[cfe-dev] [RFC][HIPSPV] Emitting HIP device code as SPIR-V

Henry Linjamäki via cfe-dev cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
Sun Aug 8 23:57:06 PDT 2021

Hi all,

HIP is a C++ Runtime API and kernel language that allows developers to
create portable applications for AMD and NVIDIA GPUs from a single
source code [0]. There are also projects for running HIP code on Intel
GPU platforms via the Intel Level Zero API [1] called HIPLZ [3] and
HIPCL [2], which runs HIP programs in OpenCL devices with certain
advanced features supported. Both of these backends consume SPIR-V

We are proposing a patch set to be upstreamed that enables SPIR-V
emission through the HIP code path. The end goal of the patches to be
submitted is to emit SPIR-V binaries from HIP device code so it can be
embedded into executables for OpenCL-like environments (at least for
starters). Our current focus is on the two above-mentioned projects,
HIPCL and HIPLZ which are both work-in-progress HIP
implementations. They itself do not consume SPIR-V, but the device
binaries are handed over to the OpenCL and Intel Level Zero APIs,

Coarsely, the current process of translating the HIP code to SPIR-V in
LLVM/Clang involves:

* Retargeting HIP device code generation to the SPIR-V target.
* Mapping address spaces in HIP to corresponding ones in SPIR-V.
* Expanding HIP features, which can not be directly modeled in SPIR-V
  (e.g. dynamic shared memory).

The HIPSPIRV experimental branch is available at [4]. Note that it is
not yet in a state we intend to propose for upstreaming, but shaping
up the patches is a work in progress. Before proceeding to shape up
and submit the patches, we would like to get feedback for the plans we
have for upstreaming. In the following sections, we open up the above
points further and sketch our plans for changes to LLVM (mostly to the
Clang tool) to achieve the goal.

Retargeting device codegen

For making the HIP toolchain to emit and embed SPIR-V we are
tentatively planning the following changes to the LLVM/Clang:

* Introduce, at minimum, a 'spirv64' architecture type in Triple. This
  is what the SPIR-V backend [5] (SPIR-V BE) effort is planning to
  upstream. We would like to upstream this change in advance to
  specify the HIP SPIR-V device code target, potentially before the
  SPIR-V BE work lands.

* Implement a new SPIRVTargetInfo and fill it with necessary
  information. For HIPCL/-LZ we are planning to adjust the address
  space mapping in a way which is discussed later in the ‘address
  space mapping’ section.

* Introduce a clang option to override the HIP device code target. We
  are interested in the option ‘--offload=<target>’ discussed in the
  'Unified offload option for CUDA/HIP/OpenMP'-thread [6]. This option
  would suit this use case well. As far as we know, the subject has
  not advanced further from the discussion - is anyone working on it?

* Compilation driver:

  HIP offload builder is changed to retrieve the offload device target
  from the --offload option. If it is not present, it can fall back to
  AMD's default target for avoiding changing the current default HIP
  compilation behavior.

  Temporarily change Driver to force clang to emit LLVM bitcode for
  SPIR-V targets in the backend compilation phase. Otherwise, the
  compilation will fail due to the lack of the real SPIR-V BE in many
  parts of the code. Reworked HIPToolChain takes care of translating
  the bitcode to SPIR-V during the linking phase. When the SPIR-V BE
  lands in LLVM, we can revert this change.

* Introduce ’hipspv’ as an OS or environment type in Triple. The
  primary and the current use of the type is to select device offload
  toolchain for HIPCL/-LZ.

* Implement a new toolchain class 'HIPSPVToolChain' in clang which is
  selected when the HIP device target is specified to be
  ‘spirv64-unknown-hipspv’ with the --offload option. Since the SPIR-V
  BE might not land in LLVM soon, we will set up the compilation flow
  to produce the SPIR-V binary by using the LLVM-SPIR-V translator [7]
  which is used in our experimental branch.

  One important thing the toolchain does is to run one or several LLVM
  IR passes, which are needed by the HIPCL/LZ runtime, on the final
  fully linked device bitcode. The passes are required to be run
  during link time - all user specified device code and HIPCL/LZ
  device library routines have to be visible when the passes are
  run. The reason for the requirement is explained in the 'HIP code
  expansion' section. HIPSPVToolChain will use the opt tool for
  running the passes at link time.

* Currently, HIPToolChain is derived from ROCmToolchain and its long
  chain of super classes (AMDGPUToolChain, Generic_ELF and
  Generic_GCC). The new upstreamed target would not logically belong
  under the AMDGPU/ROCm family so it does not make sense to derive the
  HIPCL toolchain from the HIP toolchain. Therefore, we propose to:

  - Create a new base HIP tool chain, 'BaseHIPToolChain' or just
    'HIPToolChain', derived directly from ToolChain and put any
    HIP-related code that is common or that can be reused in the
    derived toolchains there.

  - Derive a new HIPSPVToolChain from HIPToolChain.

  - Rebase the HIPToolChain under the HIPToolChain and rename it to
    HIPAMDToolChain. Since the current HIPToolChain depends on methods
    in the super classes (e.g. AMDGPUToolChain’s getParsedTargetID)
    the rebased class is planned to be a proxy class to avoid code
    duplication and to reduce the amount of changes. Another option to
    refactor the current HIPToolChain would be to use multiple
    heritance but that leads to dreaded diamond class structure which
    probably is not a great choice.

  With the current plan, HIPToolChain is not going to have much code
  to be shared with the derived classes - so far only a bit of the
  “fat binary” construction code is in sight for sharing, so the
  immediate gains for the effort seems small. However, The TC’s layout
  is more logical and it may spark more HIP implementations, as well
  as help refactoring when going forward.

Address space mapping

Translating HIP device code to valid SPIR-V binary requires tweaks on

Pointers without address space (AS) qualification in HIP programs are
considered “flat” pointers - they can point to function local,
__device__, __shared__ and __constant__ memory space dynamically,
which matches the idea of ‘generic’ pointers introduced in OpenCL
2.0. Therefore, the logical choice for the flat pointers is to map
them to generic pointers of SPIR-V’s OpenCL environment. HIPCL’s and
HIPLZ’s SPIR-V environment mandates that the kernel pointer parameters
must point to __global, __local or __constant memory (these are named
differently in SPIR-V; using OpenCL names as they are more
familiar). So HIP pointer parameters in the HIP kernel (__global__)
functions would be mapped to global pointers. Otherwise, HIP pointers
with AS qualifiers are mapped to SPIR-V equivalent, if suitable.

Now, there are significant differences between HIP’s __constant__ and
SPIR-V/OpenCL’s constant address space:

* In HIP, __constant__ globals can be altered on the host side with
  the hipMemcpyToSymbol() API function. In the OpenCL’s host API you
  cannot do this.

  (Side-note: OpenCL host API does not have an equivalent method for
  hipMemcpyToSymbol but HIPCL currently supports hipMemcpyToSymbol for
  the global __global variables via Intel’s
  clGetDeviceGlobalVariablePointerINTEL API extension, but we are
  planning to inject shadow kernel commands that access the global
  variables instead for portability.)

* In HIP flat pointers can point to __constant__ memory. In OpenCL
  this is not the case with __generic pointers, which means __constant
  pointers cannot be casted to __generic pointers and vice versa.

There are a couple ways to deal with constants:

* Map __constant__ to __global space in SPIR-V. That way we can
  generate code that works and is simple to implement. Of course, we
  lose the optimization/placing benefits of constant memory.

* Transform the code after clang codegen (by an LLVM pass) by
  converting the __constant objects to kernel arguments. This covers
  the hipMemcpyToSymbol() case. There is still the constant-to-generic
  cast issue, so we would have to use the previous point as the

We plan to start by upstreaming the first option, and time permitting,
improve by implementing the second option.

The planned changes to Clang to achieve the aforementioned AS mapping
are as follows:

* Define address space mapping in the new, aforementioned
  SPIRVTargetInfo to map CUDA address spaces (which the HIP reuses) to
  do the mapping mentioned earlier. Default AS (0) used for the flat
  pointers are mapped to the SPIR-V’s ‘generic’. We intend this
  mapping being enabled when the language mode is HIP.

* Change SPIRABIInfo to coerce kernel AS-unqualified pointer arguments
  to __global ones. Pointer arguments in regular device functions
  receive the __generic AS qualifier via the address space mapping
  defined in SPIRVTargetInfo in the above point.

HIP code expansion

There are features in HIP language which do not have direct
counterparts in SPIR-V’s OpenCL environment and those features need to
be rewritten before translation to SPIR-V (in the future, lowering to
SPIR-V machine code through the new BE). The non-exhaustive list of
features that need to be expanded includes:

* Dynamic shared memory allocation (DSM): It is an array which is
  declared globally in LLVM IR and its actual size determined at
  kernel launch. OpTypeRuntimeArray in SPIR-V is the closest thing to
  model this object, alas, it requires shader capability.

* abort() builtin: No counterpart in SPIR-V/OpenCL.
  (Note: the behavior is not well specified in the HIP spec
  either. Assuming it terminates the whole grid if any work item
  reaches it. AMD’s abort definition calls __builtin_trap).

* printf(): OpenCL’s printf takes the format string as ‘__constant__
  char*’ while in HIP the format string does not have to reside in
  constant memory.

* Texture objects. These roughly correspond to image and sampler
  objects of OpenCL combined. Also, texture objects carry more
  information for the texture functions than image+sampler objects do.

* Texture references. Same as above but these are program global
  objects. In OpenCL, image objects cannot reside in the program
  global space.

HIPCL/-LZ’s solution to the DSM allocation case is that the runtime
allocates a shared buffer and passes it to the kernel as an additional
argument (which is hidden from the user). The device code is modified
so that the DSM object is replaced with the new kernel
argument. Various other cases listed will be handled similarly:

* For the printf case we tentatively replace the printf calls with a
  function that packs their arguments to an additional buffer passed
  as additional kernel argument and do the printing on the host side.

* Texture objects will be tentatively split to image and sampler
  objects and possibly auxiliary struct to carry texture
  settings. This means at least that the kernel parameter listing
  needs to be rewritten for the Texture objects.

* For the texture reference we tentatively planned replacing the
  global texture objects also with a number of additional kernel

For this and other HIP features we need to apply LLVM IR passes to
perform modifications on the device code. In many cases the passes
should be run when the device code (as LLVM bitcode) is fully
linked. This is simply achieved as the HIP offload mechanism already
emits device code as LLVM bitcode in RDC mode (-fgpu-rdc), so during
linking we do receive the device code as LLVM bitcode where to apply
these expansions with full view of the device code.

The current plan for implementing this is to make the HIPSPVToolChain
to build a linker that uses llvm-link for linking device code, opt for
running the IR passes needed and the external llvm-spirv tool (llc in
the future when the SPIR-V BE lands) for emitting the SPIR-V
binary. We load the passes from a path the user provides
via --hip-link-pass-path (name pending) or automatically from HIP
runtime’s installation location by using the search logic provided by

There is interest in upstreaming the HIPCL/-LZ passes from the
HIPCL/-LZ repositories in the future for reduced maintenance
burden. However, we are not attempting to upstream them initially, as
they are not yet completed and are subject to rapid changes. Question
is: Where should the passes eventually be put in within the LLVM
project tree? Could it be OK to add a new directory under Clang for
tool chain passes?


We will provide llvm-lit tests for our toolchain in the upstream. We
also want to add tests to make sure clang who will run the HIPCL/-LZ
runtime passes get run at device code link time. For this we need a
dummy pass plugin that the clang loads during the test.

When the new LLVM SPIR-V BE work lands on LLVM, we will add SPIR-V
assembly checks that are relevant for HIPSPV.


[0]: https://rocmdocs.amd.com/en/latest/Programming_Guides/Programming-Guides.html
[1]: https://spec.oneapi.com/level-zero/latest/index.html
[2]: https://github.com/cpc/hipcl
[3]: https://github.com/jz10/anl-gt-gpu
[4]: https://github.com/parmance/llvm-project/tree/hip2spirv-v5
[5]: https://github.com/KhronosGroup/LLVM-SPIRV-Backend
[6]: https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/cfe-dev/2020-December/067362.html
[7]: https://github.com/KhronosGroup/SPIRV-LLVM-Translator

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