[cfe-dev] [llvm-dev] RFC: Implementing the Swift calling convention in LLVM and Clang

John McCall via cfe-dev cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Mar 3 09:36:39 PST 2016

> On Mar 3, 2016, at 2:00 AM, Renato Golin <renato.golin at linaro.org> wrote:
> On 2 March 2016 at 20:03, John McCall <rjmccall at apple.com> wrote:
>> We don’t need to.  We don't use the intermediary convention’s rules for aggregates.
>> The Swift rule for aggregate arguments is literally “if it’s too complex according to
>> <foo>, pass it indirectly; otherwise, expand it into a sequence of scalar values and
>> pass them separately”.  If that means it’s partially passed in registers and partially
>> on the stack, that’s okay; we might need to re-assemble it in the callee, but the
>> first part of the rule limits how expensive that can ever get.
> Right. My worry is, then, how this plays out with ARM's AAPCS.
> As you said below, you *have* to interoperate with C code, so you will
> *have* to interoperate with AAPCS on ARM.

I’m not sure of your point here.  We don’t use the Swift CC to call C functions.
It does not matter, at all, whether the frontend lowering of an aggregate under
the Swift CC resembles the frontend lowering of the same aggregate under AAPCS.

I brought up interoperation with C code as a counterpoint to the idea of globally
reserving a register.

> AAPCS's rules on aggregates are not simple, but they also allow part
> of it in registers, part on the stack. I'm guessing you won't have the
> same exact rules, but similar ones, which may prove harder to
> implement than the former.

>> That’s pretty sub-optimal compared to just returning in registers.  Also, most
>> backends do have the ability to return small structs in multiple registers already.
> Yes, but not all of them can return more than two, which may constrain
> you if you have both error and context values in a function call, in
> addition to the return value.

We do actually use a different swiftcc calling convention in IR.  I don’t see any
serious interop problems here.  The “intermediary” convention is just the original
basis of swiftcc on the target.

>> I don’t understand what you mean here.  The out-parameter is still explicit in
>> LLVM IR.  Nothing about this is novel, except that C frontends generally won’t
>> combine indirect results with direct results.
> Sorry, I had understood this, but your reply (for some reason) made me
> think it was a hidden contract, not an explicit argument. Ignore me,
> then. :)
>> Right.  The backend isn’t great about removing memory operations that survive to it.
> Precisely!
>> Swift does not run in an independent environment; it has to interact with
>> existing C code.  That existing code does not reserve any registers globally
>> for this use.  Even if that were feasible, we don’t actually want to steal a
>> register globally from all the C code on the system that probably never
>> interacts with Swift.
> So, as Reid said, usage of built-ins might help you here.
> Relying on LLVM's ability to not mess up your fiddling with variable
> arguments seems unstable. Adding specific attributes to functions or
> arguments seem too invasive.

I’m not sure why you say that.  We already do have parameter ABI override
attributes with target-specific behavior in LLVM IR: sret and inreg.

I can understand being uneasy with adding new swiftcc-specific attributes, though.
It would be reasonable to make this more general.  Attributes can be parameterized;
maybe we could just say something like abi(“context”), and leave it to the CC to
interpret that?

Having that sort of ability might make some special cases easier for C lowering,
too, come to think of it.  Imagine an x86 ABI that — based on type information
otherwise erased by the conversion to LLVM IR — sometimes returns a float in
an SSE register and sometimes on the x86 stack.  It would be very awkward to
express that today, but some sort of abi(“x87”) attribute would make it easy.

> So a solution would be to add a built-in
> in the beginning of the function to mark those arguments as special.
> Instead of alloca %a + load -> store + return, you could have
> llvm.swift.error.load(%a) -> llvm.swift.error.return(%a), which
> survives most of middle-end passes intact, and a late pass then change
> the function to return a composite type, either a structure or a
> larger type, that will be lowered in more than one register.
> This makes sure error propagation won't be optimised away, and that
> you can receive the error in any register (or even stack), but will
> always return it in the same registers (ex. on ARM, R1 for i32, R2+R3
> for i64, etc).
> I understand this might be far off what you guys did, and I'm not
> trying to re-write history, just brainstorming a bit.
> IMO, both David and Richard are right. This is likely not a huge deal
> for the CC code, but we'd be silly not to take this opportunity to
> make it less fragile overall.

The lowering required for this would be very similar to the lowering that Manman’s
patch does for swift-error: the backend basically does special value
propagation.  The main difference is that it’s completely opaque to the middle-end
by default instead of looking like a load or store that ordinary memory optimizations
can handle.  That seems like a loss, since those optimizations would actually do
the right thing.


More information about the cfe-dev mailing list