[LLVMdev] RFC - Improvements to PGO profile support

Philip Reames listmail at philipreames.com
Fri Mar 6 17:49:36 PST 2015

On 03/05/2015 08:29 AM, Bob Wilson wrote:
>> On Mar 2, 2015, at 4:19 PM, Diego Novillo <dnovillo at google.com 
>> <mailto:dnovillo at google.com>> wrote:
>> On Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 6:54 PM, Diego Novillo <dnovillo at google.com 
>> <mailto:dnovillo at google.com>> wrote:
>>     I've created a few bugzilla issues with details of some of the
>>     things I'll be looking into. I'm not yet done wordsmithing the
>>     overall design document. I'll try to finish it by early next week
>>     at the latest.
>> The document is available at
>> https://docs.google.com/document/d/15VNiD-TmHqqao_8P-ArIsWj1KdtU-ElLFaYPmZdrDMI/edit?usp=sharing 
>> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/15VNiD-TmHqqao_8P-ArIsWj1KdtU-ElLFaYPmZdrDMI/edit?usp=sharing>
>> There are several topics covered. Ideally, I would prefer that we 
>> discuss each topic separately. The main ones I will start working on 
>> are the ones described in the bugzilla links we have in the doc.
>> This is just a starting point for us. I am not at all concerned with 
>> implementing exactly what is proposed in the document. In fact, if we 
>> can get the same value using the existing support, all the better.
>> OTOH, any other ideas that folks may have that work better than this 
>> are more than welcome. I don't have really strong opinions on the 
>> matter. I am fine with whatever works.
> Thanks for the detailed write-up on this. Some of the issues 
> definitely need to be addressed. I am concerned, though, that some of 
> the ideas may be leading toward a scenario where we have essentially 
> two completely different ways of representing profile information in 
> LLVM IR. It is great to have two complementary approaches to 
> collecting profile data, but two representations in the IR would not 
> make sense.
> The first issue raised is that profile execution counts are not 
> represented in the IR. This was a very intentional decision. I know it 
> goes against what other compilers have done in the past. It took me a 
> while to get used to the idea when Andy first suggested it, so I know 
> it seems awkward at first. The advantage is that branch probabilities 
> are much easier to keep updated in the face of compiler 
> transformations, compared to execution counts. We are definitely 
> missing the per-function execution counts that are needed to be able 
> to compare relative “hotness” across functions, and I think that would 
> be a good place to start making improvements. In the long term, we 
> should keep our options open to making major changes, but before we go 
> there, we should try to make incremental improvements to fix the 
> existing infrastructure.
> Many of the other issues you raise seem like they could also be 
> addressed without major changes to the existing infrastructure. Let’s 
> try to fix those first.
After reading the document, I agree with Bob's perspective here.

I would strongly recommend that you start with the optimizations than 
can be implemented within the current framework.  The current 
infrastructure gives a fairly reasonable idea of relative hotness within 
a function.  There's a lot to be done to exploit that information (even 
in the inliner!) without resorting to cross function analysis.  If, 
after most of those have been implemented, we need more fundamental 
changes we could consider them.  Starting with a fundamental rewrite of 
the profiling system within LLVM seems like a mistake.

At a meta level, as someone who uses LLVM for JITing I would be opposed 
to a system that assumed consistent profiling counts across function 
boundaries and gave up on relative hotness information.  At least if I'm 
understanding your proposal, this would *completely break* a 
multi-tiered JIT.  In practice, you generally stop collecting 
instrumentation profiling once something is compiled at a high enough 
tier.  When compiling it's caller, you'll get very deceptive results if 
you rely on the execution counts to line up across functions.  On the 
other hand, merging two relative hotness profiles by scaling based on 
the hotness of the callsite works out quite well in practice.  You can 
use some information about global hotness to make decisions, but those 
decisions need to be resilient to such systematic under-counting.

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