Attaching physical PCI devices to guests

The PCI passthrough feature in OpenStack allows full access and direct control of a physical PCI device in guests. This mechanism is generic for any kind of PCI device, and runs with a Network Interface Card (NIC), Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), or any other devices that can be attached to a PCI bus. Correct driver installation is the only requirement for the guest to properly use the devices.

Some PCI devices provide Single Root I/O Virtualization and Sharing (SR-IOV) capabilities. When SR-IOV is used, a physical device is virtualized and appears as multiple PCI devices. Virtual PCI devices are assigned to the same or different guests. In the case of PCI passthrough, the full physical device is assigned to only one guest and cannot be shared.


For information on creating servers with virtual SR-IOV devices, refer to the Networking Guide.


  • Attaching SR-IOV ports to existing servers is not currently supported. This is now rejected by the API but previously it fail later in the process. See bug 1708433 for details.

  • Cold migration (resize) of servers with SR-IOV devices attached was not supported until the 14.0.0 Newton release, see bug 1512800 for details.

To enable PCI passthrough, follow the steps below.


The PCI device with address 0000:41:00.0, the vendor ID of 8086 and the product ID of 154d is used as an example. This will differ between environments.

Configure nova-scheduler (Controller)

The nova-scheduler service must be configured to enable the PciPassthroughFilter. To do this, add this filter to the list of filters specified in filter_scheduler.enabled_filters and set filter_scheduler.available_filters to the default of nova.scheduler.filters.all_filters. For example:

enabled_filters = ...,PciPassthroughFilter
available_filters = nova.scheduler.filters.all_filters

Once done, restart the nova-scheduler service.

Configure nova-api (Controller)

PCI devices are requested through flavor extra specs, specifically via the pci_passthrough:alias flavor extra spec. However, the aliases themselves must be configured. This done via the pci.alias configuration option. For example, to configure a PCI alias a1 to request a PCI device with a vendor ID of 0x8086 and a product ID of 0x154d:

alias = { "vendor_id":"8086", "product_id":"154d", "device_type":"type-PF", "name":"a1" }

Refer to pci.alias for syntax information.

Once configured, restart the nova-api service.


This option must also be configured on compute nodes. This is discussed later in this document.

Configure a flavor (API)

Once the alias has been configured, it can be used for an flavor extra spec. For example, to request two of the PCI devices referenced by alias a1, run:

$ openstack flavor set m1.large --property "pci_passthrough:alias"="a1:2"

For more information about the syntax for pci_passthrough:alias, refer to Flavors.

Configure host (Compute)

To enable PCI passthrough on an x86, Linux-based compute node, the following are required:

  • VT-d enabled in the BIOS

  • IOMMU enabled on the host OS, by adding the intel_iommu=on or amd_iommu=on parameter to the kernel parameters

  • Assignable PCIe devices

To enable PCI passthrough on a Hyper-V compute node, the following are required:

  • Windows 10 or Windows / Hyper-V Server 2016 or newer

  • VT-d enabled on the host

  • Assignable PCI devices

In order to check the requirements above and if there are any assignable PCI devices, run the following Powershell commands:


If the compute node passes all the requirements, the desired assignable PCI devices to be disabled and unmounted from the host, in order to be assignable by Hyper-V. The following can be read for more details: Hyper-V PCI passthrough.

Configure nova-compute (Compute)

Once PCI passthrough has been configured for the host, nova-compute must be configured to allow the PCI device to pass through to VMs. This is done using the pci.passthrough_whitelist option. For example, to enable passthrough of a specific device using its address:

passthrough_whitelist = { "address": "0000:41:00.0" }

Refer to pci.passthrough_whitelist for syntax information.

Alternatively, to enable passthrough of all devices with the same product and vendor ID:

passthrough_whitelist = { "vendor_id": "8086", "product_id": "154d" }

If using vendor and product IDs, all PCI devices matching the vendor_id and product_id are added to the pool of PCI devices available for passthrough to VMs.

In addition, it is necessary to configure the pci.alias option on the compute node too. This is required to allow resizes of guests with PCI devices. This should be identical to the alias configured previously. For example:

alias = { "vendor_id":"8086", "product_id":"154d", "device_type":"type-PF", "name":"a1" }

Refer to pci.alias for syntax information.

Once configured, restart the nova-compute service.

Create instances with PCI passthrough devices

The nova-scheduler service selects a destination host that has PCI devices available that match the alias specified in the flavor.

# openstack server create --flavor m1.large --image cirros-0.3.5-x86_64-uec --wait test-pci