This library is supported at alpha level; backward compatibility is not guaranteed.

DOCA DevEmu PCI is part of the DOCA Device Emulation subsystem. It provides low-level software APIs that allow management of an emulated PCIe device using the emulation capability of NVIDIA® BlueField® networking platforms.

It is a common layer for all PCIe emulation modules, such as DOCA DevEmu PCIe Generic Emulation, and DOCA DevEmu Virtio subsystem emulation.

This library follows the architecture of a DOCA Core Context. It is recommended read the following sections beforehand :

Generic device emulation is part of DOCA device emulation. It is recommended to read the following guides beforehand:

DOCA DevEmu PCI Emulation is supported only on the BlueField target. The BlueField must meet the following requirements

  • DOCA version 2.7.0 or greater

  • BlueField-3 firmware 32.41.1000 or higher


Please refer to the DOCA Backward Compatibility Policy.

The library must be run with root privileges.

Perform the following:

  1. Configure the BlueField to work in DPU mode as described in NVIDIA BlueField Modes of Operation.

  2. Enable the PCIe switch emulation capability needed for hot plugging emulated PCIe devices. This can be done by running the following command on the host or BlueField:


    host/bf> sudo mlxconfig -d /dev/mst/mt41692_pciconf0 s PCI_SWITCH_EMULATION_ENABLE=1

  3. Perform a BlueField system-level reset for the mlxconfig settings to take effect.

To support hot-plug feature, the host must have the following boot parameters:

  • Intel CPU:


    intel_iommu=on iommu=pt pci=realloc

  • AMD CPU:


    iommu=pt pci=realloc

This can be done using the following steps:


This process may vary depending on the host OS. Users can find multiple guides online describing this process.

  1. Add the boot parameters:


    host> sudo nano /etc/default/grub Find the variable GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="<existing-params>" Add the params at the end GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="<existing-params> intel_iommu=on iommu=pt pci=realloc"

  2. Update configuration.

    • For Ubuntu:


      host> update-grub

    • For RHEL:


      host> grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

  3. Perform warm boot.

  4. Confirm that the parameters are in effect:


    host> cat /proc/cmdline <existing-params> intel_iommu=on iommu=pt pci=realloc

The DOCA DevEmu PCI library provides 2 main software abstractions, the PCIe type, and the PCIe device. The PCIe type represents the configurations of the emulated device, while the PCIe device represents an instance of an emulated device. Furthermore, any PCIe device instance must be associated with a single PCIe type, while PCIe type can be associated with many PCIe devices.

Pre Defined PCI Type vs. Generic PCI Type

A PCIe type object can be acquired in 2 different ways:

In case of pre-defined type, the configurability of the type is limited.

PCIe Type Name

As part of the DOCA PCIe emulation, every type has a name assigned to it. This property is not part of the PCIe specification, but rather it is a mechanism in DOCA that uniquely identifies the PCIe type.

There cannot be 2 different PCIe types with the same name, even across different processes, unless the type in the second process is configured in identical manner to the first one. Furthermore, attempting to configure the second type with same name but with slight configuration difference will fail.

Create Emulated Device

After configuring the desired DOCA Devemu PCIe type, it is possible to create an emulated device based on the configured type using doca_devemu_pci_dev_create_rep. This sequential process ensures that the DOCA DevEmu PCIe device is created with the specified parameters and configuration defined by the PCIe type object. Furthermore, it is possible to destroy the emulated device using doca_devemu_pci_dev_destroy_rep.

The created device representor starts in "power_off" state and is not visible to the host until hot-plug sequence is issued by the user, see Hot-plug Emulated Device. The device can then be destroyed only while in "power_off" state.


The created emulated device may outlive the application that created it, see Objects Lifecycle and Persistency.

Hot-plug Emulated Device

Hot-plugging refers to the process of emulating the physical attachment of a PCIe device to the host PCIe subsystem after the system has been powered on and initialized. Note that some operating systems require additional settings to enable the process of hot-plugging a PCIe device. For supported systems, t his feature proves particularly advantageous for systems that need to remain operational at all times while expanding their hardware resources, such as additional storage and networking capabilities. DOCA DevEmu PCI provides software APIs that allow users to emulate this process in an asynchronous manner.


When creating a PCIe device object, if it starts in "power off" state, then the device is not yet visible to the host. It is possible then, from the BlueField, to hot-plug the device. This starts an async process of the device getting hot-plugged towards the host. Once the process completes, the emulated device transitions to "power on" and becomes visible to the host. Usually at this stage, the emulated device receives its BDF address. The hot-unplug process works in similar async manner.

Using DOCA API, the BlueField Arm can register to any changes to the hot-plug state of each emulated device using doca_devemu_pci_dev_event_hotplug_state_change_register.

Emulated Device Discovery

The emulated device is represented as a doca_devinfo_rep. It is possible to iterate through all the emulated devices as explained in DOCA Core Representor Discovery.

There are 2 ways of filtering the list of emulated devices:

  • Get all emulated devices – use DOCA_DEVINFO_REP_FILTER_EMULATED as the filter argument in doca_devinfo_rep_create_list

  • Get all emulated devices that belong to a certain type – doca_devemu_pci_type_create_rep_list

Objects Lifecycle and Persistency

This section creates distinction between firmware resources and software resources:

  • Firmware resources persist until the next power cycle, and can be accessible from different processes on the BlueField Arm. Such resources are not cleared once the application exits.

  • Software resources are representations of firmware resources, and are only relevant for the same thread

Using this terminology, it is possible to describe the objects as follows:

  • The PCIe type object doca_devemu_pci_type represents a PCIe type firmware resource. The resource persists if any of the following apply:

    • There is at least 1 process holding reference to the PCIe type

    • There is at least 1 PCIe device firmware resource belonging to this type

  • The emulated device representor, doca_devinfo_rep, represents an emulated PCIe function firmware resource:

    • doca_devemu_pci_dev_create_rep can be used to create such firmware resource

    • To destroy the firmware resource, doca_devemu_pci_dev_destroy_rep can be used

    • For static functions, the representor resource persists until configured otherwise in NVCONFIG

    • To find existing PCIe device firmware resources, use doca_devemu_pci_type_create_rep_list

Function Level Reset

The created emulated devices support PCIe function level reset (FLR).

Using DOCA API, the BlueField Arm can register to FLR event using doca_devemu_pci_dev_event_flr_register. Once the driver requests FLR, this event is triggered, calling the user provided callback.

Once FLR is detected, it is expected for the BlueField Arm to do the following:

  • Destroy all resources related to the PCIe device. For information on such resources, refer to the guide of concrete PCIe type (generic/virtiofs).

  • Stop the PCIe device

  • Start the PCIe device again

DOCA PCIe Device emulation requires a device to operate. For picking a device, see DOCA Core Device Discovery.

The device emulation library is only supported for BlueField-3.

As device capabilities may change in the future ( see Capability Checking ), it is recommended that users choose a device using the following method:

  • doca_devemu_pci_cap_type_is_hotplug_supported – for create and hot-plug support

  • doca_devemu_pci_cap_type_is_mgmt_supported – for device discovery only

Configuration Phase

To start using the DOCA DevEmu PCI Device, users must first go through a configuration phase as described in DOCA Core Context Configuration Phase.

This section describes how to configure and start the context to allow retrieval of events.


The context can be configured to match the application use case.

To find if a configuration is supported or what its min/max value is, refer to Device Support.

Mandatory Configurations

All mandatory configurations are provided during the creation of the PCIe device.

These configurations are as follows:

  • A DOCA DevEmu PCIe type object

  • A DOCA Device Representor, representing an emulated function that has same type as the provided PCIe type

  • A DOCA Progress Engine object

Optional Configurations

These configurations are optional. If not set, then a default value is used:

  • Registering to events as described in the "Events" section. By default, the user does not receive events.

Execution Phase

This section describes execution on CPU using DOCA Core Progress Engine.


DOCA DevEmu PCI device exposes asynchronous events to notify about sudden changes according to the DOCA Core architecture.

Common events are described in DOCA Core Event.

Hotplug State Change

The hotplug state change event allows users to receive notifications whenever the hotplug state of the emulated device changes. See section " Hot-plug Emulated Device".



API to Set the Configuration

API to Query Support

Register to the event



Trigger Condition

The event is triggered anytime an asynchronous transition happens as follows:




Any transition initiated by user is not triggered (e.g., calling hotplug to transition from POWER_OFF to PLUG_IN_PROGRESS).

The following APIs can be used to initiate hotplug or hot-unplug transition processes:

  • doca_devemu_pci_dev_hotplug

  • doca_devemu_pci_dev_hotunplug


Common output as described in DOCA Core Event.

Additionally, the internal cached hotplug state is updated and can be fetched using doca_devemu_pci_dev_get_hotplug_state .

Event Handling

Once the event is triggered, it means that the hotplug state has changed. The application is expected to do the following:

  • Retrieve the new hotplug state using doca_devemu_pci_dev_get_hotplug_state

Function Level Reset

The FLR event allows users to receive notifications whenever the host initiates an FLR flow. See section " Function Level Reset".



API to Set the Configuration

Register to the event


Trigger Condition

The event is triggered anytime the Host driver initiates an FLR flow. See section "Function Level Reset".


Common output as described in DOCA Core Event.

Additionally, the internal cached FLR indicator is updated and can be fetched using doca_devemu_pci_dev_is_flr .

Event Handling

Once the event is triggered, it means that the host driver has initiated the FLR flow.

The user must handle the FLR flow by doing the following:

  1. Flush all the outstanding requests back to the associated resource

  2. Release all the PCIe device resources dynamically created after device start

  3. Stop the PCIe device – doca_ctx_stop

  4. Start the PCIe device again – doca_ctx_start

    • Call doca_pe_progress repeatedly until the PCIe device transitions to "running" state

For more information on starting the PCIe device again, refer to section "State Machine".

State Machine

The DOCA DevEmu PCI device object follows the context state machine as described in DOCA Core Context State Machine.

The following section describes how to transition to any state and what is allowed in each state.


In this state, it is expected that application either:

  • Destroys the context

  • Starts the context

Allowed operations:

  • Configuring the context according to section "Configurations"

  • Starting the context

It is possible to reach this state as follows:

Previous State

Transition Action


Create the context


Call stop after making sure all resources have been destroyed


Call progress until all resources have been destroyed


In this state, it is expected that application:

  • Calls progress to allow transition to next state

  • Keeps context in this state until FLR flow is complete

It is possible to reach this state as follows:

Previous State

Transition Action


Call start after receiving FLR event (i.e., while FLR is in progress)


In this state, it is expected that application:

  • Calls progress to receive events

  • Creates/destroys PCIe device resources

It is possible to reach this state as follows:

Previous State

Transition Action


Call start after configuration


Call progress until FLR flow is completed


In this state, it is expected that application:

Allowed operations:

  • Destroying PCIe device resources

It is possible to reach this state as follows:

Previous State

Transition Action


Call stop without freeing emulated device resources

© Copyright 2024, NVIDIA. Last updated on May 7, 2024.