host_mem done successfully
shell>>xbutil query
INFO: Found total 1 card(s), 1 are usable
System Configuration
OS name:      Linux
Release:      5.7.0+
Version:      #1 SMP Thu Jun 11 16:19:41 PDT 2020
Machine:      x86_64
Model:        Super Server
CPU cores:    16
Memory:       15547 MB
Glibc:        2.23
Distribution: Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS
Now:          Tue Sep 22 18:30:33 2020 GMT
XRT Information
Version:      2.8.0
Git Hash:     64ece8bdbd553e0538e99612f11d1926c609a54f
Git Branch:   ssv3_0921
Build Date:   2020-09-21 14:25:40
XOCL:         2.6.0,cd2fcd72498afa91f2a6a60d4e3c1697291cd16e
XCLMGMT:      2.6.0,cd2fcd72498afa91f2a6a60d4e3c1697291cd16e
Shell                           FPGA                            IDCode
xilinx_u250_gen3x16_xdma_shell_2_1                                0x4b57093
Vendor          Device          SubDevice       SubVendor       SerNum
0x10ee          0x5005          0x000e          0x10ee
DDR size        DDR count       Clock0          Clock1          Clock2
0 Byte          0               300             500             0
PCIe            DMA chan(bidir) MIG Calibrated  P2P Enabled     OEM ID
GEN 3x16        2               true            false           0x0(N/A)
Interface UUID
Logic UUID
DNA                             CPU_AFFINITY    HOST_MEM size   Max HOST_MEM
                                0-15            4 GB            16 GB

Host code Guideline

XRT OpenCL introduces a new buffer extension Flag XCL_MEM_EXT_HOST_ONLY that should be used to denote a Host-only buffer

cl_mem_ext_ptr_t host_buffer_ext;
host_buffer_ext.flags = XCL_MEM_EXT_HOST_ONLY;
host_buffer_ext.obj = NULL;
host_buffer_ext.param = 0;

cl::Buffer buffer_in (context,CL_MEM_READ_ONLY |CL_MEM_EXT_PTR_XILINX, size, &host_buffer_ext);
cl::Buffer buffer_out(context,CL_MEM_WRITE_ONLY |CL_MEM_EXT_PTR_XILINX, size, &host_buffer_ext);

In XRT Native APIs the xrt::bo object should be created with the flag xrt::bo::flags::host_only as shown in the example below

xrt::bo buffer_in (device, size, xrt::bo::flags::host_only, kernel.group_id(0));
xrt::bo buffer_out(device, size, xrt::bo::flags::host_only, kernel.group_id(1));

Also ensure to follow coding guideline as stated below

  • Let XRT allocate the buffer as shown in the above code examples. Do not create a buffer from an already created user-space memory. The host code should map the buffer object to the user-space for read/write operation.
  • Regular data transfer APIs (OpenCL: clEnqueueMigramemObjects/clEnqueueWriteBuffer, XRT Native API: xrt::bo::sync()) should be used. Though these API will not do any DMA operation, they are used for Cache Invalidate/Flush as the application works on the Cache memory.