NVMe Emulation

QEMU provides NVMe emulation through the nvme, nvme-ns and nvme-subsys devices.

See the following sections for specific information on

Adding NVMe Devices

Controller Emulation

The QEMU emulated NVMe controller implements version 1.4 of the NVM Express specification. All mandatory features are implement with a couple of exceptions and limitations:

  • Accounting numbers in the SMART/Health log page are reset when the device is power cycled.
  • Interrupt Coalescing is not supported and is disabled by default.

The simplest way to attach an NVMe controller on the QEMU PCI bus is to add the following parameters:

-drive file=nvm.img,if=none,id=nvm
-device nvme,serial=deadbeef,drive=nvm

There are a number of optional general parameters for the nvme device. Some are mentioned here, but see -device nvme,help to list all possible parameters.

max_ioqpairs=UINT32 (default: 64)
Set the maximum number of allowed I/O queue pairs. This replaces the deprecated num_queues parameter.
msix_qsize=UINT16 (default: 65)
The number of MSI-X vectors that the device should support.
mdts=UINT8 (default: 7)
Set the Maximum Data Transfer Size of the device.
use-intel-id (default: off)
Since QEMU 5.2, the device uses a QEMU allocated “Red Hat” PCI Device and Vendor ID. Set this to on to revert to the unallocated Intel ID previously used.

Additional Namespaces

In the simplest possible invocation sketched above, the device only support a single namespace with the namespace identifier 1. To support multiple namespaces and additional features, the nvme-ns device must be used.

-device nvme,id=nvme-ctrl-0,serial=deadbeef
-drive file=nvm-1.img,if=none,id=nvm-1
-device nvme-ns,drive=nvm-1
-drive file=nvm-2.img,if=none,id=nvm-2
-device nvme-ns,drive=nvm-2

The namespaces defined by the nvme-ns device will attach to the most recently defined nvme-bus that is created by the nvme device. Namespace identifers are allocated automatically, starting from 1.

There are a number of parameters available:

nsid (default: 0)
Explicitly set the namespace identifier.
uuid (default: autogenerated)
Set the UUID of the namespace. This will be reported as a “Namespace UUID” descriptor in the Namespace Identification Descriptor List.
If there are more nvme devices defined, this parameter may be used to attach the namespace to a specific nvme device (identified by an id parameter on the controller device).

NVM Subsystems

Additional features becomes available if the controller device (nvme) is linked to an NVM Subsystem device (nvme-subsys).

The NVM Subsystem emulation allows features such as shared namespaces and multipath I/O.

-device nvme-subsys,id=nvme-subsys-0,nqn=subsys0
-device nvme,serial=a,subsys=nvme-subsys-0
-device nvme,serial=b,subsys=nvme-subsys-0

This will create an NVM subsystem with two controllers. Having controllers linked to an nvme-subsys device allows additional nvme-ns parameters:

shared (default: off)
Specifies that the namespace will be attached to all controllers in the subsystem. If set to off (the default), the namespace will remain a private namespace and may only be attached to a single controller at a time.
detached (default: off)
If set to on, the namespace will be be available in the subsystem, but not attached to any controllers initially.

Thus, adding

-drive file=nvm-1.img,if=none,id=nvm-1
-device nvme-ns,drive=nvm-1,nsid=1,shared=on
-drive file=nvm-2.img,if=none,id=nvm-2
-device nvme-ns,drive=nvm-2,nsid=3,detached=on

will cause NSID 1 will be a shared namespace (due to shared=on) that is initially attached to both controllers. NSID 3 will be a private namespace (i.e. only attachable to a single controller at a time) and will not be attached to any controller initially (due to detached=on).

Optional Features

Controller Memory Buffer

nvme device parameters related to the Controller Memory Buffer support:

cmb_size_mb=UINT32 (default: 0)
This adds a Controller Memory Buffer of the given size at offset zero in BAR 2.
legacy-cmb (default: off)
By default, the device uses the “v1.4 scheme” for the Controller Memory Buffer support (i.e, the CMB is initially disabled and must be explicitly enabled by the host). Set this to on to behave as a v1.3 device wrt. the CMB.

Simple Copy

The device includes support for TP 4065 (“Simple Copy Command”). A number of additional nvme-ns device parameters may be used to control the Copy command limits:

mssrl=UINT16 (default: 128)
Set the Maximum Single Source Range Length (MSSRL). This is the maximum number of logical blocks that may be specified in each source range.
mcl=UINT32 (default: 128)
Set the Maximum Copy Length (MCL). This is the maximum number of logical blocks that may be specified in a Copy command (the total for all source ranges).
msrc=UINT8 (default: 127)
Set the Maximum Source Range Count (MSRC). This is the maximum number of source ranges that may be used in a Copy command. This is a 0’s based value.

Zoned Namespaces

A namespaces may be “Zoned” as defined by TP 4053 (“Zoned Namespaces”). Set zoned=on on an nvme-ns device to configure it as a zoned namespace.

The namespace may be configured with additional parameters

zoned.zone_size=SIZE (default: 128MiB)
Define the zone size (ZSZE).
zoned.zone_capacity=SIZE (default: 0)
Define the zone capacity (ZCAP). If left at the default (0), the zone capacity will equal the zone size.
zoned.descr_ext_size=UINT32 (default: 0)
Set the Zone Descriptor Extension Size (ZDES). Must be a multiple of 64 bytes.
zoned.cross_read=BOOL (default: off)
Set to on to allow reads to cross zone boundaries.
zoned.max_active=UINT32 (default: 0)
Set the maximum number of active resources (MAR). The default (0) allows all zones to be active.
zoned.max_open=UINT32 (default: 0)
Set the maximum number of open resources (MOR). The default (0) allows all zones to be open. If zoned.max_active is specified, this value must be less than or equal to that.


The virtual namespace device supports LBA metadata in the form separate metadata (MPTR-based) and extended LBAs.

ms=UINT16 (default: 0)
Defines the number of metadata bytes per LBA.
mset=UINT8 (default: 0)
Set to 1 to enable extended LBAs.

End-to-End Data Protection

The virtual namespace device supports DIF- and DIX-based protection information (depending on mset).

pi=UINT8 (default: 0)
Enable protection information of the specified type (type 1, 2 or 3).
pil=UINT8 (default: 0)
Controls the location of the protection information within the metadata. Set to 1 to transfer protection information as the first eight bytes of metadata. Otherwise, the protection information is transferred as the last eight bytes.