Managing ARM workloads [NEW]

Skaffold has a lot of intelligence built-in to simplify working with ARM workloads. Whether developing on an Apple Silicon Macbook that uses an ARM based chip, or deploying to a GKE Kubernetes cluster having ARM nodes, Skaffold can take away the complexities that arise when the architecture of your development machine and Kubernetes cluster don’t match.

Why is image architecture important?

Container images are built targeting specific Instruction Set Architectures like amd64, arm64, etc. You must use container images that are compatible with the architecture of the node where you intend to run the workloads. For example, to deploy to a GKE cluster running ARM nodes, the image needs to be built for linux/arm64 platform.

All image builders build for different default architecture and not all support cross-architecture builds. For instance Docker will build the image for the same architecture as the host machine, whereas Buildpacks will always build it for amd64.

Additionally, the following combination of development machine and cluster node architectures can make it difficult to build and deploy images correctly:

  • Dev machine architecture is amd64 while the target cluster runs arm64 nodes.
  • Dev machine architecture is arm64 (say Apple Silicon Macbooks) while the target cluster runs amd64 nodes.
  • The target cluster runs both arm64 and amd64 nodes (mixed node pools).

🎉 Skaffold provides an opionated way to handle all these cases effectively. 🎉

Skaffold can set the image architecture automatically

When running Skaffold in an interactive mode like skaffold dev, skaffold debug or skaffold run where the intention is to build an image from the application code, and immediately deploy it to a Kubernetes cluster, Skaffold will check the active Kubernetes cluster node architecture and provide that as an argument to the respective image builder. If the cluster has multiple architecture nodes, then Skaffold will also create appropriate Kubernetes affinity rules so that the Kubernetes Pods with these images are assigned to matching architecture nodes.

Let’s test this in a sample Golang project:

  • The skaffold.yaml file defines a single Docker build artifact and deploys it in a Kubernetes Pod.

  • First set the active Kubernetes context to a cluster having only linux/amd64 nodes, and run:

    skaffold dev --default-repo=your/container/registy
    

    Skaffold will detect the cluster node platform linux/amd64 and build the image for this platform:

    skaffold dev --default-repo=gcr.io/k8s-skaffold
    Listing files to watch...
    - skaffold-example
    Generating tags...
    - skaffold-example -> gcr.io/k8s-skaffold/skaffold-example:latest
    Starting build...
    Building [skaffold-example]...
    Target platforms: [linux/amd64]
    ...
    Build [skaffold-example] succeeded
    Starting deploy...
    - pod/getting-started created
    Waiting for deployments to stabilize...
    - pods is ready.
    Deployments stabilized in 7.42 seconds
    Press Ctrl+C to exit
    Watching for changes...
    [getting-started] Hello world! Running on linux/amd64
    
  • Now set the active Kubernetes context to a cluster containing only linux/arm64 nodes. See here to know how you can create an ARM GKE cluster.

    Re-running the dev command will now build a linux/arm64 image.

    skaffold dev --default-repo=gcr.io/k8s-skaffold
    ...
    ...
    [getting-started] Hello world! Running on linux/arm64
    
  • Now set the active Kubernetes context to a cluster containing both linux/arm64 and linux/amd64 nodes. You can create a GKE cluster with 2 node pools, one having linux/amd64 nodes, and the other having linux/arm64 nodes.

    Re-run the dev command but with an explicit platform target this time via the --platform flag. If we don’t provide the target platform explicitly then Skaffold will choose one between linux/amd64 and linux/arm64, trying to match your local dev machine architecture.

    skaffold dev --default-repo=your/container/registy --platform=linux/amd64
    

    Skaffold will build a linux/amd64 image and insert a nodeAffinity definition to the Pod so that it gets scheduled on the matching architecture node.

    skaffold dev --default-repo=gcr.io/k8s-skaffold --platform=linux/amd64
    ...
    ...
    [getting-started] Hello world! Running on linux/amd64
    
  • Validate that the nodeAffinity was applied by running the command (skip | jq if you don’t have jq installed):

    kubectl get pod getting-started  -o=jsonpath='{.spec.affinity}' | jq
    {
      "nodeAffinity": {
        "requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution": {
          "nodeSelectorTerms": [
            {
              "matchExpressions": [
                {
                  "key": "kubernetes.io/os",
                  "operator": "In",
                  "values": [
                    "linux"
                  ]
                },
                {
                  "key": "kubernetes.io/arch",
                  "operator": "In",
                  "values": [
                    "amd64"
                  ]
                }
              ]
            }
          ]
        }
      }
    }
    

This example will run the same whether you’re using an arm64 machine (say an Apple Silicon Macbook) or an amd64 machine.

Skaffold also supports cross-architecture builds on Google Cloud Build. You can rerun this example, with the additional flag --profile cloudbuild to all the dev commands to build on Google Cloud Build instead of the local Docker daemon.

What about multi-arch images?

A multi-arch image is an image that can support multiple architectures. It looks like a single image with a single tag, but is actually a list of images targeting multiple architectures organized by an image index. When you deploy a multi-arch image to a cluster, the container runtime automatically chooses the right image that is compatible with the architecture of the node to which it is being deployed. This simplifies targeting multiple clusters of different architecture nodes, and/or mixed-architecture nodes.

Skaffold supports building multi-platform images natively using the jib builder, the ko builder and the custom builder. For other builders that support building cross-architecture images, Skaffold will iteratively build a single platform image for each target architecture and stitch them together into a multi-platform image, and push it to the registry.

multi-arch-flow

Let’s test this in the same sample Golang project as before:

  • Run this command to build for the target architectures linux/amd64 and linux/arm64:

    skaffold build -t latest --default-repo=your/container/registy --platform=linux/amd64,linux/arm64
    ...
    Building [skaffold-example]...
    Target platforms: [linux/amd64,linux/arm64]
    ...
    [+] Building 0.3s (13/13) FINISHED
    ...
    => => writing image sha256:10af3142e460566f5791c48758f0040cef6932cbcb0766082dcbb0d8db7653e7
    => => naming to gcr.io/k8s-skaffold/skaffold-example:latest_linux_amd64
    ...
    latest_linux_amd64: digest: sha256:15bd4f2380e99b3563f8add1aba9691e414d4cc5701363d9c74960a20fb276c4 size: 739
    ...
    [+] Building 52.8s (13/13) FINISHED
    ...
    => => writing image sha256:68866691e2d6f079b116e097ae4e67a53eaf89e825b52d6f31f2e9cc566974de
    => => naming to gcr.io/k8s-skaffold/skaffold-example:latest_linux_arm64
    ...
    4e0c2525c370: Pushed
    latest_linux_arm64: digest: sha256:868d0aec1cc7d2ed1fa1e840f38ff1aa50c3cc3d3232ea17a065618eaec4e82b size: 739
    Build [skaffold-example] succeeded
    
  • Validate that the image just built was multi-arch, by running the following docker command:

    docker manifest inspect your/container/registry/skaffold-example:latest | grep -A 3 "platform"
    

    Outputs:

      "platform": {
          "architecture": "amd64",
          "os": "linux"
      }
    --
      "platform": {
          "architecture": "arm64",
          "os": "linux"
      }
    
  • Now if we render the Kubernetes Pod manifest for this multi-arch image, then it’ll have platform affinity definition targeting both linux/amd64 and linux/arm64 architectures.

    skaffold render --default-repo=your/container/registry --enable-platform-node-affinity
    

    Outputs:

    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Pod
    metadata:
      name: getting-started
      namespace: default
    spec:
      affinity:
        nodeAffinity:
          requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution:
            nodeSelectorTerms:
            - matchExpressions:
              - key: kubernetes.io/os
                operator: In
                values:
                - linux
              - key: kubernetes.io/arch
                operator: In
                values:
                - amd64
            - matchExpressions:
              - key: kubernetes.io/os
                operator: In
                values:
                - linux
              - key: kubernetes.io/arch
                operator: In
                values:
                - arm64
      containers:
      - image: gcr.io/k8s-skaffold/skaffold-example:latest@sha256:9ecf4e52f7ff64b35deacf9d6eedc03f35d69e0b4bf3679b97ba492f4389f784
        name: getting-started
    
Last modified August 10, 2022: fix: improve multi-arch docs (#7767) (c3fe38d25)