libvirt driver launching AMD SEV-encrypted instances

libvirt driver launching AMD SEV-encrypted instances

This spec proposes work required in order for nova’s libvirt driver to support launching of KVM instances which are encrypted using AMD’s SEV (Secure Encrypted Virtualization) technology.

Problem description

While data is typically encrypted today when stored on disk, it is stored in DRAM in the clear. This can leave the data vulnerable to snooping by unauthorized administrators or software, or by hardware probing. New non-volatile memory technology (NVDIMM) exacerbates this problem since an NVDIMM chip can be physically removed from a system with the data intact, similar to a hard drive. Without encryption any stored information such as sensitive data, passwords, or secret keys can be easily compromised.

AMD’s SEV offers a VM protection technology which transparently encrypts the memory of each VM with a unique key. It can also calculate a signature of the memory contents, which can be sent to the VM’s owner as an attestation that the memory was encrypted correctly by the firmware. SEV is particularly applicable to cloud computing since it can reduce the amount of trust VMs need to place in the hypervisor and administrator of their host system.

Use Cases

  1. As a cloud administrator, in order that my users can have greater confidence in the security of their running instances, I want to provide a flavor containing an SEV-specific extra spec resource requirement which will allow users booting instances with that flavor to ensure that their instances run on an SEV-capable compute host with SEV encryption enabled.

  2. As a cloud user, in order to not have to trust my cloud operator with my secrets, I want to be able to boot VM instances with SEV functionality enabled.

Proposed change

For Train, the goal is a minimal but functional implementation which would satisfy the above use cases. It is proposed that initial development and testing would include the following deliverables:

  • Add detection of host SEV capabilities. Logic is required to check that the various layers of the hardware and software hypervisor stack are SEV-capable:

    Note that both checks are required, since the presence of the first does not imply the second.

  • Implement a new MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource class which represents the number of guests with secure encrypted memory which a compute host can run concurrently (due to a limited number of slots for encryption keys in the memory controller). It will be zero for hosts which do not support SEV.

  • Update the documentation for the HW_CPU_AMD_SEV trait in os-traits to indicate that a) it cannot be used yet, only in the future when SEV support is fully implemented, and b) even at that point it should not be used via trait:HW_CPU_AMD_SEV=required, because the new resource class should be used instead.

    The trait has been present since 0.11.0, and was added in the Stein cycle on the basis of the design in the previous version of this spec accepted for Stein. However since then we have realised that we need to track the SEV capability as a discretely quantifiable resource rather than as a binary feature, therefore the MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource class will supersede it as the low-level mechanism for indicating when an SEV context is required.

    It is regrettable to have to back-pedal on this element of the design; however nothing used the HW_CPU_AMD_SEV trait yet so it seems very unlikely that this would cause an issue for anyone. It will not be removed for two reasons:

    1. The os-traits project has a policy of never removing any traits, based on the idea that an extensible-only set of traits is easier to manage than one which can be shrunk. For example, a sync of the traits with the placement database will never need to worry about removing entries or corresponding foreign keys.

    2. It seems helpful to provide the trait anyway, even though it’s not strictly required. In fact the code to do so is already under review, so hardly any extra work would be required.

      One use case suggested was implementing anti-affinity of non-SEV guests with SEV hosts, thereby keeping SEV hosts as free as possible for SEV guests. This could be achieved simply by placing trait:HW_CPU_AMD_SEV=forbidden on all non-SEV flavors, although a more sophisticated approach might take advantage of a future implementation of a parallel proposal for forbidden aggregates.

      Another use case might be to allow operators and users to distinguish between multiple mechanisms for encrypting guest memory available from different vendors within a single cloud, e.g. if the compute plane contained a mix of machines supporting AMD SEV and Intel MKTME.

      However, any implementations of those use cases are outside the scope of this spec.

  • Make the libvirt driver update the ProviderTree object with the correct inventory for the new MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource class. For example on EPYC machines the maximum number of SEV guests supported is expected to be 15.

    Since it is not currently possible to obtain this limit programmatically via libvirt, introduce a new config option in the [libvirt] section of nova.conf to set the size of this inventory for each SEV-capable compute host. This would default to None with a forward-looking meaning of “auto-detect the inventory, or if this is not possible, don’t impose any limit”. This would have two benefits:

    1. Operators are not forced to make any configuration changes to take advantage of SEV out of the box. Guest VMs may fail to launch if the host’s real capacity is exceeded, but if that becomes a problem, operators can just set the value.

    2. No configuration changes are needed once auto-detection is introduced. For example, if auto-detection obtains the same value as a manually configured limit, a warning could be emitted deprecating the configuration option, and if it obtained a different value, an error could be raised, or at least a warning that the auto-detected value would be used instead.

    See the Limitations section for more information on this.

  • Change the libvirt driver to include extra XML in the guest’s domain definition when resources:MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT=1 is present in the flavor extra specs, in order to ensure the following:

    • SEV security is enabled via the <launchSecurity> element, as detailed in the SEV launch-time configuration section below.

    • The boot disk cannot be virtio-blk (due to a resource constraint w.r.t. bounce buffers).

    • The VM uses machine type q35 and UEFI via OVMF. (q35 is required in order to bind all the virtio devices to the PCIe bridge so that they use virtio 1.0 and not virtio 0.9, since QEMU’s iommu_platform feature is added in virtio 1.0 only.)

      If SEV’s requirement of a Q35 machine type cannot be satisfied by hw_machine_type specified by the image (if present), or the value specified by libvirt.hw_machine_type in nova.conf (which is not set by default), then an exception should be raised so that the build fails.

    • The iommu attribute is on for all virtio devices. Despite the name, this does not require the guest or host to have an IOMMU device, but merely enables the virtio flag which indicates that virtualized DMA should be used. This ties into the SEV code to handle memory encryption/decryption, and prevents IO buffers being shared between host and guest.

      The DMA will go through bounce buffers, so some overhead is expected compared to non-SEV guests.

      (Note: virtio-net device queues are not encrypted.)

    • The <locked/> element is present in the <memoryBacking> section of the domain’s XML, for reasons which are explained in the Memory locking and accounting section below.

    So for example assuming a 4GB VM:

    <domain type='kvm'>
        <type arch='x86_64' machine='pc-q35-2.11'>hvm</type>
        <loader readonly='yes' type='pflash'>/usr/share/qemu/ovmf-x86_64-ms-4m-code.bin</loader>
        <boot dev='hd'/>
      <launchSecurity type='sev'>
        <rng model='virtio'>
          <driver iommu='on'/>
        <memballoon model='virtio'>
          <driver iommu='on' />
          <model type='qxl' ram='65536' vram='65536' vgamem='16384' heads='1'  primary='yes'/>

    For reference, the AMDSEV GitHub repository provides a complete example of a domain’s XML definition with libvirt’s SEV options enabled.

  • Add support for a new hw:mem_encryption parameter in flavor extra specs, and a new hw_mem_encryption image property. When either of these is set to true, it would be translated behind the scenes into resources:MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT=1 which would be added to the flavor extra specs in the RequestSpec object. (This change to the flavor would only affect this launch context and not be persisted to the database.)

    Implementing this new parameter, which hides the implementation of the resource inventory and allocation behind an abstraction, has a few advantages:

    1. It makes it more user-friendly and oriented around the functionality provided.

    2. It allows us to change or extend the implementation later without changing the user interface, for example when adding support for similar functionality from other vendors.

    3. The translation from image property to extra spec allows us to provide a special exception to the deliberate design decision that image properties don’t normally facilitate placing requirements on specific resource classes in the same way that extra specs are allowed to.

SEV launch-time configuration

cbitpos and reducedPhysBits are dependent on the processor family, and can be obtained through the sev element from the domain capabilities.

policy allows a particular SEV policy, as documented in the AMD SEV-KM API Specification. Initially the policy will be hardcoded and not modifiable by cloud tenants or cloud operators. The policy will be:


which equates to 0x0033. In the future, when support is added to QEMU and libvirt, this will permit live migration to other machines in the same cluster 1 (i.e. with the same OCA cert), but doesn’t permit other guests or the hypervisor to directly inspect memory.

A future spec could be submitted to make this policy configurable via an extra spec or image property.

SEV-ES (Encrypted State, which encrypts the guest register state to protect it from the hypervisor) is not yet ready, but may be added to this policy later.


Even though live migration is not currently supported by the hypervisor software stack, it will be in the future.

Memory locking and accounting

The presence of the <locked/> element in the <memoryBacking> section of the domain’s XML will cause libvirt to pass -realtime mlock=on to QEMU, which in turn causes QEMU to set RLIMIT_MEMLOCK to RLIM_INFINITY.

This is needed due to a chain of factors listed immediately below:

  • Whilst -realtime mlock=on will cause QEMU to invoke mlockall(2), to prevent pages from swapping out, this is not sufficient to prevent the locked pages from migrating within physical memory, as explained in the “migrating mlocked pages” section of the Unevictable LRU infrastructure kernel documentation.

  • Similarly, whilst the use of hugepages would pin pages to prevent them swapping out, it would not prevent them migrating. Additionally hugepages would only allow pinning of guest RAM, not the other memory chunks required by QEMU.

    Having said that, hugepages may still be useful for accounting, as explained below.

  • All the memory pages allocated by QEMU must be pinned (not just those allocated for guest RAM, but also video RAM, UEFI ROM / pflash, pc.rom, isa-bios, and ACPI tables), so that they cannot even be migrated around in physical memory, let alone swapped out. This is because the SEV memory encryption engine uses a tweak such that two identical plaintext pages at a different locations will have different ciphertexts, so swapping or moving ciphertext of two pages will not result in the plaintext being swapped. In typical page migration, the pgtable tables are updated and contents are copied from the source to the destination. However in the SEV case, the contents copy phase will not provide correct results because the pages contains the encrypted data.

  • Therefore in order to pin the allocated pages to prevent them migrating, QEMU’s SEV implementation will issue special KVM_MEMORY_ENCRYPT_{REG,UNREG}_REGION ioctls as documented in the kernel’s KVM API documentation.

    These ioctls take memory regions and pin them using the kernel APIs which ensures that those ranges are excluded from the page move rcu list. While pinning the pages, KVM checks RLIMIT_MEMLOCK to ensure that it does not blindly act upon the request and exceed that rlimit. If the rlimit is not large enough then pinning the pages through this ioctl will fail.

  • Initially it was planned to ensure that the rlimit was raised sufficiently high enough by setting a hard memory limit via <hard_limit> in the <memtune> section of the domain’s XML. However, it was later pointed out that not only it is very hard to calculate a safe upper limit for the rlimit, and that using incorrect values will cause virtual machines to die, but also that this could be very wasteful because each guest would require the worst-case (highest) upper limit.

  • Therefore a better approach was proposed where the rlimit for each guest is set to RLIM_INFINITY, and host memory reservation is enacted at the /machine.slice top-level cgroup, with all VMs placed inside that. The latter will protect the host OS from running out of memory due to VM overcommit.

This problem of correct memory accounting and safe memory locking is not specific to SEV. Granted, SEV’s requirement to lock pages in memory to prevent the use of swap does alter the nature of the potential impact when oversubscription occurs, so that rather than launching VMs and incurring heavy swapping, the VMs would fail to launch in the first place. In fact, arguably this “fail-fast” approach is more desirable, since it is less likely to impact other VMs which are already running.

One suggestion proposed for more correct memory accounting was to use hugepages for SEV guests, which are not only beneficial for performance but also allows reuse of nova’s existing ability to track hugepages per NUMA node and account for them in the resource tracker. However it appears that this would only allow accounting of guest RAM, not the other memory chunks required by QEMU.

Other options include reserved_host_memory_mb, or even simply leaving the OS distributions to take care of configuring the rlimit in the /machine.slice cgroup in their virtualization stacks as mentioned above.

However as long as operators are given clear guidance about how to correctly mitigate these risks associated with memory reservation (as detailed in the Documentation Impact section below), it is proposed that obtaining a full solution should remain outside the scope of this spec, and therefore not block it.

Note that this memory pinning is expected to be a temporary requirement; the latest firmwares already support page copying (as documented by the COPY API in the AMD SEV-KM API Specification), so when the OS starts supporting the page-move or page-migration commmand then it will no longer be needed. However we still need to work with older firmware and kernel combinations.


The following limitations may be removed in the future as the hardware, firmware, and various layer of software receive new features:

  • SEV-encrypted VMs cannot yet be live-migrated, or suspended, consequently nor resumed. As already mentioned, support is coming in the future. However this does mean that in the short term, usage of SEV will have an impact on compute node maintenance, since SEV-encrypted instances will need to be fully shut down before migrating off an SEV host.

  • SEV-encrypted VMs cannot contain directly accessible host devices (PCI passthrough). So for example mdev vGPU support will not currently work. However technologies based on vhost-user should work fine.

  • The boot disk of SEV-encrypted VMs cannot be virtio-blk. Using virtio-scsi or SATA for the boot disk works as expected, as does virtio-blk for non-boot disks.

  • Operators will initially be required to manually specify the upper limit of SEV guests for each compute host, via the new configuration option proposed above. This is a short-term workaround to the current lack of mechanism for programmatically discovering the SEV guest limit via libvirt.

    This configuration option temporarily reduces the SEV detection code proposed from essential into more of a safety check, defending against an operator accidentally setting the config value to non-zero on a non-SEV host. However the detection code is already close to complete, and is also still worth having long-term, since it will allow us to remove the requirement for operators to manually specify the upper limit as soon as it becomes possible to obtain it programmatically. At the time of writing, a patch to expose the SEV guest limit in QEMU is under review, but will not be available until the 4.1.0 release at the earliest. A follow-up patch to libvirt is expected which will expose it via the <domainCapabilities> XML mentioned above.

    This config option could later be demoted to a fallback value for cases where the limit cannot be detected programmatically, or even removed altogether when nova’s minimum QEMU version guarantees that it can always be detected.

    Deployment tools may decide to layer an additional config value set centrally, representing a default non-zero limit for hosts where SEV is automatically detected. So for example if all your SEV-capable hosts were EPYC machines with the same maximum of 15 SEV guests, you could set that to 15 in one place and then rely on the automatic SEV detection code already proposed to set the MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT inventory for that host to 15, without having to set it manually on each host.

  • Failures at VM launch-time may occasionally occur in the initial implementation, for example if the q35 machine type is unavailable (although this should be rare, since q35 is nearly 11 years old), or some other required virtual component such as UEFI is unavailable. Future work may track availability of required components so that failure can occur earlier, at placement time. This potentially increases the chance of placement finding an alternative host which can provide all the required components, and thereby successfully booting the guest.

The following limitations are expected long-term:

  • The number of SEV guests allowed to run concurrently will always be limited. On EPYC machines it will be limited to 15 guests.

  • The operating system running in an encrypted virtual machine must contain SEV support.

  • The q35 machine type does not provide an IDE controller, therefore IDE devices are not supported. In particular this means that nova’s libvirt driver’s current default behaviour on the x86_64 architecture of attaching the config drive as an iso9660 IDE CD-ROM device will not work. There are two potential workarounds:

    1. Change CONF.config_drive_format in nova.conf from its default value iso9660 to vfat. This will result in virtio being used instead. However this per-host setting could potentially break images with legacy OS’s which expect the config drive to be an IDE CD-ROM. It would also not deal with other CD-ROM devices.

    2. Set the (largely undocumented) hw_cdrom_bus image property to virtio, which is recommended as a replacement for ide, and hw_scsi_model to virtio-scsi.

    Some potentially cleaner long-term solutions which require code changes are suggested as a stretch goal in the Work Items section below.

For the sake of eliminating any doubt, the following actions are not expected to be limited when SEV encryption is used:

  • Cold migration or shelve, since they power off the VM before the operation at which point there is no encrypted memory (although this could change since there is work underway to add support for PMEM)

  • Snapshot, since it only snapshots the disk

  • Evacuate, since this is only initiated when the VM is assumed to be dead or there is a good reason to kill it

  • Attaching any volumes, as long as they do not require attaching via an IDE bus

  • Use of spice / VNC / serial / RDP consoles

  • VM guest virtual NUMA (a.k.a. vNUMA)


It has been suggested to name the resource class in a vendor-specific way, for example AMD_SEV_CONTEXT. This would avoid hard-coding any assumptions that similar functionality from Intel (e.g. MKTME) and other vendors in the future would be subject to the same limit on the number of guests with encrypted memory which can run concurrently. However this raises other challenges; for example in a cloud with mixed compute hardware from AMD and Intel both providing secure encrypted guest memory functionality, extra specs are currently incapable of expressing a requirement for either AMD SEV hardware or Intel MKTME hardware. Therefore there would be no way to translate the vendor-agnostic hw:mem_encryption=true extra spec parameter or hw_mem_encryption image property into an extra spec parameter which would achieve the desired effect.

Some fundamentally different approaches to SEV were originally proposed in the previous version of this spec accepted for Stein. However since then a significant amount of code has been both merged and submitted for review implementing the main proposed change above, not to mention considerable hours of discussion refining this approach.

Therefore it seems very unlikely that any of those alternatives will be used, especially considering the move from a trait-oriented design to one oriented around a new resource class; therefore they are omitted here.

Data model impact

A new resource class will be used to inventory slots for SEV guests on SEV-capable compute hosts.

A new configuration option will be used (at least in the short term) to specify the maximum number of SEV guests runnable on each compute host.

No new data objects or database schema changes will be required.

REST API impact

None, although future work may require extending the REST API so that users can verify the hardware’s attestation that the memory was encrypted correctly by the firmware. However if such an extension would not be useful in other virt drivers across multiple CPU vendors, it may be preferable to deliver this functionality via an independent AMD-specific service.

Security impact

This change does not add or handle any secret information other than of course data within the guest VM’s encrypted memory. The secrets used to implement SEV are locked inside the AMD hardware. The hardware random number generator uses the CTR_DRBG construct from NIST SP 800-90A which has not been found to be susceptible to any back doors. It uses AES counter mode to generate the random numbers.

SEV protects data of a VM from attacks originating from outside the VM, including the hypervisor and other VMs. Attacks which trick the hypervisor into reading pages from another VM will not work because the data obtained will be encrypted with a key which is inaccessible to the attacker and the hypervisor. SEV protects data in caches by tagging each cacheline with the owner of that data which prevents the hypervisor and other VMs from reading the cached data.

SEV does not protect against side-channel attacks against the VM itself or attacks on software running in the VM. It is important to keep the VM up to date with patches and properly configure the software running on the VM.

This first proposed implementation provides some protection but is notably missing the ability for the cloud user to verify the attestation which SEV can provide using the LAUNCH_MEASURE firmware call. Adding such attestation ability in the future would mean that much less trust would need to be placed in the cloud administrator because the VM would be encrypted and integrity protected using keys the cloud user provides to the SEV firmware over a protected channel. The cloud user would then know with certainty that they are running the proper image, that the memory is indeed encrypted, and that they are running on an authentic AMD platform with SEV hardware and not an impostor platform setup to steal their data. The cloud user can verify all of this before providing additional secrets to the VM, for example storage decryption keys. This spec is a proposed first step in the process of obtaining the full value that SEV can offer to prevent the cloud administrator from being able to access the data of the cloud users.

It is strongly recommended that the OpenStack Security Group is kept in the loop and given the opportunity to review each stage of work, to help ensure that security is implemented appropriately.

Notifications impact

It may be desirable to access the information that the instance is running encrypted, e.g. a billing cloud provider might want to impose a security surcharge, whereby encrypted instances are billed differently to unencrypted ones. However this should require no immediate impact on notifications, since the instance payload in the versioned notification has the flavor along with its extra specs, where the MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource would be defined.

In the case where the SEV resource is specified on the image backing the server rather than on the flavor, the notification would just have the image UUID in it. The consumer could look up the image by UUID to check for the presence of the MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource, although this does open up a potential race window where image properties could change after the instance was created. This could be remedied by future work which would include image properties in the instance launch notification, or storing the image metadata in instance_extra as is currently done for the flavor. Alternatively it may be sufficient to check for the translation to resources:MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT=1 in the extra specs.

Other end user impact

The end user will harness SEV through the existing mechanisms of resources in flavor extra specs and image properties. Later on it may make sense to add support for scheduler hints (see the Future Work section below).

Performance Impact

No performance impact on nova is anticipated.

Preliminary testing indicates that the expected performance impact on a VM of enabling SEV is moderate; a degradation of 1% to 6% has been observed depending on the particular workload and test. More details can be seen in slides 4–6 of AMD’s presentation on SEV-ES at the 2017 Linux Security Summit.

If compression is being used on swap disks then more storage may be required because the memory of encrypted VMs will not compress to a smaller size.

Memory deduplication mechanisms such as KSM (kernel samepage merging) would be rendered ineffective.

Other deployer impact

In order for users to be able to use SEV, the operator will need to perform the following steps:

  • Deploy SEV-capable hardware as nova compute hosts.

  • Ensure that they have an appropriately configured software stack, so that the various layers are all SEV ready:

    • kernel >= 4.16

    • QEMU >= 2.12

    • libvirt >= 4.5

    • ovmf >= commit 75b7aa9528bd 2018-07-06

Finally, a cloud administrator will need to define SEV-enabled flavors as described above, unless it is sufficient for users to define SEV-enabled images.

Developer impact


Upgrade impact




Primary assignee:


Other contributors:

Various developers from SUSE and AMD

Work Items

It is expected that following sequence of extensions, or similar, will need to be made to nova’s libvirt driver:

  1. Add detection of host SEV capabilities as detailed above.

  2. Add a new configuration option in the [libvirt] section of nova.conf to set the maximum number of SEV guests allowed per SEV compute host.

  3. Add a new MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource class representing the discrete number of slots available on each SEV compute host.

  4. Make the libvirt driver update the ProviderTree object with the correct inventory for the new MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT resource class. For now, set this value using the new configuration option introduced above. It should also take into account the results of the SEV detection code.

  5. Update the documentation for the HW_CPU_AMD_SEV trait in os-traits.

  6. Add a new nova.virt.libvirt.LibvirtConfigGuestSEVLaunchSecurity class to describe the <launchSecurity/> element.

  7. Extend nova.virt.libvirt.LibvirtDriver to add the required XML to the VM’s domain definition if MEM_ENCRYPTION_CONTEXT=1 is in the allocations dictionary passed to the libvirt driver’s spawn() method, and the host is SEV-capable.

  8. Determine whether hugepages should be used, and if so, whether they can help with accounting.

  9. Add support for a new hw:mem_encryption parameter in flavor extra specs, and a new hw_mem_encryption image property as described above. Most likely these can be implemented via a new request filter in

  10. Since live migration between hosts is not (yet) supported for

    prevent nova from live-migrating any SEV-encrypted instance, or resizing onto a different compute host. Alternatively, nova could catch the error raised by QEMU, which would be propagated via libvirt, and handle it appropriately. We could build in higher-layer checks later if it becomes a major nuisance for operators.

  11. Similarly, attempts to suspend / resume an SEV-encrypted domain are not yet supported, and therefore should either be prevented, or the error caught and handled.

  12. (Stretch goal) Adopt one of the following suggested code changes for reducing or even eliminating usage on x86 architectures of the IDE bus for CD-ROM devices such as the config drive:

    1. Simply change the hardcoded usage of an IDE bus for CD-ROMs on x86 to scsi to be consistent with all other CPU architectures, since it appears that the use of ide only remains due to legacy x86 code and the fact that support for other CPU architectures was added later. The hw_cdrom_bus=ide image property could override this on legacy images lacking SCSI support.

    2. Auto-detect the cases where the VM has no IDE controller, and automatically switch to scsi or virtio-scsi in those cases.

    3. Introduce a new nova.conf option for specifying the default bus to use for CD-ROMs. Then for instance the default could be scsi (for consistency with other CPU architectures) or virtio, with hw_cdrom_bus overriding this value where needed. This is likely to be more future-proof as the use of very old machine types is gradually phased out, although the downside is a small risk of breaking legacy images.

      If there exist clouds where such legacy x86 images are common, the option could then be set to ide and hw_cdrom_bus=virtio overriding when newer machine types are required for SEV (or any other reason). Although this is perhaps sufficiently unlikely as to make a new config option overkill.

Additionally documentation should be written, as detailed in the Documentation Impact section below.

Future work

Looking beyond Train, there is scope for several strands of additional work for enriching nova’s SEV support:

  • Extend the ComputeCapabilitiesFilter scheduler filter to support scheduler hints, so that SEV can be chosen to be enabled per instance, eliminating the need for operators to configure SEV-specific flavors or images.

  • If there is sufficient demand from users, make the SEV policy configurable via an extra spec or image property.

  • Provide some mechanism by which users can access the attestation measurement provided by SEV’s LAUNCH_MEASURE command, in order to verify that the guest memory was encrypted correctly by the firmware. For example, nova’s API could be extended; however if this cannot be done in a manner which applies across virt drivers / CPU vendors, then it may fall outside the scope of nova and require an alternative approach such as a separate AMD-only endpoint.



The fakelibvirt test driver will need adaptation to emulate SEV-capable hardware.

Corresponding unit/functional tests will need to be extended or added to cover:

  • detection of SEV-capable hardware and software, e.g. perhaps as an extension of nova.tests.functional.libvirt.test_report_cpu_traits.LibvirtReportTraitsTests

  • the use of a trait to include extra SEV-specific libvirt domain XML configuration, e.g. within nova.tests.unit.virt.libvirt.test_config

There will likely be issues to address due to hard-coded assumptions oriented towards Intel CPUs either in Nova code or its tests.

Tempest tests could also be included if SEV hardware is available, either in the gate or via third-party CI.

Documentation Impact

  • A new entry should be added in the Feature Support Matrix, which refers to the new trait and shows the current limitations.

  • The KVM section of the Configuration Guide should be updated with details of how to set up SEV-capable hypervisors. It would be prudent to mention the current limitations here too, including the impact on config drive configuration, compute host maintenance, the need to correctly calculate reserved_host_memory_mb based on the expected maximum number of SEV guests simultaneously running on the host, and the details provided above (such as memory region sizes) which cover how to calculate it correctly.

Other non-nova documentation should be updated too:



Release Name






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