Direct Write to PMem

Direct Write to PMem is a readiness of hardware and software configuration which allows effectively and persistently write data to PMem physically attached to one system from another system using RDMA-capable network. How to achieve Direct Write to PMem capability may differ from system to system because of variety of potential ‘interruptions’ (e.g. caching) in data’s way to be stored persistently on PMem.

For the 2nd and the 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors (Cascade Lake and Ice Lake) the only configuration item one should take care of is Intel® Data Direct I/O Technology (DDIO). DDIO assumes the good enough place to effectively store data coming from the RDMA (and any other DMA traffic) is the CPU LLC from which CPU can access it more easily than when it would be stored in DRAM or on PMem [1]. This is beneficial for any other DMA traffic but prevents from achieving Direct Write to PMem. For more information on DDIO and its configuration please see the list of references [1][2].

The ways to disable/enable Intel® Data Direct I/O Technology (DDIO) vary by processor generation. For details see sections below for the 3rd (Ice Lake) and the 2nd (Cascade Lake) Processor Generations.

3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors (Ice Lake)

For the Ice Lake processor DDIO can be turned off (enabling Direct Write to PMem at the same time) only globally for all DMA traffic in the system. Please contact your BIOS provider for details.

2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors (Cascade Lake)

For the Cascade Lake processor DDIO can be turned off (at the same time enabling Direct Write to PMem) at least at two possible levels:

  • globally for all DMA traffic in the system or

  • for a PCIe Root Port which affects only the DMA traffic coming from PCIe devices physically attached to this PCIe Root Port

Because having DDIO turned on is a desirable state for most of the workloads, turning it off globally is not considered here. Nonetheless, if one would like to do this please contact your BIOS provider for details.

Finding the right PCIe Root Port

You can finding the PCIe Root Port of the network interface knowing its producer and model in a single query:

$ lspci -vt | grep Mellanox
 +-[1234:56]-+-78.9-[18]--+-00.0  Mellanox Technologies MT27800 Family [ConnectX-5]
 |           |            \-00.1  Mellanox Technologies MT27800 Family [ConnectX-5]

The lspci -vt command shows a tree-like diagram containing all buses, bridges, devices and connections between them. The top most level of this tree is the PCIe Root Port address. In this case it should be written as 1234:56:78.9. [3]

Turning off DDIO

For turning on and off DDIO on per-PCIe Root Port basis please use the utility available in the librpma repository.

$ PCIe_Root_Port=1234:56:78.9
$ sudo ./ -d $PCIe_Root_Port -q
$ echo $?

The 1 at the end of the output in this case means the DDIO feature is turned on for this PCIe Root Port which is the default for the Cascade Lake platforms. In this case, it is required to turn it off for each Cascade Lake system with PMem if you want to have Direct Write to PMem capability via RDMA. For details please see rpma_peer_cfg_set_direct_write_to_pmem(3) and rpma_flush(3).

$ sudo ./ -d $PCIe_Root_Port -s disable
$ sudo ./ -d $PCIe_Root_Port -q
$ echo $?



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