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Subject[PATCHv5 30/30] Documentation/x86: Document TDX kernel architecture
From: Kuppuswamy Sathyanarayanan <>

Document the TDX guest architecture details like #VE support,
shared memory, etc.

Signed-off-by: Kuppuswamy Sathyanarayanan <>
Signed-off-by: Kirill A. Shutemov <>
Documentation/x86/index.rst | 1 +
Documentation/x86/tdx.rst | 214 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
2 files changed, 215 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/x86/tdx.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/x86/index.rst b/Documentation/x86/index.rst
index f498f1d36cd3..382e53ca850a 100644
--- a/Documentation/x86/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/x86/index.rst
@@ -24,6 +24,7 @@ x86-specific Documentation
+ tdx
diff --git a/Documentation/x86/tdx.rst b/Documentation/x86/tdx.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..8ca60256511b
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/x86/tdx.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,214 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
+Intel Trust Domain Extensions (TDX)
+Intel's Trust Domain Extensions (TDX) protect confidential guest VMs from
+the host and physical attacks by isolating the guest register state and by
+encrypting the guest memory. In TDX, a special TDX module sits between the
+host and the guest, and runs in a special mode and manages the guest/host
+Since the host cannot directly access guest registers or memory, much
+normal functionality of a hypervisor must be moved into the guest. This is
+implemented using a Virtualization Exception (#VE) that is handled by the
+guest kernel. Some #VEs are handled entirely inside the guest kernel, but
+some require the hypervisor to be involved.
+TDX includes new hypercall-like mechanisms for communicating from the
+guest to the hypervisor or the TDX module.
+New TDX Exceptions
+TDX guests behave differently from bare-metal and traditional VMX guests.
+In TDX guests, otherwise normal instructions or memory accesses can cause
+#VE or #GP exceptions.
+Instructions marked with an '*' conditionally cause exceptions. The
+details for these instructions are discussed below.
+Instruction-based #VE
+- Port I/O (INS, OUTS, IN, OUT)
+- HLT
+Instruction-based #GP
+- RSM
+MSR access behavior falls into three categories:
+- #GP generated
+- #VE generated
+- "Just works"
+In general, the #GP MSRs should not be used in guests. Their use likely
+indicates a bug in the guest. The guest may try to handle the #GP with a
+hypercall but it is unlikely to succeed.
+The #VE MSRs are typically able to be handled by the hypervisor. Guests
+can make a hypercall to the hypervisor to handle the #VE.
+The "just works" MSRs do not need any special guest handling. They might
+be implemented by directly passing through the MSR to the hardware or by
+trapping and handling in the TDX module. Other than possibly being slow,
+these MSRs appear to function just as they would on bare metal.
+CPUID Behavior
+For some CPUID leaves and sub-leaves, the virtualized bit fields of CPUID
+return values (in guest EAX/EBX/ECX/EDX) are configurable by the
+hypervisor. For such cases, the Intel TDX module architecture defines two
+virtualization types:
+- Bit fields for which the hypervisor configures the value seen by the
+ guest TD.
+- Bit fields for which the hypervisor configures the value such that the
+ guest TD either sees their native value or a value of 0
+#VE generated for CPUID leaves and sub-leaves that TDX module doesn't know
+how to handle. The guest kernel may ask the hypervisor for the value with
+a hypercall.
+#VE on Memory Accesses
+There are essentially two classes of TDX memory: private and shared.
+Private memory receives full TDX protections. Its content is protected
+against access from the hypervisor. Shared memory is expected to be
+shared between guest and hypervisor.
+A TD guest is in control of whether its memory accesses are treated as
+private or shared. It selects the behavior with a bit in its page table
+entries. This helps ensure that a guest does not place sensitive
+information in shared memory, exposing it to the untrusted hypervisor.
+#VE on Shared Memory
+Access to shared mappings can cause a #VE. The hypervisor ultimately
+controls whether a shared memory access causes a #VE, so the guest must be
+careful to only reference shared pages it can safely handle a #VE. For
+instance, the guest should be careful not to access shared memory in the
+#VE handler before it reads the #VE info structure (TDG.VP.VEINFO.GET).
+Shared mapping content is entirely controlled by the hypervisor. Shared
+mappings must never be used for sensitive memory content like stacks or
+kernel text, only for I/O buffers and MMIO regions. A good rule of thumb
+is that hypervisor-shared memory should be treated the same as memory
+mapped to userspace. Both the hypervisor and userspace are completely
+MMIO for virtual devices is implemented as shared memory. The guest must
+be careful not to access device MMIO regions unless it is also prepared to
+handle a #VE.
+#VE on Private Pages
+Accesses to private mappings can also cause #VEs. Since all kernel memory
+is also private memory, the kernel might theoretically need to handle a
+#VE on arbitrary kernel memory accesses. This is not feasible, so TDX
+guests ensure that all guest memory has been "accepted" before memory is
+used by the kernel.
+A modest amount of memory (typically 512M) is pre-accepted by the firmware
+before the kernel runs to ensure that the kernel can start up without
+being subjected to #VE's.
+The hypervisor is permitted to unilaterally move accepted pages to a
+"blocked" state. However, if it does this, page access will not generate a
+#VE. It will, instead, cause a "TD Exit" where the hypervisor is required
+to handle the exception.
+Linux #VE handler
+Just like page faults or #GP's, #VE exceptions can be either handled or be
+fatal. Typically, unhandled userspace #VE's result in a SIGSEGV.
+Unhandled kernel #VE's result in an oops.
+Handling nested exceptions on x86 is typically nasty business. A #VE
+could be interrupted by an NMI which triggers another #VE and hilarity
+ensues. TDX #VE's have a novel solution to make it slightly less nasty.
+During #VE handling, the TDX module ensures that all interrupts (including
+NMIs) are blocked. The block remains in place until the guest makes a
+TDG.VP.VEINFO.GET TDCALL. This allows the guest to choose when interrupts
+or new #VE's can be delivered.
+However, the guest kernel must still be careful to avoid potential
+#VE-triggering actions (discussed above) while this block is in place.
+While the block is in place, #VE's are elevated to double faults (#DF)
+which are not recoverable.
+MMIO handling
+In non-TDX VMs, MMIO is usually implemented by giving a guest access to
+a mapping which will cause a VMEXIT on access, and then the hypervisor emulates
+the access. That is not possible in TDX guests because VMEXIT will expose the
+register state to the host. TDX guests don't trust the host and can't have
+their state exposed to the host.
+In TDX, the MMIO regions typically trigger a #VE exception in the guest.
+The guest #VE handler then emulates the MMIO instruction inside the guest
+and converts it into a controlled TDCALL to the host, rather than exposing
+guest state to the host.
+MMIO addresses on x86 are just special physical addresses. They can
+theoretically be accessed with any instruction that accesses memory.
+However, the kernel instruction decoding method is limited. It is only
+designed to decode instructions like those generated by io.h macros.
+MMIO access via other means (like structure overlays) may result in an
+Shared Memory Conversions
+All TDX guest memory starts out as private at boot. This memory can not
+be accessed by the hypervisor. However some kernel users like device
+drivers might have a need to share data with the hypervisor. To do this,
+memory must be converted between shared and private. This can be
+accomplished using some existing memory encryption helpers:
+set_memory_decrypted() converts a range of pages to shared.
+set_memory_encrypted() converts memory back to private.
+Device drivers are the primary user of shared memory, but there's no need
+to touch every driver. DMA buffers and ioremap()'ed do the conversions
+TDX uses SWIOTLB for most DMA allocations. The SWIOTLB buffer is
+converted to shared on boot.
+For coherent DMA allocation, the DMA buffer gets converted on the
+allocation. Check force_dma_unencrypted() for details.
+TDX reference material is collected here:
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