[llvm-dev] RFC: We should stop merging allocas in the inliner

Xinliang David Li via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Tue Aug 2 15:01:38 PDT 2016

On Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 2:32 PM, Chandler Carruth <chandlerc at gmail.com>

> Sorry I missed these comments in my first read through David.
> On Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 1:06 AM Xinliang David Li via llvm-dev <
> llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>> On Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 9:47 PM, Chandler Carruth via llvm-dev <
>> llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>>> Thoughts? The code changes are easy and mechanical. My plan would be:
>> There is one caveat: stop doing stack merging in inliner will change the
>> inliner cost analysis which may have affect inlining decisions and
>> performance in an unexpected way.  For instance, the allocatedSize estimate
>> won't be as accurate due to double counting.
> There is the possibility of this, but I think it is relatively unlikely
> for a few reasons.
> The first is that I don't think the alloca merging is helping that much
> here. Specifically, we only merge certain kinds of allocas and we only
> merge them in fairly limited cases. So if the thresholds were very
> sensitive to this, I would expect us to have seen these thresholds blocking
> things more often than we have.
> Also, as you mention, there are two places we might hit this. One is due
> to the increased number of alloca instructions causing skew in the inline
> cost. I think we should "fix" this by stopping counting *static* alloca
> instructions for the purpose of inline cost estimation. I think this will
> be a net win. The alloca instructions are completely synthetic when static.
> All of them will be folded into a single stack adjustment that is even
> shared with register spills etc. I think we should model them as free.
> (Clearly, *dynamic* alloca instructions are different here!) But I don't
> think this is likely enough to be urgent to fix. I think we could do both
> changes in parallel.

Yes, I agree with this. In fact, not only should we not model static alloca
as 'cost', if we have not already model them as part of the call overhead
(stack pointer adjustment in prologue), we should probably also model all
static allocas collectively in the callee as potential savings after
inlining.    If you don't have time to get to it (at least the first part),
Easwaran can probably help with this adjustment.

> The other limit is the allocated size limit, and I think that is the more
> likely issue (it sounds like it was the one you were worried about as
> well). This one might be an issue, but I also think we can adjust it pretty
> freely. The goal of this limit, from my recollection of when it went in, is
> more to avoid run-away stack bloating, and the value of the limit is
> somewhat arbitrary. And it only impacts inlining into recursive functions.
> So I'm less worried about this in general. If it proves to be a problem in
> practice, we can do something about it, and if that happens it would
> probably be good to know because we shouldn't be relying on merging to
> model this anyways.
The current limit (for recursive caller) is indeed arbitrary, but I am more
worried about a more general case which applies to any deep call chains: we
may want to implement heuristic to throttle inlining in general due to
excessive stack frame growth. For this reason, the tracking of stack size
need to match closely to actual stack usage -- otherwise we end up in
either missing inlinings or runtime errors (due to out of stack problem).

One way to solve this without requiring merging is to track the current
node's frame size by combining the caller's original stack size plus the
max of its callee's frame size (not sum).

>>> 1) Add a flag to turn this off.
>>> 2) Run benchmarks with flag to make sure things are actually working.
>>> 3) Change default for the flag, make sure chaos doesn't ensue.
>>> 4) Delete the (quite substantial) complexity associated with this and
>>> the flag.
>> The code handling the merging seems to be in an isolated place with <100
>> lines of code. While I agree this change may be something good to do in
>> principle -- are there any practical reason for doing this?
> Yes, its complexity which is better addressed by another layer. Every
> piece of complexity, especially in something like the inliner, makes it
> harder to change and reason about. I'm trying to minimize and isolate the
> complex parts of the iniliner in preparation to porting it to the new pass
> manager. This seemed like low-hanging fruit.
>> you mentioned information loss (aliasing, sanitizer etc) -- are there any
>> real issues caused by the merging (with tracking bugs)?
> I don't have any, but I also don't think we should wait for bugs to come
> up to make principled changes to the compiler, especially those that are
> simplifying!

thanks. I just wanted to understand the motivation for the change, which
you provided.

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