[LLVMdev] Can simplifycfg kill llvm.lifetime intrinsics?

Rafael EspĂ­ndola rafael.espindola at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 04:20:26 PST 2012

> Suppose you have four lifetime operations on the same address in memory,
> with loads and stores all around them:
>   start1--end1 .. start2--end2
> If you remove start1 then you have a bare pointer, the memory came from
> somewhere and you lose the optimization that loads before start1 become
> undef, but you don't miscompile.

This is assuming no looping after end1 or end2, right?

> If you remove end1 then the code between start1 and start2 is in trouble. We
> would miscompile start1+store+load+start2 by folding the load to undef.

OK, my understanding was different. I was reading that a store before
all starts was invalid. BTW, can't we handle loads and stores
uniformly? That is, we can model them as

* We ask an oracle if a memory object will be used as an argument to
llvm.lifetime.start or llvm.lifetime.end. If it is, then the address
has an extra valid bit associated with it.

* At the creation of the object (stack or heap allocation) the bit is false.
* llvm.lifetime.start sets the bit to true. Doing it more than once is a nop.
* llvm.lifetime.end sets the bit to false.

With these rules, we can implement:

* Asan doesn't have an oracle, but can start tracking the bit when it
first gets to a llvm.lifetime.*. It can flag as invalid any operation
that touches memory with a false bit.
* Removing a llvm.lifetime.start is impossible in general, as we don't
know if some function will access that address.
* Removing a llvm.lifetime.end is always safe. It just extends the
life of the object, maybe until it is freed or the function that
called alloca returns.
* Adding a llvm.lifetime.start is always safe. It just extends the
life of the object.

> If you remove start2, we miscompile again. Accesses between start2 and end2
> could be transformed into loads of undef and dead stores, and deleted.


> Removing end2 only means that you get to assume the memory is still live
> since you haven't been told otherwise.


> So ultimately the problem is with removing either part of the end->start
> transition. We need to make sure we don't remove one of those.
> This means that the optimizer can't consider lifetime intrinsics to be
> no-ops unless it can prove it's looking at the first start or last end of
> that memory address. That's much worse than I thought it was when I first
> added these intrinsics. Sorry.

What do you think of the semantics I proposed above? I think they
still model what we want, but allow the optimizer to do any
optimizations it would do without them, as it can just add
llvm.lifetime.start and drop llvm.lifetime.end as needed.

> Nick


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