Intel QuickAssist Technology (QAT) device plugin for Kubernetes

Table of Contents


This Intel QAT device plugin provides support for Intel QAT devices under Kubernetes. The supported devices are determined by the VF device drivers available in your Linux Kernel. See the Prerequisites section for more details.

Supported Devices include, but may not be limited to, the following:

The QAT device plugin provides access to QAT hardware accelerated cryptographic and compression features through the SR-IOV virtual functions (VF). Demonstrations are provided utilising DPDK and OpenSSL.

QAT Kubernetes resources show up as on systems before QAT Gen4 (4th Gen Xeon®) and[cy|dc] on QAT Gen4.

Modes and Configuration Options

The QAT plugin can take a number of command line arguments, summarised in the following table:

Flag Argument Meaning
-dpdk-driver string DPDK Device driver for configuring the QAT device (default: vfio-pci)
-kernel-vf-drivers string Comma separated list of the QuickAssist VFs to search and use in the system. Devices supported: DH895xCC, C62x, C3xxx, 4xxx/401xx/402xx, C4xxx and D15xx (default: c6xxvf,4xxxvf)
-max-num-devices int maximum number of QAT devices to be provided to the QuickAssist device plugin (default: 64)
-mode string Deprecated: plugin mode which can be either dpdk or kernel (default: dpdk).
-allocation-policy string 2 possible values: balanced and packed. Balanced mode spreads allocated QAT VF resources balanced among QAT PF devices, and packed mode packs one QAT PF device full of QAT VF resources before allocating resources from the next QAT PF. (There is no default.)

The plugin also accepts a number of other arguments related to logging. Please use the -h option to see the complete list of logging related options.

For more details on the -dpdk-driver choice, see DPDK Linux Driver Guide.

Note:: With Linux 5.9+ kernels the vfio-pci module must be loaded with disable_denylist=1 parameter for the QAT device plugin to work correctly with devices prior to Gen4 (4xxx).

For more details on the available options to the -kernel-vf-drivers option, see the list of vf drivers available in the Linux Kernel.

If the -mode parameter is set to kernel, no other parameter documented above are valid, except the klog logging related parameters. kernel mode implements resource allocation based on system configured logical instances and it does not guarantee full device isolation between containers. Therefore, it’s not recommended.

Note: -mode parameter is deprecated and it is also not made available as an option to the operator based deployment. Furthermore, kernel mode is excluded by default from all builds (including those hosted on the Docker hub), by default. See the Build the plugin image section for more details.


The below sections cover how to obtain, build and install this component.

The component can be installed either using a DaemonSet or running ‘by hand’ on each node.


The component has the same basic dependencies as the generic plugin framework dependencies.

You will also need appropriate hardware installed.

The QAT plugin requires Linux Kernel VF QAT drivers to be available. These drivers are available via two methods. One of them must be installed and enabled:

The demonstrations have their own requirements, listed in their own specific sections.

Pre-built Images

Pre-built images of this component are available on the Docker hub. These images are automatically built and uploaded to the hub from the latest main branch of this repository.

Release tagged images of the components are also available on the Docker hub, tagged with their release version numbers in the format x.y.z, corresponding to the branches and releases in this repository. Thus the easiest way to deploy the plugin in your cluster is to run this command

$ kubectl apply -k '<RELEASE_VERSION>'

Where <RELEASE_VERSION> needs to be substituted with the desired release tag or main to get devel images.

An alternative kustomization for deploying the plugin is with the debug mode switched on:

$ kubectl apply -k '<RELEASE_VERSION>'

Note: It is also possible to run the QAT device plugin using a non-root user. To do this, the nodes’ DAC rules must be configured to allow PCI driver unbinding/binding, device plugin socket creation and kubelet registration. Furthermore, the deployments securityContext must be configured with appropriate runAsUser/runAsGroup.

Automatic Provisioning

There’s a sample qat initcontainer. Regardless of device types, the script running inside the initcontainer enables QAT SR-IOV VFs.

To deploy, run as follows:

$ kubectl apply -k deployments/qat_plugin/overlays/qat_initcontainer/

In addition to the default configuration, you can add device-specific configurations via ConfigMap.

Device Possible Configuration How To Customize Options Notes
4xxx, 401xx,402xx cfg_services reports the configured services (crypto services or compression services) of the QAT device. ServicesEnabled=<value> compress:dc, crypto:sym;asym,
Linux 6.0+ kernel is required.

To create a provisioning configMap, run the following command before deploying initcontainer:

$ kubectl create configmap --namespace=inteldeviceplugins-system qat-config --from-file=/path/to/qat.conf


$ kubectl create configmap --namespace=inteldeviceplugins-system --from-literal "qat.conf=ServicesEnabled=<option>" qat-config

When using the operator for deploying the plugin with provisioning config, use provisioningConfig field for the name of the ConfigMap, then the config is passed to initcontainer through the volume mount.

There’s also a possibility for a node specific congfiguration through passing a nodename via NODE_NAME into initcontainer’s environment and passing a node specific profile (qat-$NODE_NAME.conf) via ConfigMap volume mount.

Existing DaemonSet annotations can be updated through CR annotations in deviceplugin_v1_qatdeviceplugin.yaml.

By default, the operator based deployment sets AppArmor policy to "unconfined" but this can be overridden by setting the AppArmor annotation to a new value in the CR annotations.

For non-operator plugin deployments such annotations can be dropped with the kustomization if required.

Verify Plugin Registration

Verification of the plugin deployment and detection of QAT hardware can be confirmed by examining the resource allocations on the nodes:

$ kubectl describe node <node name> | grep 10 10

Demos and Testing

The below sections cover DPDK and OpenSSL demos, both of which utilise the QAT device plugin under Kubernetes.

DPDK QAT demos

The Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) QAT demos use DPDK crypto-perf and compress-perf utilities to exercise DPDK QAT Poll-Mode Drivers (PMD). For more information on the tools’ parameters, refer to the website links.

DPDK Prerequisites

For the DPDK QAT demos to work, the DPDK drivers must be loaded and configured. For more information, refer to: DPDK Getting Started Guide for Linux and DPDK Getting Started Guide, Linux Drivers section

Deploy the pod

In the pod specification file, add container resource request and limit. For example, <number of devices> for a container requesting QAT devices.

For a DPDK-based workload, you may need to add hugepage request and limit.

$ kubectl apply -k
$ kubectl get pods
  NAME                     READY     STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
  qat-dpdk                 1/1       Running   0          27m
  intel-qat-plugin-5zgvb   1/1       Running   0          3h

Note: If the igb_uio VF driver is used with the QAT device plugin, the workload be deployed with SYS_ADMIN capabilities added.

Manual Test Run

Manually execute the dpdk-test-crypto-perf application to review the logs:

$ kubectl exec -it qat-dpdk bash

$ dpdk-test-crypto-perf -l 6-7 -w $QAT1 \
-d /usr/lib64/ \
-d /usr/lib64/ -- \
--ptest throughput --devtype crypto_qat \
--optype cipher-only --cipher-algo aes-cbc --cipher-op encrypt \
--cipher-key-sz 16 --total-ops 10000000 --burst-sz 32 --buffer-sz 64

Note: Adapt the .so versions to what the DPDK version in the container provides.

Automated Test Run

It is also possible to deploy and run crypto-perf using the following kustomize overlays:

$ kubectl apply -k
$ kubectl apply -k
$ kubectl logs qat-dpdk-test-crypto-perf-tc1
$ kubectl logs qat-dpdk-test-compress-perf-tc1

Note: for test-crypto1 and test-compress1 to work, the cluster must enable Kubernetes CPU manager’s static policy.

OpenSSL QAT Demo

Please refer to the Kata Containers documentation for details on the OpenSSL QAT acceleration demo.

Checking for Hardware

In order to utilise the QAT device plugin, QuickAssist SR-IOV virtual functions must be configured. You can verify this on your nodes by checking for the relevant PCI identifiers:

for i in 0442 0443 18a1 37c9 6f55 19e3 4941 4943; do lspci -d 8086:$i; done