Acceleration Framework

SPDK provides a framework for abstracting general acceleration capabilities that can be implemented through plug-in modules and low-level libraries. These plug-in modules include support for hardware acceleration engines such as the Intel(R) I/O Acceleration Technology (IOAT) engine and the Intel(R) Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA) engine. Additionally, a software plug-in module exists to enable use of the framework in environments without hardware acceleration capabilities. ISA/L is used for optimized CRC32C calculation within the software module.

Acceleration Framework Functions

Functions implemented via the framework can be found in the DoxyGen documentation of the framework public header file here accel.h

Acceleration Framework Design Considerations

The general interface is defined by /include/spdk/accel.h and implemented in /lib/accel. These functions may be called by an SPDK application and in most cases, except where otherwise documented, are asynchronous and follow the standard SPDK model for callbacks with a callback argument.

If the acceleration framework is started without initializing a hardware module, optimized software implementations of the operations will back the public API. All operations supported by the framework have a backing software implementation in the event that no hardware accelerators have been enabled for that operation.

When multiple hardware modules are enabled the framework will assign each operation to a module based on the order in which it was initialized. So, for example if two modules are enabled, IOAT and software, the software module will be used for every operation except those supported by IOAT.

Acceleration Low Level Libraries

Low level libraries provide only the most basic functions that are specific to the hardware. Low level libraries are located in the '/lib' directory with the exception of the software implementation which is implemented as part of the framework itself. The software low level library does not expose a public API. Applications may choose to interact directly with a low level library if there are specific needs/considerations not met via accessing the library through the framework/module. Note that when using the low level libraries directly, the framework abstracted interface is bypassed as the application will call the public functions exposed by the individual low level libraries. Thus, code written this way needs to be certain that the underlying hardware exists everywhere that it runs.

The low level library for IOAT is located in /lib/ioat. The low level library for DSA and IAA is in /lib/idxd (IDXD stands for Intel(R) Data Acceleration Driver and supports both DSA and IAA hardware accelerators). In /lib/idxd folder, SPDK supports the ability to use either user space and kernel space drivers. The following describes each usage scenario:

Leveraging user space idxd driver: The DSA devices are managed by the SPDK user space driver in a dedicated SPDK process, then the device cannot be shared by another process. The benefit of this usage is no kernel dependency.

Leveraging kernel space driver: The DSA devices are managed by kernel space drivers. And the Work queues inside the DSA device can be shared among different processes. Naturally, it can be used in cloud native scenario. The drawback of this usage is the kernel dependency, i.e., idxd kernel driver must be supported and loaded in the kernel.

Acceleration Plug-In Modules

Plug-in modules depend on low level libraries to interact with the hardware and add additional functionality such as queueing during busy conditions or flow control in some cases. The framework in turn depends on the modules to provide the complete implementation of the acceleration component. A module must be selected via startup RPC when the application is started. Otherwise, if no startup RPC is provided, the framework is available and will use the software plug-in module.

IOAT Module

To use the IOAT module, use the RPC ioat_scan_accel_module before starting the application.

DSA Module

The DSA module supports the DSA hardware and relies on the low level IDXD library.

To use the DSA module, use the RPC dsa_scan_accel_module. By default, this will attempt to load the SPDK user-space idxd driver. To use the built-in kernel driver on Linux, add the -k parameter. See the next section for details on using the kernel driver.

The DSA hardware supports a limited queue depth and channels. This means that only a limited number of spdk_threads will be able to acquire a channel. Design software to deal with the inability to get a channel.

How to use kernel idxd driver

There are several dependencies to leverage the Linux idxd driver for driving DSA devices.

1 Linux kernel support: You need to have a Linux kernel with the idxd driver loaded. Further, add the following command line options to the kernel boot commands:


2 User library dependency: Users need to install the developer version of the accel-config library. This is often packaged, but the source is available on GitHub. After the library is installed, users can use the accel-config command to configure the work queues(WQs) of the idxd devices managed by the kernel with the following steps:

Note: this library must be installed before you run configure

accel-config disable-wq dsa0/wq0.1
accel-config disable-device dsa0
accel-config config-wq --group-id=0 --mode=dedicated --wq-size=128 --type=user --name="MyApp1"
--priority=10 --block-on-fault=1 dsa0/wq0.1
accel-config config-engine dsa0/engine0.0 --group-id=0
accel-config config-engine dsa0/engine0.1 --group-id=0
accel-config config-engine dsa0/engine0.2 --group-id=0
accel-config config-engine dsa0/engine0.3 --group-id=0
accel-config enable-device dsa0
accel-config enable-wq dsa0/wq0.1

DSA can be configured in many ways, but the above configuration is needed for use with SPDK. Before you can run using the kernel driver you need to make sure that the hardware is bound to the kernel driver and not VFIO. By default when you run DSA devices will be bound to VFIO. To exclude DSA devices, pass a whitespace separated list of DSA devices BDF using the PCI_BLOCKED parameter as shown below.

sudo PCI_BLOCKED="0000:04:00.0 0000:05:00.0" ./

Note: you might need to run sudo ./ reset to unbind all drivers before performing the step above.

Software Module

The software module is enabled by default. If no hardware module is explicitly enabled via startup RPC as discussed earlier, the software module will use ISA-L if available for functions such as CRC32C. Otherwise, standard glibc calls are used to back the framework API.


The dpdk_cryptodev module uses DPDK CryptoDev API to implement crypto operations. The following ciphers and PMDs are supported:

  • AESN-NI Multi Buffer Crypto Poll Mode Driver: RTE_CRYPTO_CIPHER_AES128_CBC
  • Intel(R) QuickAssist (QAT) Crypto Poll Mode Driver: RTE_CRYPTO_CIPHER_AES128_CBC, RTE_CRYPTO_CIPHER_AES128_XTS (Note: QAT is functional however is marked as experimental until the hardware has been fully integrated with the SPDK CI system.)

To enable this module, use dpdk_cryptodev_scan_accel_module, this RPC is available in STARTUP state and the SPDK application needs to be run with --wait-for-rpc CLI parameter. To select a specific PMD, use dpdk_cryptodev_set_driver

Module to Operation Code Assignment

When multiple modules are initialized, the accel framework will assign op codes to modules by first assigning all op codes to the Software Module and then overriding op code assignments to Hardware Modules in the order in which they were initialized. The RPC accel_get_opc_assignments can be used at any time to see the current assignment map including the names of valid operations. The RPC accel_assign_opc can be used after initializing the desired Hardware Modules but before starting the framework in the event that a specific override is desired. Note that to start an application and send startup RPC's use the --wait-for-rpc parameter and then use the framework_start_init RPC to continue. For example, assume the DSA Module is initialized but for some reason the desire is to have the Software Module handle copies instead. The following RPCs would accomplish the copy override:

./scripts/ dsa_scan_accel_module
./scripts/ accel_assign_opc -o copy -m software
./scripts/ framework_start_init
./scripts/ accel_get_opc_assignments
"copy": "software",
"fill": "dsa",
"dualcast": "dsa",
"compare": "dsa",
"crc32c": "dsa",
"copy_crc32c": "dsa",
"compress": "software",
"decompress": "software"

To determine the name of available modules and their supported operations use the RPC accel_get_module_info.