[LLVMdev] Adding safe-point code generation

Gordon Henriksen gordonhenriksen at me.com
Wed Jun 24 11:06:07 PDT 2009

On 2009-06-23, at 15:18, Jeffrey Yasskin wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 4:18 AM, Gordon Henriksen <gordonhenriksen at me.com 
> > wrote:
> Hi Jeffrey,
> On 2009-06-22, at 01:49, Jeffrey Yasskin wrote:
>> I need to add thread-switching support to Unladen Swallow's JIT,  
>> and LLVM's safe point support looks like a good way to get code  
>> into all the right places. However, http://llvm.org/docs/GarbageCollection.html#collector-algos 
>>  points out that there's no way to emit code at safe points yet,  
>> and there are no loop safe points at all. So I'll be trying to  
>> implement them.
>> Is there anything I should know before starting?
> Sounds like you've got the right idea.
>> One way to do this might be to add a FunctionPass to  
>> LLVMTargetMachine::addCommonCodeGenPasses() alongside  
>> createGCLoweringPass(), which would insert user-defined code for  
>> safe points. Unfortunately, code inserted there would stick around  
>> in the IR after the machine code was emitted, and if the function  
>> were JITted again, we'd get duplicate safe points.
> Unfortunately, I don't believe this is workable. It would make this  
> work much easier if it were.
>> Another way to do it might be to add a MachineFunction pass next to  
>> createGCMachineCodeAnalysisPass() (or instead of it), which could  
>> emit appropriate MachineInstructions to implement the safe point.  
>> This, of course, forces safe points to be written in  
>> MachineInstructions instead of IR instructions, which isn't ideal.
> I think this is the way to go, though it's also the most involved.  
> My primary rationale is that code generation can hack on the CFG,  
> even introducing loops where there were none expressed in the IR. It  
> could be that I'm being unnecessarily pessimistic on this point,  
> though.
> As a specific example of the code generator hacking on the CFG, take  
> atomic operations which expand to loops on architectures which use  
> load-reserved/store-conditional to implement these primitives. It  
> may not be necessary or desirable to add safe points to these loops,  
> but perhaps should be preferred on the basis o correctness.
> As another example, consider a 64-bit integer divide on a 32-bit  
> architecture expanding to a libcall. Some, but perhaps not all,  
> collection algorithms would want to emit safe point code for this  
> call, but it simply does not exist in the IR to instrument.
> I'm worried that it'll be necessary for some garbage collectors and  
> hurt performance too much for others. Should it be configurable? I  
> don't need to insert safe points in such loops and calls for my use,  
> so I'd try to make it extensible, but then leave support for these  
> loops and calls to someone who actually needs them.

That sounds best.

> Also, code injection of the form 'give me 8 bytes of noops at each  
> safe point' and 'insert a cold instruction sequence at the end of  
> the function' are best expressed at the machine code level. Safe  
> points are hot code and unusual, target-specific techniques are  
> regularly used with them if you survey the literature, so a design  
> which accommodates that reality is preferred, even though hacking on  
> the MachineFunction representation is less pleasant than the IR.
> I'd like to allow target-specific techniques, but also allow target- 
> independent techniques, and the target-independent techniques are  
> more important for what I'm actually doing. Now that I've looked  
> into MachineInstructions more, it looks like it's impossible to use  
> them in a target-independent way.

I agree. I think the lowering would actually occur in the  
SelectionDAG, rather than at the MachineFunction level.

> One element of this design that is desirable from a design  
> perspective is that it preserves the original IR. Chris has said  
> that it's a long-term goal of LLVM to not mangle the Function during  
> code generation, and this moves in that direction instead of  
> regressing.
> I definitely like that feature.


>> Another way might be to run a pass over the IR inserting  
>> llvm.safepoint() calls, which could be implemented as a function in  
>> the module. Then we'd want a MachineFunction pass to inline this  
>> for us during codegen. The llvm.safepoint() calls could be easily  
>> identified and removed if the IR needs to be re-used.
> I see this as fairly equivalent to the first option.
> I don't, because the user can control how they lower  
> llvm.safepoint(). For uses like mine, where I'd rather write the  
> safe point in IR, I can implement it as a function (if I have a  
> selectiondag-level inliner). For more advanced garbage collectors,  
> they can implement it as a custom lowering in their target. The  
> biggest downside of an llvm.safepoint intrinsic would be that it  
> couldn't capture loops and calls introduced by lowering, unless  
> those lowerings explicitly introduced new safepoints.


> Also, regardless, stop point markers (a label is actually generated)  
> need to survive as such into the MachineFunction representation else  
> we'll never be able to generate a register map.
> Hope that helps,
> Gordon
> P.S. There's an interesting circularity which I may not have  
> accounted for in the original design: If code is injected at each  
> safe point, and a call instruction is injected, do we need to  
> generate another safe point for that call? Clearly, the expansion of  
> a safe point cannot be recursive with itself; but I think that we  
> should allow generating a register map at the return address of that  
> call, just as some collectors may want to instrument the libcall  
> case discussed above.
> Actually, this distinction between safe points for inserting code  
> and safe points for frame maps is probably is a critical design  
> issue for your use case. Our current definition of a safe point is  
> at the return address of a call instruction, which is precisely  
> what's required to walk the stack. This is NOT the location where  
> you want to add a call to your runtime.
> I think you're saying that we need two kinds of safe points: points  
> at which to insert code, and points that the  
> GCFunctionInfo::iterator traverses. The code-inserting safe points  
> could insert traversed safe points.

That's a good summary of the problem, yes.

— Gordon
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