[LLVMdev] Another way to JIT: "dlopen from memory"

Reid Kleckner reid.kleckner at gmail.com
Wed Jul 7 12:41:18 PDT 2010

On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 9:08 AM, Greg Clayton <gclayton at apple.com> wrote:
>> 2) Can I easily debug JIT'd code with LLDB?
> Are you running JIT'd code within another process that can be debugged (i.e. the simulation binary)? If so, you might want to have LLVM generate a full blown dylib, not just a JIT'd chunk of code and load the dylib using the standard shared library load/unload calls. Why? This gets you around the fact that JIT'd code isn't recognized by the dynamic linker on most systems. /usr/bin/dyld on Mac OS X has some provisions for JIT'd code, but nothing that gives debuggers visibility into that code. So going the dylib route has a few benefits:
> - code will work with any debugger (gdb and lldb) in a standard kind of way
> - dylib's can have debug information generated in the standard way
> - no need to manage memory chunks for JIT'd code

This idea has been kicked around a few times on IRC and elsewhere, and
I think it's pretty clever.  The idea is to JIT by making a valid
dylib/dll/so (heceforth, dylib) with the JITed code in memory, and
then convincing the loader to load it.  This is nice for the reasons
listed above.

I think it would be neat if LLVM could package up this functionality,
since it fits most use cases for the current LLVM JIT.  LLVM
compilation is already heavyweight, so the overhead of linking and
loading the library shouldn't be too bad.

For now, this can be achieved by rolling your own compilation pipeline of:
1. run llc or the equivalent to make a .s in a temp dir
2. assemble it
3. link it to make a dylib in the temp dir
4. dlopen it
5. use dladdr to get the function pointer for your code

1 and 2 can already be done in memory with LLVM.

3 cannot, and doesn't look like it is on anyone's roadmap.

I think 4 may become possible on OS X, and there's this feature
request for glibc that essentially implements "dlopen from memory":

5 is trivial.

Even a prototype of this initial JIT model that uses temporaries on
the filesystem would be useful for JIT users doing debugging or

I don't really have time to implement this.  I'm just kicking the
proverbial can down the road.  I may file a feature request PR or
write up something in the style of sabre's LLVMNotes:


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