[cfe-dev] _Float16 support

Sjoerd Meijer via cfe-dev cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Jan 24 01:46:35 PST 2019


I added _Float16 support to Clang and codegen support in the AArch64 and ARM backends, but have not looked into x86. Ahmed is right: AArch64 is fine, only a few ACLE intrinsics are missing. ARM has rough edges: scalar codegen should be mostly fine, vector codegen needs some more work.

Implementation for AArch64 was mostly straightforward (it only has hard float ABI, and has half register/type support), but for ARM it was a huge pain to plumb f16 support because of different ABIs (hard/soft), different architecture extensions of FP and FP16 support, and the existence of another half-precision type with different semantics. Sounds like you're doing a similar exercise, and yes, argument passing was one of the trickiest parts.

> IR and SelectionDAG representational choices aside, it seems to me that,

> like GCC, Clang should not be permitting _Float16 on any target  that doesn't

> specify an ABI for it, because otherwise we're just creating future compatibility

> problems for that target.  I'm surprised and  disappointed that it wasn't implemented

> this way.

Apologies, I missed that.


From: llvm-dev <llvm-dev-bounces at lists.llvm.org> on behalf of Kaylor, Andrew via llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org>
Sent: 24 January 2019 00:23
To: Ahmed Bougacha; Lu, Hongjiu
Cc: llvm-dev; cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
Subject: Re: [llvm-dev] [cfe-dev] _Float16 support

It seems that there are several issues here:

1. Should the front end be concerned with whether or not the IR that it is emitting can be translated into a well-defined IR?
2. How should the selection DAG handle data types whose representation isn't defined by the ABI we're targeting?
3. What should the ABI do with half-precision floats?

Working backward...

The third question here is obviously target specific. I've talked to HJ Lu about this, and he's working on an update to the x86 psABI. I believe that his eventual proposal will follow the lines of what you (Ahmed) suggested below, but I'm not completely proficient at comprehending ABI definitions so there may be some subtlety that I am misunderstanding in what he told me. I also talked to Craig about would be involved in making the LLVM x86 backend handle 'half' values this way. That involves a good bit of work, but it can be done.

The second question above probably involves a mix of target-independent and target-specific code. Right now the selection DAG code is operating on the assumption that it needs to do *something* with any IR it is given. It tries to make a reasonable choice, and the choice is consistent and predictable but not necessarily what the user expects. It seems like we should at the very least be producing a diagnostic so the user knows what we did (or even just that we did something). Then there are the specific problems Craig has brought up with the way we're currently handling 'half' values. Would defining a legal f16 type take care of those problems?

The first question exposes my lack of understanding of the proper role of the front end. It isn't clear to me what responsibility the front end has for enforcing conformance to the ABI. As a user of the compiler, I would like the compiler to tell me when code I've written can't be represented using the ABI I am targeting. Whether the front end should detect this or the backend, I don't know. I suppose it's also an open question how strictly this should be enforced. Is it a warning that can be elevated to an error at the users' discretion? Is it something that should be blocked by default but enabled by a user-specified option? Should it always be rejected?


-----Original Message-----
From: Ahmed Bougacha <ahmed.bougacha at gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 3:30 PM
To: Kaylor, Andrew <andrew.kaylor at intel.com>
Cc: cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org; llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org>; Craig Topper <craig.topper at gmail.com>; Richard Smith <richard at metafoo.co.uk>
Subject: Re: [cfe-dev] _Float16 support

Hey Andy,

On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 10:38 AM Kaylor, Andrew via cfe-dev <cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> I'd like to start a discussion about how clang supports _Float16 for target architectures that don't have direct support for 16-bit floating point arithmetic.

Thanks for bringing this up;  we'd also like to get better support, for sysv x86-64 specifically - AArch64 is mostly fine, and ARM is usable with +fp16.

I'm not sure much of this discussion generalizes across platforms though (beyond Craig's potential bug fix?).  I guess the "target-independent" question is: should we allow this kind of "legalization" in the vreg assignment code at all? (I think that's where it all comes from: RegsForValue, TLI::get*Register*) It's convenient for experimental frontends: you can use weird types (half, i3, ...) without worrying too much about it, and you usually get something self-consistent out of the backend.  But you eventually need to worry about it and need to make the calling convention explicit.  But I guess that's a discussion for the other thread ;)

> The current clang language extensions documentation says, "If half-precision instructions are unavailable, values will be promoted to single-precision, similar to the semantics of __fp16 except that the results will be stored in single-precision." This is somewhat vague (to me) as to what is meant by promotion of values, and the part about results being stored in single-precision isn't what actually happens.
> Consider this example:
> _Float16 x;
> _Float16 f(_Float16 y, _Float16 z) {
>   x = y * z;
>   return x;
> }
> When compiling with “-march=core-avx2” that results (after some trivial cleanup) in this IR:
> @x = global half 0xH0000, align 2
> define half @f(half, half) {
>   %3 = fmul half %0, %1
>   store half %3, half* @x
>   ret half %3
> }
> That’s not too unreasonable I suppose, except for the fact that it hasn’t taken the lack of target support for half-precision arithmetic into account yet. That will happen in the selection DAG. The assembly code generated looks like this (with my annotations):
> f:                                      # @f
> # %bb.0:
>        vcvtps2ph       xmm1, xmm1, 4             # Convert argument 1 from single to half
>         vcvtph2ps       xmm1, xmm1                # Convert argument 1 back to single
>         vcvtps2ph       xmm0, xmm0, 4            # Convert argument 0 from single to half
>         vcvtph2ps       xmm0, xmm0                # Convert argument 0 back to single
>         vmulss             xmm0, xmm0, xmm1   # xmm0 = xmm0*xmm1 (single precision)
>         vcvtps2ph       xmm1, xmm0, 4            # Convert the single precision result to half
>         vmovd             eax, xmm1                      # Move the half precision result to eax
>         mov                 word ptr [rip + x], ax     # Store the half precision result in the global, x
>         ret                                                             # Return the single precision result still in xmm0
> .Lfunc_end0:
>                                         # -- End function
> Something odd has happened here, and it may not be obvious what it is. This code begins by converting xmm0 and xmm1 from single to half and then back to single. The first conversion is happening because the back end decided that it needed to change the types of the parameters to single precision but the function body is expecting half precision values. However, since the target can’t perform the required computation with half precision values they must be converted back to single for the multiplication. The single precision result of the multiplication is converted to half precision to be stored in the global value, x, but the result is returned as single precision (via xmm0).
> I’m not primarily worried about the extra conversions here. We can’t get rid of them because we can’t prove they aren’t rounding, but that’s a secondary issue. What I’m worried about is that we allowed/required the back end to improvise an ABI to satisfy the incoming IR, and the choice it made is questionable.

As Richard said, an ABI rule emerged from the implementation, and I believe we should solidify it, so here's a simple strawman proposal:
pass scalars in the low 16 bits of SSE registers, don't change the memory layout, and pack them in vectors of 16-bit elements.  That matches the only ISA extension so far (ph<>ps conversions), and fits well with that (as opposed to i16 coercion) as well as vectors (as opposed to f32 promotion).  To my knowledge, there hasn't been any alternative ABI proposal (but I haven't looked in 1 or 2 years).  It's interesting because we technically have no way of accessing scalars (so we have the same problems as i8/i16 vector elements, but without the saving grace of having matching GPRs - x86, or direct copies - aarch64), and there are not even any scalar operations.

Any thoughts?  We can suggest this to x86-psABI if folks think this is a good idea. (I don't know about other ABIs or other architectures though).

Concretely, this means no/little change in IRGen.  As for the SDAG implementation, this is an unusual situation.  I've done some experimentation a long time ago.  We can make the types legal, even
though no operations are.   It's relatively straightforward to promote
all operations (and we made sure that worked years ago for AArch64, for the pre-v8.2 mode), but vectors are fun, because of build_vector (where it helps to have the truncating behavior we have for integers, but for fp), extract_vector_elt (where you need the matching extend), and insert_vector_elt (which you have to lower using some movd and/or pinsrw trickery, if you want to avoid the generic slow via-memory fallback).
Alternatively, we can immediately, in call lowering/register assignment logic (this covers the SDAG cross-BB vreg assignments Craig
mentions) promote to f32 "via" i16.  I'm afraid I don't remember the arguments one way or the other, I can dust off my old patches and put them up on phabricator.


> For a point of comparison, I looked at what gcc does. Currently, gcc only allows _Float16 in C, not C++, and if you try to use it with a target that doesn’t have native support for half-precision arithmetic, it tells you “’_Float16’ is not supported on this target.” That seems preferable to making up an ABI on the fly.
> I haven’t looked at what happens with clang when compiling for other targets that don’t have native support for half-precision arithmetic, but I would imagine that similar problems exist.
> Thoughts?
> Thanks,
> Andy
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