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ndctl-create-namespace - Man Page

provision or reconfigure a namespace


ndctl create-namespace [<options>]

Theory of Operation

The capacity of an NVDIMM REGION (contiguous span of persistent memory) is accessed via one or more NAMESPACE devices. REGION is the Linux term for what ACPI and UEFI call a DIMM-interleave-set, or a system-physical-address-range that is striped (by the memory controller) across one or more memory modules.

The UEFI specification defines the NVDIMM Label Protocol as the combination of label area access methods and a data format for provisioning one or more NAMESPACE objects from a REGION. Note that label support is optional and if Linux does not detect the label capability it will automatically instantiate a "label-less" namespace per region. Examples of label-less namespaces are the ones created by the kernel’s memmap=ss!nn command line option (see the nvdimm wiki on kernel.org), or NVDIMMs without a valid namespace index in their label area.


Label-less namespaces lack many of the features of their label-rich cousins. For example, their size cannot be modified, or they cannot be fully destroyed (i.e. the space reclaimed). A destroy operation will zero any mode-specific metadata. Finally, for create-namespace operations on label-less namespaces, ndctl bypasses the region capacity availability checks, and always satisfies the request using the full region capacity. The only reconfiguration operation supported on a label-less namespace is changing its mode.

A namespace can be provisioned to operate in one of 4 modes, fsdax, devdax, sector, and raw. Here are the expected usage models for these modes:


Create a maximally sized pmem namespace in fsdax mode (the default)

ndctl create-namespace

Convert namespace0.0 to sector mode

ndctl create-namespace -f -e namespace0.0 --mode=sector


-m,  --mode=
  • "raw": expose the namespace capacity directly with limitations. A raw pmem namepace namespace does not support sector atomicity (see "sector" mode below). A raw pmem namespace may have limited to no dax support depending the kernel. In other words operations like direct-I/O targeting a dax buffer may fail for a pmem namespace in raw mode or indirect through a page-cache buffer. See "fsdax" and "devdax" mode for dax operation.
  • "sector": persistent memory, given that it is byte addressable, does not support sector atomicity. The problematic aspect of sector tearing is that most applications do not know they have a atomic sector update dependency. At least a disk rarely ever tears sectors and if it does it almost certainly returns a checksum error on access. Persistent memory devices will always tear and always silently. Until an application is audited to be robust in the presence of sector-tearing "safe" mode is recommended. This imposes some performance overhead and disables the dax capability. (also known as "safe" or "btt" mode)
  • "fsdax": A pmem namespace in this mode supports dax operation with a block-device based filesystem (in previous ndctl releases this mode was named "memory" mode). This mode comes at the cost of allocating per-page metadata. The capacity can be allocated from "System RAM", or from a reserved portion of "Persistent Memory" (see the --map= option). NOTE: A filesystem that supports DAX is required for dax operation. If the raw block device (/dev/pmemX) is used directly without a filesystem, it will use the page cache. See "devdax" mode for raw device access that supports dax.
  • "devdax": The device-dax character device interface is a statically allocated / raw access analogue of filesystem-dax (in previous ndctl releases this mode was named "dax" mode). It allows memory ranges to be mapped without need of an intervening filesystem. The device-dax is interface strict, precise and predictable. Specifically the interface:

    • Guarantees fault granularity with respect to a given page size (4K, 2M, or 1G on x86) set at configuration time.
    • Enforces deterministic behavior by being strict about what fault scenarios are supported. I.e. if a device is configured with a 2M alignment an attempt to fault a 4K aligned offset will result in SIGBUS. :: Note both fsdax and devdax mode require 16MiB physical alignment to be cross-arch compatible. By default ndctl will block attempts to create namespaces in these modes when the physical starting address of the namespace is not 16MiB aligned. The --force option tries to override this constraint if the platform supports a smaller alignment, but this is not recommended.
-s,  --size=

For NVDIMM devices that support namespace labels, set the namespace size in bytes. Otherwise it defaults to the maximum size specified by platform firmware. This option supports the suffixes "k" or "K" for KiB, "m" or "M" for MiB, "g" or "G" for GiB and "t" or "T" for TiB.

For pmem namepsaces the size must be a multiple of the
interleave-width and the namespace alignment (see
-a,  --align

Applications that want to establish dax memory mappings with page table entries greater than system base page size (4K on x86) need a persistent memory namespace that is sufficiently aligned. For "fsdax" and "devdax" mode this defaults to 2M. Note that "devdax" mode enforces all mappings to be aligned to this value, i.e. it fails unaligned mapping attempts. The "fsdax" alignment setting determines the starting alignment of filesystem extents and may limit the possible granularities, if a large mapping is not possible it will silently fall back to a smaller page size.

-e,  --reconfig=

Reconfigure an existing namespace. This option is a shortcut for the following sequence:

  • Read all parameters from @victim_namespace
  • Destroy @victim_namespace
  • Create @new_namespace merging old parameters with new ones :: Note that the major implication of a destroy-create cycle is that data from @victim_namespace is not preserved in @new_namespace. The attributes transferred from @victim_namespace are the geometry, mode, and name (not uuid without --uuid=). No attempt is made to preserve the data and any old data that is visible in @new_namespace is by coincidence not convention. "Backup and restore" is the only reliable method to populate @new_namespace with data from @victim_namespace.
-u,  --uuid=

This option is not recommended as a new uuid should be generated every time a namespace is (re-)created. For recovery scenarios however the uuid may be specified.

-n,  --name=

For NVDIMM devices that support namespace labels, specify a human friendly name for a namespace. This name is available as a device attribute for use in udev rules.

-l,  --sector-size

Specify the logical sector size (LBA size) of the Linux block device associated with an namespace.

-M,  --map=

A pmem namespace in "fsdax" or "devdax" mode requires allocation of per-page metadata. The allocation can be drawn from either:

  • "mem": typical system memory
  • "dev": persistent memory reserved from the namespace :: Given relative capacities of "Persistent Memory" to "System RAM" the allocation defaults to reserving space out of the namespace directly ("--map=dev"). The overhead is 64-bytes per 4K (16GB per 1TB) on x86.
-c,  --continue

Do not stop after creating one namespace. Instead, greedily create as many namespaces as possible within the given --bus and --region filter restrictions. This will abort if any creation attempt results in an error unless --force is also supplied.

-f,  --force

Unless this option is specified the reconfigure namespace operation will fail if the namespace is presently active. Specifying --force causes the namespace to be disabled before the operation is attempted. However, if the namespace is mounted then the disable namespace and reconfigure namespace operations will be aborted. The namespace must be unmounted before being reconfigured. When used in conjunction with --continue, continue the namespace creation loop even if an error is encountered for intermediate namespaces.

-L,  --autolabel,  --no-autolabel

Legacy NVDIMM devices do not support namespace labels. In that case the kernel creates region-sized namespaces that can not be deleted. Their mode can be changed, but they can not be resized smaller than their parent region. This is termed a "label-less namespace". In contrast, NVDIMMs and hypervisors that support the ACPI 6.2 label area definition (ACPI 6.2 Section 6.5.10 NVDIMM Label Methods) support "labelled namespace" operation.

  • There are two cases where the kernel will default to label-less operation:

    • NVDIMM does not support labels
    • The NVDIMM supports labels, but the Label Index Block (see UEFI 2.7) is not present.
  • In the latter case the configuration can be upgraded to labelled operation by writing an index block on all DIMMs in a region and re-enabling that region. The autolabel capability of ndctl create-namespace --reconfig tries to do this by default if it can determine that all DIMM capacity is referenced by the namespace being reconfigured. It will otherwise fail to autolabel and remain in label-less mode if it finds a DIMM contributes capacity to more than one region. This check prevents inadvertent data loss of that other region is in active use. The --autolabel option is implied by default, the --no-autolabel option can be used to disable this behavior. When automatic labeling fails and labelled operation is still desired the safety policy can be bypassed by the following commands, note that all data on all regions is forfeited by running these commands:

    ndctl disable-region all
    ndctl init-labels all
    ndctl enable-region all
-R,  --autorecover,  --no-autorecover

By default, if a namespace creation attempt fails, ndctl will cleanup the partially initialized namespace. Use --no-autorecover to disable this behavior for debug and development scenarios where it useful to have the label and info-block state preserved after a failure.

-v,  --verbose

Emit debug messages for the namespace creation process

-r,  --region=

A regionX device name, or a region id number. Restrict the operation to the specified region(s). The keyword all can be specified to indicate the lack of any restriction, however this is the same as not supplying a --region option at all.

-b,  --bus=

A bus id number, or a provider string (e.g. "ACPI.NFIT"). Restrict the operation to the specified bus(es). The keyword all can be specified to indicate the lack of any restriction, however this is the same as not supplying a --bus option at all.

See Also

linkndctl:ndctl-zero-labels[1], linkndctl:ndctl-init-labels[1], linkndctl:ndctl-disable-namespace[1], linkndctl:ndctl-enable-namespace[1], UEFI NVDIMM Label Protocol[1] Linux Persistent Memory Wiki[2]


  1. UEFI NVDIMM Label Protocol
  2. Linux Persistent Memory Wiki

Referenced By