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I'm running a Windows 10 virtual machine as my daily driver, it's running on top of ubuntu server 16.04. GPU and USB expansion card passthrough works just fine but I'm experiencing maxed out host CPU (shows up as "system" CPU usage but it is under qemu in htop) when the guest plays ANY audio, regardless if it's to the hypervisor provided ich9 sound card, passed-through onboard sound card (it is in it's own IOMMU group!) or the sound card that's built in the GPU.

The passed onboard sound card is built into the Z97 chipset.

Here is the VM xml file:

<domain type='kvm' id='1' xmlns:qemu='http://libvirt.org/schemas/domain/qemu/1.0'>
  <name>Windowz</name>
  <uuid>d7c7a1da-2083-49a0-a968-6f28ca9c914e</uuid>
  <memory unit='KiB'>20971520</memory>
  <currentMemory unit='KiB'>20971520</currentMemory>
  <vcpu placement='static'>4</vcpu>
  <resource>
    <partition>/machine</partition>
  </resource>
  <os>
    <type arch='x86_64' machine='pc-i440fx-xenial'>hvm</type>
  </os>
  <features>
    <acpi/>
    <apic/>
    <hyperv>
      <relaxed state='on'/>
      <vapic state='on'/>
      <spinlocks state='on' retries='8191'/>
    </hyperv>
  </features>
  <cpu mode='host-passthrough'>
    <topology sockets='1' cores='4' threads='1'/>
  </cpu>
  <clock offset='localtime'>
    <timer name='rtc' tickpolicy='catchup'/>
    <timer name='pit' tickpolicy='delay'/>
    <timer name='hpet' present='no'/>
    <timer name='hypervclock' present='yes'/>
  </clock>
  <on_poweroff>destroy</on_poweroff>
  <on_reboot>restart</on_reboot>
  <on_crash>restart</on_crash>
  <pm>
    <suspend-to-mem enabled='no'/>
    <suspend-to-disk enabled='no'/>
  </pm>
  <devices>
    <emulator>/usr/bin/qemu-system-x86_64</emulator>
    <disk type='file' device='cdrom'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='sda' bus='sata'/>
      <readonly/>
      <boot order='2'/>
      <alias name='sata0-0-0'/>
      <address type='drive' controller='0' bus='0' target='0' unit='0'/>
    </disk>
    <disk type='file' device='cdrom'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='sdb' bus='sata'/>
      <readonly/>
      <alias name='sata0-0-1'/>
      <address type='drive' controller='0' bus='0' target='0' unit='1'/>
    </disk>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw' cache='none' io='native'/>
      <source dev='/dev/sdd'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='vdc' bus='virtio'/>
      <alias name='virtio-disk2'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0e' function='0x0'/>
    </disk>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw' cache='none' io='native'/>
      <source dev='/dev/nvme0n1'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='vdd' bus='virtio'/>
      <boot order='1'/>
      <alias name='virtio-disk3'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0f' function='0x0'/>
    </disk>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw' cache='none' io='native'/>
      <source dev='/dev/sdb'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='vde' bus='virtio'/>
      <alias name='virtio-disk4'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x08' function='0x0'/>
    </disk>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw' cache='none' io='native'/>
      <source dev='/dev/sdc'/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev='vdf' bus='virtio'/>
      <alias name='virtio-disk5'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x09' function='0x0'/>
    </disk>
    <controller type='pci' index='0' model='pci-root'>
      <alias name='pci.0'/>
    </controller>
    <controller type='sata' index='0'>
      <alias name='sata0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x05' function='0x0'/>
    </controller>
    <controller type='virtio-serial' index='0'>
      <alias name='virtio-serial0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x07' function='0x0'/>
    </controller>
    <controller type='usb' index='0' model='nec-xhci'>
      <alias name='usb'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x06' function='0x0'/>
    </controller>
    <interface type='user'>
      <mac address='52:54:00:5d:ea:ef'/>
      <model type='virtio'/>
      <alias name='net0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x03' function='0x0'/>
    </interface>
    <channel type='spicevmc'>
      <target type='virtio' name='com.redhat.spice.0' state='disconnected'/>
      <alias name='channel0'/>
      <address type='virtio-serial' controller='0' bus='0' port='1'/>
    </channel>
    <input type='mouse' bus='ps2'/>
    <input type='keyboard' bus='ps2'/>
    <graphics type='vnc' port='5900' autoport='no' listen='0.0.0.0'>
      <listen type='address' address='0.0.0.0'/>
    </graphics>
    <sound model='ich9'>
      <alias name='sound0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x04' function='0x0'/>
    </sound>
    <video>
      <model type='qxl' ram='65536' vram='65536' vgamem='16384' heads='1' primary='yes'/>
      <alias name='video0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x02' function='0x0'/>
    </video>
    <hostdev mode='subsystem' type='pci' managed='yes'>
      <driver name='vfio'/>
      <source>
        <address domain='0x0000' bus='0x06' slot='0x00' function='0x0'/>
      </source>
      <alias name='hostdev0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0a' function='0x0'/>
    </hostdev>
    <hostdev mode='subsystem' type='pci' managed='yes'>
      <driver name='vfio'/>
      <source>
        <address domain='0x0000' bus='0x06' slot='0x00' function='0x1'/>
      </source>
      <alias name='hostdev1'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0b' function='0x0'/>
    </hostdev>
    <hostdev mode='subsystem' type='pci' managed='yes'>
      <driver name='vfio'/>
      <source>
        <address domain='0x0000' bus='0x07' slot='0x00' function='0x0'/>
      </source>
      <alias name='hostdev2'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0d' function='0x0'/>
    </hostdev>
    <hostdev mode='subsystem' type='pci' managed='yes'>
      <driver name='vfio'/>
      <source>
        <address domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x1b' function='0x0'/>
      </source>
      <alias name='hostdev3'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x10' function='0x0'/>
    </hostdev>
    <redirdev bus='usb' type='spicevmc'>
      <alias name='redir0'/>
      <address type='usb' bus='0' port='1'/>
    </redirdev>
    <redirdev bus='usb' type='spicevmc'>
      <alias name='redir1'/>
      <address type='usb' bus='0' port='2'/>
    </redirdev>
    <memballoon model='virtio'>
      <alias name='balloon0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x0c' function='0x0'/>
    </memballoon>
  </devices>
  <qemu:commandline>
    <qemu:arg value='-redir'/>
    <qemu:arg value='tcp:1339::1337'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-redir'/>
    <qemu:arg value='tcp:3819::3819'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-redir'/>
    <qemu:arg value='tcp:29176::29176'/>
  </qemu:commandline>
</domain>
1

Managed to find the answer, for anyone having the same issue. This post about unraid explains it all. I updated my kernel from the stock version that comes with Ubuntu 16.04 and issue is resolved.

Some details from jonp in a post in that thread:

Gents, I have some good news. We've figured this issue out. We had to bisect a merge window kernel (NOT FUN) to figure this one out, but we did it. It will affect all Windows 10 VMs running under QEMU/KVM running on any 4.3.x or 4.4.x branch of the Linux kernel. Thankfully, we found a way to solve it WITHOUT having to modify the kernel itself. The next beta will have this resolved.

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