Hypervisor Development in Rust Part 1

Posted on Feb 18, 2023

Intel VT-x Hypervisor Development in Rust

This article will cover the development of a minimalistic Intel VT-x research hypervisor in Rust. We will use the x86 crate and documentation, which help simplify the code.

Credit and acknowledgments are given to the following individuals and their respective blogs or repositories for their invaluable contributions and references: @daax_rynd, @Intel80x86, @not_matthias, and @standa_t.

The inspiration for this occurred shortly after the release of @not_matthias’s AMD SVM hypervisor in Rust, as well as the amazing articles by Secret Club and the discovery of a much older release of DarthTon’s HyperBone (based on the legendary Alex Ionescu’s version) on UnknownCheats.

Furthermore, in my pursuit of knowledge and expertise, I have been preparing for the legendary Satoshi Tanda’s Hypervisor Development for Security Researchers training, which has further fueled my passion to start my journey in hypervisor development.

Additionally, I have gained valuable knowledge from the exploration of BluePill by @_xeroxz (IDontCode) and various blog posts, such as AMD-V Hypervisor Development and Voyager - A Hyper-V Hacking Framework. The talented individuals at Back Engineering Labs have provided a wealth of information. All of these contributions have served as a valuable reference, expanding my understanding and inspiring me to dive deeper into this field.

Virtual Machine Architecture

Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM): A VMM serves as a host and has complete command over the platform’s processor(s) and other hardware. A VMM enables guest software to run directly on a logical processor by providing it with an abstraction of a virtual processor. A VMM can maintain granular control over I/O, interrupt handling, physical memory, and processor resources.

Guest Software: Any software that runs inside a virtual machine (VM) controlled by a virtual machine monitor (VMM) or hypervisor is referred to as guest software. Each virtual machine (VM) supports an operating system (OS) stack and application software as a guest software environment. Each virtual machine runs independently of the others and has a standard interface with the physical platform’s processor(s), memory, storage, graphics, and I/O. The software stack performs as though it were on a platform without a VMM. So that the VMM may continue to have control over platform resources, software running in virtual machines must have fewer privileges.

Introduction to Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) Operation

An operation that the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) does to enter or depart a virtual machine execution mode is referred to as a VMX operation. The host system’s standard operating mode and the virtualized operating mode of the guest system executing within the VM are switched via the VMX procedure. The virtualization technology in the processor supports the low-level VMX operation, which enables the VMM to construct and manage virtual machines.

Life Cycle of Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) Software

The Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) can enter and leave the execution mode of virtual machines (VMs) using low-level hardware operations called VM ENTRY and VM EXIT. Other low-level hardware operations, such as VMXON and VMXOFF, enable and disable the VMX operation, the processor’s implementation of hardware virtualization that supports VMMs, respectively. In essence, VMXON and VMXOFF allow the VMM to construct and operate virtual machines, whereas VM ENTRY and VM EXIT enable the VMM to move between the host system and the guest system.


Credits: Intel® 64 and IA-32 Architectures Software Developer Manual

Virtual-Machine Control Structure (VMCS)

A virtual machine’s execution is managed and controlled by the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) via a virtual machine control structure (VMCS). The virtual machine’s state, the settings for the virtual processor, and the mapping between the virtual and physical resources are all contained in the VMCS.

The VMM employs a collection of low-level instructions to control the VMCS. The Virtual-Machine Control Structure Pointer (VMCS pointer), which enables the VMM to access the VMCS for a particular VM, can be read using VMPTRST and loaded using VMPTRLD. The VMM can alter the virtual machine’s state or obtain details regarding its present state by using the commands VMREAD and VMWRITE, which are used to read and write values from and to the VMCS, respectively. When a virtual machine is terminated, or its state needs to be reset, VMCLEAR is used to clear the contents of the VMCS.

Each of the VMCSs assigned to a physical computer’s logical processors corresponds to a particular virtual machine. As a result, the VMM can oversee and administer numerous virtual machines on a single physical device. In order to generate, monitor, and manage the execution of virtual machines on logical processors, the VMCS and related instructions give the VMM essential control and management capabilities.

Discovering Support for Virtual Machine Extension (VMX)

When developing a hypervisor, it’s crucial to determine whether Intel or AMD built the CPU because each manufacturer has a unique virtualization technology with unique capabilities and instructions. It is vital to identify the processor type and employ the proper approaches to use these technologies and guarantee that the hypervisor functions on various systems.

The CPUID instruction can be used to determine whether Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) / Intel Virtualization Technology is supported. The processor will reveal information about its features, including whether it supports VMX, when the CPUID instruction is run with the EAX register set to 1. The EAX, EBX, ECX, and EDX registers store the CPUID data for the processor. If VMX is supported by the processor, bit 5 of ECX will be set to 1. The processor does not support VMX if the bit is not set, making virtualization unavailable.

We check whether Intel makes the CPU by examining the CPUID information using the Rust x86 crate. Specifically, we check the vendor information returned by the CPUID instruction to see if it equals "GenuineIntel". If the vendor information indicates an Intel CPU, we return an Ok result; otherwise, we return an error indicating that the hypervisor does not support the CPU.

/// Check to see if CPU is Intel (“GenuineIntel”).
pub fn has_intel_cpu() -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    let cpuid = CpuId::new();
    if let Some(vi) = cpuid.get_vendor_info() {
        if vi.as_str() == "GenuineIntel" {
            return Ok(());

We check whether the processor supports Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) technology by checking if the bit 5 in the ECX register is set to 1 using the CPUID instruction. We use the Rust x86 crate to get the CPUID information and check whether the processor has VMX support by reading the feature information. If the processor supports VMX, we return an Ok result; otherwise, we return an error indicating that VMX is not supported.

/// Check processor supports for Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) technology - CPUID.1:ECX.VMX[bit 5] = 1 (Intel Manual: 24.6 Discovering Support for VMX)
pub fn has_vmx_support() -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    let cpuid = CpuId::new();
    if let Some(fi) = cpuid.get_feature_info() {
        if fi.has_vmx() {
            return Ok(());

We use a custom HypervisorError enum to handle errors, which was made using thiserror-no-std crate.

use thiserror_no_std::Error;

#[derive(Error, Debug)]
pub enum HypervisorError {
    #[error("Intel CPU not found")]
    #[error("VMX is not supported")]
    #[error("VMX locked off in BIOS")]
    #[error("Failed allocate memory via PhysicalAllocator")]
    MemoryAllocationFailed(#[from] core::alloc::AllocError),
    #[error("Failed to convert from virtual address to physical address")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMXON")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMXOFF")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMCLEAR")]

    #[error("Failed to execute VMPTRLD")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMREAD")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMWRITE")]
    #[error("Failed to execute VMLAUNCH")]

    #[error("Failed to execute VMRESUME")]
    #[error("Failed to switch processor")]
    #[error("Failed to access VCPU table")]

Enabling and Entering Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) Operation

The CPU must operate in a hardware virtualization mode to execute virtual machines, made possible by Virtual Machine Extensions (VMX). System software initially sets the CR4.VMXE\[bit 13\] to 1 to enable VMX. This bit is found in the control register CR4, which regulates the processor’s multiple operating modes. The system software can execute the VMXON instruction to enter VMX operating mode once the VMX bit has been set.

Yet when VMXON is attempted to be executed with CR4.VMXE = 0, an invalid-opcode exception (#UD) is raised. Because VMX is not enabled, the CPU does not recognize the VMXON instruction, which leads to this exception. After the processor switches to VMX operation mode, the CR4.VMXE bit cannot be cleared. Because of this, system software must exit VMX operating mode with the VMXOFF instruction before CR4.VMXE may be cleared.

We have a function called enable_vmx_operation() that enables virtual machine extensions (VMX). We do this by setting a specific bit (bit 13) in the CR4 control register to 1. We first read the current value of CR4 using the controlregs::cr4() function, then set the appropriate bit using the set() method of the Cr4 struct, and finally, write the updated value back to CR4 using the controlregs::cr4_write() function.

In addition to setting the CR4 bit, we call the set_lock_bit() function, which sets a lock bit via the IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL register and logs a message indicating that the lock bit has been set. If everything goes well, we return a Result with an Ok value indicating success. If an error occurs, we return a Result with an Err value containing a HypervisorError.

/// Enables Virtual Machine Extensions - CR4.VMXE[bit 13] = 1 (Intel Manual: 24.7 Enabling and Entering VMX Operation)
pub fn enable_vmx_operation() -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    let mut cr4 = unsafe { controlregs::cr4() };
    cr4.set(controlregs::Cr4::CR4_ENABLE_VMX, true);
    unsafe { controlregs::cr4_write(cr4) };

    log::info!("[+] Lock bit set via IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL");


The IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL MSR is a model-specific register that controls the processor’s features, including VMX capability. This register is zeroed when a logical processor is reset. Bits 0 through 1 and 2 are crucial for VMXON. Whether it can be updated depends on the lock bit in the MSR. If the lock bit is not set, VMXON execution will fail, and the MSR cannot be modified until after a power-up reset. The lock bit, bit 1, bit 2, or both can be changed in the BIOS to deactivate VMX capability.

  • Bit 1 activates VMXON in SMX mode, providing a more secure setting. If this bit is not set, VMXON execution in SMX mode will encounter an error.
  • Bit 2 permits VMXON execution while SMX mode is not active. A general protection exception is triggered when this bit is attempted to be set on logical processors that cannot support VMX operation.

The IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL MSR and control bits in CR4 need to be set in order to activate VMX. The lock bit, bit 1, and bit 2 enable VMX. Once enabled, processors can enter the VMX operating mode and operate virtual machines using VMX instructions.

We first check the current value of the IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL MSR register to see if the lock bit is already set. If it’s not set, then we set the lock bit along with the VMXON_OUTSIDE_SMX bit and write the new value to the IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL MSR register. If the lock bit is already set, but the VMXON_OUTSIDE_SMX bit is not set, we then return an error indicating that the BIOS has locked the VMX feature.

/// Check if we need to set bits in IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL (Intel Manual: 24.7 Enabling and Entering VMX Operation)
fn set_lock_bit() -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    const VMX_LOCK_BIT: u64 = 1 << 0;
    const VMXON_OUTSIDE_SMX: u64 = 1 << 2;

    let ia32_feature_control = unsafe { rdmsr(msr::IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL) };

    if (ia32_feature_control & VMX_LOCK_BIT) == 0 {
        unsafe {
                VMXON_OUTSIDE_SMX | VMX_LOCK_BIT | ia32_feature_control,
    } else if (ia32_feature_control & VMXON_OUTSIDE_SMX) == 0 {
        return Err(HypervisorError::VMXBIOSLock);


Restrictions on VMX Operation (Adjusting Control Registers)

In order to ensure that Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) Operation work as intended, specific bits in the Control Registers (CR0 and CR4) must be set or cleared to particular values. The VMX operation will fail if any of these bits have an unsupported value when the system is in virtualization mode. A general protection exception will be thrown if one of these bits is ever attempted to be set to an unsupported value while the VMX operation is in progress. Software should consult the VMX capability MSRs IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED0, IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED1, IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED0, and IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED1 to find out which bits in the CR0 and CR4 registers are fixed and how they should be set.

We have implemented functions that adjust the CR0 and CR4 control registers for virtualization. These functions aim to ensure that the mandatory bits in the Control Registers are set and cleared appropriately to support virtualization. To achieve this, we have defined two functions: set_cr0_bits() and set_cr4_bits(). The former sets the mandatory bits in CR0 while clearing the mandatory zero bits, while the latter does the same for CR4.

To adjust CR0 and CR4, we read the values stored in the IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED0, IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED1, IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED0, and IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED1 Model-Specific Registers (MSRs) to determine which bits should be set and cleared. We then use the from_bits_truncate() function to ensure that the bit values fit within the Cr0 and Cr4 types, set the mandatory bits using the or bitwise operator, and clear the mandatory zero bits using the and bitwise operator. Finally, we write the resulting value back to the CR0 or CR4 register using the cr0_write() or cr4_write() functions.

We have also defined a higher-level function adjust_control_registers() that calls both set_cr0_bits() and set_cr4_bits(). This function sets and clears the mandatory bits in both CR0 and CR4 and logs a message indicating that the bits have been set/cleared.

/// Adjust set and clear the mandatory bits in CR0 and CR4
pub fn adjust_control_registers() {
    log::info!("[+] Mandatory bits in CR0 set/cleared");

    log::info!("[+] Mandatory bits in CR4 set/cleared");

/// Set the mandatory bits in CR0 and clear bits that are mandatory zero (Intel Manual: 24.8 Restrictions on VMX Operation)
fn set_cr0_bits() {
    let ia32_vmx_cr0_fixed0 = unsafe { msr::rdmsr(msr::IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED0) };
    let ia32_vmx_cr0_fixed1 = unsafe { msr::rdmsr(msr::IA32_VMX_CR0_FIXED1) };

    let mut cr0 = unsafe { controlregs::cr0() };

    cr0 |= controlregs::Cr0::from_bits_truncate(ia32_vmx_cr0_fixed0 as usize);
    cr0 &= controlregs::Cr0::from_bits_truncate(ia32_vmx_cr0_fixed1 as usize);

    unsafe { controlregs::cr0_write(cr0) };

/// Set the mandatory bits in CR4 and clear bits that are mandatory zero (Intel Manual: 24.8 Restrictions on VMX Operation)
fn set_cr4_bits() {
    let ia32_vmx_cr4_fixed0 = unsafe { msr::rdmsr(msr::IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED0) };
    let ia32_vmx_cr4_fixed1 = unsafe { msr::rdmsr(msr::IA32_VMX_CR4_FIXED1) };

    let mut cr4 = unsafe { controlregs::cr4() };

    cr4 |= controlregs::Cr4::from_bits_truncate(ia32_vmx_cr4_fixed0 as usize);
    cr4 &= controlregs::Cr4::from_bits_truncate(ia32_vmx_cr4_fixed1 as usize);

    unsafe { controlregs::cr4_write(cr4) };

VMXON Region

Software must allocate a memory region called the VMXON Region, which will be used by the logical processor for VMX operation, before allowing virtual machine extensions (VMX) activity. The operand for the VMXON instruction is the physical address of this area.

The VMXON pointer must adhere to certain specifications, such as being 4-KByte aligned and not exceeding the processor’s physical address width. Software must use a different region for each logical processor and write the VMCS revision identification (VMCS ID) to the VMXON region before VMXON is executed. Unpredictable behaviour may emerge from accessing or altering the VMXON region of a logical processor between the execution of VMXON and VMXOFF.

Fortunately for us, @not-matthias already has a kernel-alloc crate in Rust ready for community use.

The PhysicalAllocator is a custom allocator that allocates physical memory in Windows kernel mode. When you allocate memory using this allocator, it calls the MmAllocateContiguousMemorySpecifyCacheNode function to allocate contiguous physical memory. If the allocation is successful, it returns a pointer to the allocated memory. If it fails, it returns an AllocError. When you deallocate memory using this allocator, it calls the MmFreeContiguousMemory function to free the memory that was previously allocated. This allocator can be used with Rust’s GlobalAlloc trait to provide a custom global allocator for Rust’s heap-allocated data types like String, Vec, and Box.

If you want to find out more about it, please refer to the alloc::GlobalAllocator or alloc::Allocator and the Rust book for global_allocator or allocator_api.

/// The physical kernel allocator structure.
pub struct PhysicalAllocator;

unsafe impl Allocator for PhysicalAllocator {
    fn allocate(&self, layout: Layout) -> Result<NonNull<[u8]>, AllocError> {
        let mut boundary: PHYSICAL_ADDRESS = unsafe { core::mem::zeroed() };
        let mut lowest: PHYSICAL_ADDRESS = unsafe { core::mem::zeroed() };
        let mut highest: PHYSICAL_ADDRESS = unsafe { core::mem::zeroed() };

        unsafe { *(boundary.QuadPart_mut()) = 0 };
        unsafe { *(lowest.QuadPart_mut()) = 0 };
        unsafe { *(highest.QuadPart_mut()) = -1 };

        let memory = unsafe {
        } as *mut u8;
        if memory.is_null() {
        } else {
            let slice = unsafe { core::slice::from_raw_parts_mut(memory, layout.size()) };
            Ok(unsafe { NonNull::new_unchecked(slice) })

    unsafe fn deallocate(&self, ptr: NonNull<u8>, _layout: Layout) {

We are defining a struct called VmxonRegion, which represents a VMXON Region in memory. This region must be aligned to the page size of 4096 bytes (or 0x1000 in hexadecimal). The VmxonRegion structure contains two fields: revision_id and data. The revision_id is a 32-bit unsigned integer representing the version of the VMX capabilities supported by the processor, and it takes up 4 bytes of the memory region. The data field is an array of 4092 bytes that contains the rest of the VMXON Region. By using the repr(C, align(4096)) attribute, we ensure that the VmxonRegion type is laid out exactly as specified, with 4096 bytes of memory allocated for each instance of this type. This ensures that the VMXON Region is aligned correctly in memory and can be used by the processor without any issues.

pub const PAGE_SIZE: usize = 0x1000;

#[repr(C, align(4096))]
pub struct VmxonRegion {
    pub revision_id: u32,
    pub data: [u8; PAGE_SIZE - 4],

We define a function get_vmcs_revision_id that returns the Virtual Machine Control Structure (VMCS) revision ID. To get this revision ID, we read a Model Specific Register (MSR) using the rdmsr function, passing it the MSR identifier IA32_VMX_BASIC. We cast the returned value to a 32-bit unsigned integer and then bitwise AND it with 0x7FFF_FFFF to clear the high bit, which is reserved. The resulting value is the VMCS revision ID, which we return.

/// Get the Virtual Machine Control Structure revision identifier (VMCS revision ID) (Intel Manual: 25.11.5 VMXON Region)
pub fn get_vmcs_revision_id() -> u32 {
    unsafe { (msr::rdmsr(msr::IA32_VMX_BASIC) as u32) & 0x7FFF_FFFF }

To convert a virtual address to a physical address, we can use the MmGetVirtualForPhysical undocumented function. Luckily for us we can reuse the code written by @not-matthias in this amd_hypervisor since there is no crate for it currently.

We have two functions here. The first function, physical_address takes a pointer to a u64 and converts it to a physical address of type PAddr. This function is used to convert virtual addresses to physical addresses. The second function va_from_pa takes a physical address and converts it to a virtual address. This is achieved using the Windows kernel undocumented function MmGetVirtualForPhysical.

pub fn physical_address(ptr: *const u64) -> PAddr {
    PhysicalAddress::from_va(ptr as u64).0

fn va_from_pa(pa: u64) -> u64 {
    let mut physical_address: PHYSICAL_ADDRESS = unsafe { core::mem::zeroed() };
    unsafe { *(physical_address.QuadPart_mut()) = pa as i64 };

    unsafe { MmGetVirtualForPhysical(physical_address) as u64 }

The VcpuData struct represents data associated with a virtual CPU in a hypervisor, and it contains a field called vmxon_region, which is a zero-initialized naturally aligned 4-KByte region of memory, as well as a field called vmxon_region_physical_address which is its physical address. The new() function initializes the VcpuData struct and allocates the VMXON Region in memory using a PhysicalAllocator. The init_vmxon_region() function initializes the VMXON Region with the VMCS revision ID, enables VMX operation by calling vmxon(), and returns an error if the virtual to physical address translation fails.

pub struct VcpuData {
    /// The virtual and physical address of the Vmxon naturally aligned 4-KByte region of memory
    pub vmxon_region: Box<VmxonRegion, PhysicalAllocator>,
    pub vmxon_region_physical_address: u64,

impl VcpuData {
    pub fn new() -> Result<Box<Self>, HypervisorError> {
        let instance = Self {
            vmxon_region: unsafe { Box::try_new_zeroed_in(PhysicalAllocator)?.assume_init() },
            vmxon_region_physical_address: 0,

        let mut instance = Box::new(instance);
        log::info!("[+] init_vmxon_region");

    /// Allocate a naturally aligned 4-KByte VMXON region of memory to enable VMX operation (Intel Manual: 25.11.5 VMXON Region)
    pub fn init_vmxon_region(&mut self) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
        self.vmxon_region_physical_address = physical_address(self.vmxon_region.as_ref() as *const _ as _).as_u64();

        if self.vmxon_region_physical_address == 0 {
            return Err(HypervisorError::VirtualToPhysicalAddressFailed);

        log::info!("[+] VMXON Region Virtual Address: {:p}", self.vmxon_region);
        log::info!("[+] VMXON Region Physical Addresss: 0x{:x}", self.vmxon_region_physical_address);

        self.vmxon_region.revision_id = support::get_vmcs_revision_id();
        self.vmxon_region.as_mut().revision_id.set_bit(31, false);

        log::info!("[+] VMXON successful!");


The vmxon() function is just a wrapper around the x86 vmxon() function, which calls vmxon <addr> in assembly. However, it is not necessary to create wrappers, but it helps with error handling.

/// Enable VMX operation.
pub fn vmxon(vmxon_pa: u64) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    match unsafe { x86::bits64::vmx::vmxon(vmxon_pa) } {
        Ok(_) => Ok(()),
        Err(_) => Err(HypervisorError::VMXONFailed),

The above initializes a memory region to enable VMX operation for a virtual CPU in a hypervisor. However, we want to do this for every logical/virtual CPU.

Virtual Central Processing Units (VCPUs)

Processor: The primary part of a computer that conducts mathematical, logical, input/output (I/O), and control activities is a processor, sometimes known as a central processing unit (CPU). It is in charge of carrying out commands and controlling the data flow inside a computer system.

Cores: A core is a physical processing unit that can carry out instructions within a CPU. In order to work in parallel with other cores, each core typically includes its arithmetic logic unit (ALU), register set, and cache.

Logical Processor: A processing unit within a CPU that can carry out a single thread of instructions is referred to as a logical processor, also known as a virtual processor. Depending on the particular processor design, each physical core in current CPUs can house several logical processors.

Say we have four physical cores in our processor; this translates to four separate processing units in our CPU. Hyper-threading technology allows for the simultaneous execution of two threads on each core. As a result, there are eight logical processors, which the operating system interprets as eight different CPUs.

General purpose registers, MSR registers, VMCSs, and VMXON Regions are among the registers to which each logical processor has access. We must ensure that a Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) is set up to use all logical processors. This will enable us to make the most of our CPU’s capabilities and deliver the best performance for our virtualized workloads.

We have a struct called Vcpu that represents a virtual CPU. It has two fields: index, which is an integer that represents the index of the processor, and data, which is an OnceCell that holds a boxed VcpuData instance. The new() function takes an index as an argument and creates a new Vcpu instance with that index and an uninitialized data field.

The virtualize_cpu function is responsible for initializing the virtual CPU for virtualization. It first enables the Virtual Machine Extensions (VMX), adjusts control registers, and then initializes the VcpuData structure by calling get_or_try_init on the data field. The get_or_try_init function initializes the data field if it has not been initialized before or returns the existing value if it has been initialized.

The devirtualize_cpu() is used to devirtualize the CPU using the vmxoff instruction. This instruction is used to disable virtualization and return control to the host operating system. The function returns a Result indicating whether the operation was successful or not and any relevant error information. The id() returns the index of the current virtual processor, which is helpful in multi-processor systems where we need to identify which processor is executing the code.

pub struct Vcpu {
    /// The index of the processor.
    index: u32,
    data: OnceCell<Box<VcpuData>>,

impl Vcpu {
    pub fn new(index: u32) -> Result<Self, HypervisorError> {
        log::trace!("Creating processor {}", index);

        Ok (Self {
            data: OnceCell::new(),

    pub fn virtualize_cpu(&self) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
        log::info!("[+] Enabling Virtual Machine Extensions (VMX)");

        log::info!("[+] Adjusting Control Registers");

        log::info!("[+] Initializing VcpuData");        
        let _vcpu_data = &self.data.get_or_try_init(|| VcpuData::new())?;

    /// Devirtualize the CPU using vmxoff
    pub fn devirtualize_cpu(&self) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {

    /// Gets the index of the current logical/virtual processor
    pub fn id(&self) -> u32 {

The vmxoff() function is just a wrapper around the x86 vmxoff() function, which calls vmxoff in assembly.

/// Disable VMX operation.
pub fn vmxoff() -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
    match unsafe { x86::bits64::vmx::vmxoff() } {
        Ok(_) => Ok(()),
        Err(_) => Err(HypervisorError::VMXOFFFailed),

Once again, we can reuse the code written by @not-matthias in this amd_hypervisor since there is no crate for it currently. The module provides utilities for managing processor affinity, which is the ability to control which processor(s) a thread can execute.

The processor_count() function returns the number of processors available on the system using the Windows kernel function KeQueryActiveProcessorCountEx

The current_processor_index() function returns the index of the processor currently executing the calling thread using the Windows kernel function KeGetCurrentProcessorNumberEx

The processor_number_from_index() function takes an index and returns the corresponding PROCESSOR_NUMBER structure, which identifies the processor’s group and number within that group using the Windows kernel function KeGetProcessorNumberFromIndex. If the index is out of range or if there is an error in the system call, the function returns None.

pub fn processor_count() -> u32 {
    unsafe { KeQueryActiveProcessorCountEx(ALL_PROCESSOR_GROUPS) }

pub fn current_processor_index() -> u32 {
    unsafe { KeGetCurrentProcessorNumberEx(core::ptr::null_mut()) }

/// Returns the processor number for the specified index.
fn processor_number_from_index(index: u32) -> Option<PROCESSOR_NUMBER> {
    let mut processor_number = MaybeUninit::uninit();

    let status = unsafe { KeGetProcessorNumberFromIndex(index, processor_number.as_mut_ptr()) };
    if NT_SUCCESS(status) {
        Some(unsafe { processor_number.assume_init() })
    } else {

The ProcessorExecutor struct temporarily switches execution to a specified processor until it is dropped. When an instance of ProcessorExecutor is created with a valid processor index, the switch_to_processor() function sets the affinity of the calling thread to the specified processor and yields execution to another thread using the Windows kernel function KeSetSystemGroupAffinityThread. If there is an error setting the affinity or yielding execution, the function returns None. When the ProcessorExecutor instance is dropped, the original processor affinity is restored using the Windows kernel function KeRevertToUserGroupAffinityThread.

/// Switches execution to a specific processor until dropped.
pub struct ProcessorExecutor {
    old_affinity: MaybeUninit<GROUP_AFFINITY>,

impl ProcessorExecutor {
    pub fn switch_to_processor(i: u32) -> Option<Self> {
        if i > processor_count() {
            log::error!("Invalid processor index: {}", i);
            return None;

        let processor_number = processor_number_from_index(i)?;

        let mut old_affinity = MaybeUninit::uninit();
        let mut affinity: GROUP_AFFINITY = unsafe { core::mem::zeroed() };

        affinity.Group = processor_number.Group;
        affinity.Mask = 1 << processor_number.Number;
        affinity.Reserved[0] = 0;
        affinity.Reserved[1] = 0;
        affinity.Reserved[2] = 0;

        log::trace!("Switching execution to processor {}", i);
        unsafe { KeSetSystemGroupAffinityThread(&mut affinity, old_affinity.as_mut_ptr()) };

        log::trace!("Yielding execution");
        if !NT_SUCCESS(unsafe { ZwYieldExecution() }) {
            return None;

        Some(Self { old_affinity })

impl Drop for ProcessorExecutor {
    fn drop(&mut self) {
        log::trace!("Switching execution back to previous processor");
        unsafe {

We have a Hypervisor struct and a HypervisorBuilder struct for virtualization. The HypervisorBuilder struct has a build() function that creates a new Hypervisor instance and returns it as a Result. The build() function checks whether the CPU is an Intel processor and whether it supports the Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) technology. If the CPU and VMX are supported, the function creates and populates a vector (Vec) of virtual CPUs (Vcpu), one per available processor, and initializes a new Hypervisor instance with the vector of virtual CPUs (Vcpu).

The Hypervisor struct has three methods:

  1. The builder() function returns a new HypervisorBuilder instance.

  2. The virtualize() function virtualizes all of the available processors by calling ProcessorExecutor::switch_to_processor() for each processor and then calling the virtualize_cpu() method on each Vcpu instance in the "processors" vector.

  3. The devirtualize() function devirtualizes all of the available processors by calling ProcessorExecutor::switch_to_processor() for each processor and then calling the devirtualize_cpu() method on each Vcpu object in the "processors" vector.

The virtualize() and devirtualize() functions use the ProcessorExecutor struct to switch execution to each processor temporarily and then switch back after the virtualization or devirtualization operation is complete.

This module provides a way to build a Hypervisor instance with support for virtualizing all available processors and provides methods for virtualizing and devirtualizing the processors using the Vcpu struct and the ProcessorExecutor struct.

pub struct HypervisorBuilder;

impl HypervisorBuilder {
    pub fn build(self) -> Result<Hypervisor, HypervisorError> {
        // 1) Intel Manual: 24.6 Discover Support for Virtual Machine Extension (VMX)
        log::info!("[+] CPU is Intel");
        log::info!("[+] Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) technology is supported");

        let mut processors: Vec<Vcpu> = Vec::new();
        for i in 0..processor_count() {
        log::info!("[+] Found {} processors", processors.len());

        Ok(Hypervisor { processors })

pub struct Hypervisor {
    processors: Vec<Vcpu>,

impl Hypervisor {
    pub fn builder() -> HypervisorBuilder {

    pub fn virtualize(&mut self) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
        log::info!("[+] Virtualizing processors");

        for processor in self.processors.iter_mut() {
            let Some(executor) = ProcessorExecutor::switch_to_processor(processor.id()) else {
                return Err(HypervisorError::ProcessorSwitchFailed);


    pub fn devirtualize(&mut self) -> Result<(), HypervisorError> {
        log::info!("[+] Devirtualizing processors");

        for processor in self.processors.iter_mut() {
            let Some(executor) = ProcessorExecutor::switch_to_processor(processor.id()) else {
                return Err(HypervisorError::ProcessorSwitchFailed);



This follows a similar neat structure to the amd_hypervisor made by @not-matthias, which will help integrate the open-source projects if required.

We create a Windows kernel driver in Rust. When loaded, the driver_entry function is called automatically, and we initialize a logger and set the driver unload function to driver_unload. We then attempt to virtualize the processor by calling virtualize().is_none(). If the virtualization process fails, we return STATUS_UNSUCCESSFUL, and if it succeeds, we return STATUS_SUCCESS.

The virtualize() function is responsible for virtualizing the processor using the hypervisor module. To do this, we create a new hypervisor using Hypervisor::builder() and attempt to build it using hv.build(). If the build process fails, we log an error message and return None. If the build process succeeds, we attempt to virtualize the processor using hypervisor.virtualize(). If the virtualization process succeeds, we log a success message, and if it fails, we log an error message and return None. If the virtualization process succeeds, we save the hypervisor in a static mutable variable called HYPERVISOR and return Some(()).

When our driver is unloaded, the driver_unload function is called automatically, which devirtualizes the processor using the hypervisor module. If the devirtualization process succeeds, we log a success message, and if it fails, we log the error message.

static mut HYPERVISOR: Option<Hypervisor> = None;

pub extern "system" fn driver_entry(driver: &mut DRIVER_OBJECT, _: &UNICODE_STRING) -> NTSTATUS {
    KernelLogger::init(LevelFilter::Info).expect("Failed to initialize logger");
    log::info!("Driver Entry called");

    driver.DriverUnload = Some(driver_unload);

    if virtualize().is_none() {
        log::error!("Failed to virtualize processors");


pub extern "system" fn driver_unload(_driver: &mut DRIVER_OBJECT) {
    log::info!("Driver unloaded successfully!");
    if let Some(mut hypervisor) = unsafe { HYPERVISOR.take() } {
        match hypervisor.devirtualize() {
            Ok(_) => log::info!("[+] Devirtualized successfully!"),
            Err(err) => log::error!("[-] Failed to dervirtualize {}", err),

fn virtualize() -> Option<()> {

    let hv = Hypervisor::builder();

    let Ok(mut hypervisor) = hv.build() else {
        log::error!("[-] Failed to build hypervisor");
        return None;

    match hypervisor.virtualize() {
        Ok(_) => log::info!("[+] VMM initialized"),
        Err(err) =>  {
            log::error!("[-] VMM initialization failed: {}", err);
            return None;

    unsafe { HYPERVISOR = Some(hypervisor) }


We can now test our code by creating a service and starting it to load our Windows kernel driver.

sc.exe create hypervisor type= kernel binPath= C:\Windows\System32\drivers\hypervisor.sys
sc.exe query hypervisor
sc.exe start hypervisor

The output is shown in Windbg:

INFO  [driver] Driver Entry called
INFO  [hypervisor] [+] CPU is Intel
INFO  [hypervisor] [+] Virtual Machine Extension (VMX) technology is supported
INFO  [hypervisor] [+] Found 2 processors
INFO  [hypervisor] [+] Virtualizing processors
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu] [+] Enabling Virtual Machine Extensions (VMX)
INFO  [hypervisor::support] [+] Lock bit set via IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu] [+] Adjusting Control Registers
INFO  [hypervisor::support] [+] Mandatory bits in CR0 set/cleared
INFO  [hypervisor::support] [+] Mandatory bits in CR4 set/cleared
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu] [+] Initializing VcpuData
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu_data] [+] init_vmxon_region
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu_data] [+] VMXON Region Virtual Address: 0xffffa3801098a000
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu_data] [+] VMXON Region Physical Addresss: 0x23ffc1000
INFO  [hypervisor::vcpu_data] [+] VMXON successful!

Congratulations! You have completed the first part of the Intel VT-x Hypervisor Development in Rust series. I hope you enjoyed it.

Credits / References / Thanks / Motivation

Thanks to @daax_rynd, @Intel80x86, @not_matthias, @standa_t, and @felix-rs / @joshuа