[lldb-dev] LLDB behaviour for GCed sections

Earlam, David via lldb-dev lldb-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Mar 9 03:03:32 PST 2017

Hi James,

I performed a quick experiment with clang –g –ffunction-sections and link with –gc-sections with Hexagon DSP tools based on llvm3.5.

This shows an unused function as having DW_AT_low_pc as zero as you predict:

readelf –W extract of DWARF4 .debug_info)

<1><2b7>: Abbrev Number: 11 (DW_TAG_subprogram)
     DW_AT_low_pc      : 0
     DW_AT_high_pc     : 168
     DW_AT_frame_base  :
     DW_AT_name        : (indirect string, offset: 0x1bb): not_used
     DW_AT_decl_file   : 1
     DW_AT_decl_line   : 83
     DW_AT_prototyped  : 1
     DW_AT_type        : <45d>
     DW_AT_external    : 1
     DW_AT_accessibility: 1 

Yet  lldb 3.5.0  and lldb 3.9 both appear to _not_ ignore that DWARF DIE.

(lldb) expression &not_used
(int (*)(unsigned char *, const unsigned char *, unsigned long)) $0 = 0x00000000


(lldb) breakpoint set --name not_used
Breakpoint 1: where = hexlto.elf`not_used + 20 at lto_test.c:92, address = 0x00000014

Line 92 would be the first statement after prolog in that source file - if the function were used - but address 0x14 is just wrong
as it is inside the start-up code. I assume lldb is compensating for the instruction address offset to the first statement in that removed function.

The command ‘disassemble –name not_used’ reveals the confusion - which makes it appear as though not_used() is present but does not begin with the
typical Hexagon allocframe instruction that I’d expect for C and instead shows startup code.

The newest llvm3.9 linker for Hexagon (an internal unreleased version here) sets the DW_AT_low_pc to a none zero value apparently far beyond the end of the .text extent which might be a hint
to a DWARF consumer or a mistake. 

For a DW_TAG_subprogram would n’t it be more sensible for the linker to set DW_AT_low_pc and DW_AT_high_pc to the same value for garbage collected unreferenced code?
From the DWARF definition that the high_pc - when of class ADDRESS - is beyond the end of the subprogram extent - It then clearly has no machine code.
Or for high_pc to also be set to 0 -when of class CONSTANT - it then clearly has no machine code. 

For data  objects and a Harvard architecture address 0 is however valid, as weird as that may seem to C programmers. So for the Qualcomm Kalimba DSP and the XAP RISC CPU used in 
Bluetooth devices our proprietary debuggers look for a specific address  value that we hope is greater than we ever expect to be used as a real address of any memory attached to an embedded device.

As far as I know there’s no way for DWARF to convey that  something has been optimised away except a DW_AT_location empty location list for a variable.

Of course, a linker should be able to remove the DWARF DIEs for unreferenced code and data when it garbage collects.
But I’ve not come across one that does this yet. I believe it is difficult for linker implementors because of the inter-section references and relative offsets in DWARF. 

Not tried with llvm 4.0 or lld or gold.

David Earlam
Staff-Senior[Engineer]/Manager ? Software : Development Tools() {
Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

From: lldb-dev [mailto:lldb-dev-bounces at lists.llvm.org] On Behalf Of James Henderson via lldb-dev
Sent: 06 March 2017 13:51
To: lldb-dev at lists.llvm.org
Subject: [lldb-dev] LLDB behaviour for GCed sections

I’m currently investigating the behaviour of different debuggers when functions have been stripped by the linker because they are unused. I tried looking at the source code, but couldn’t really make enough sense of it to answer the question. Would someone be able to explain what LLDB’s behaviour is when it encounters a function in debug information with an address of zero (as is the case for lld and other linker output with --gc-sections)? In particular, does it simply ignore the relevant block of debug information, as appears to be the case for gdb? I’m coming at this from a DWARF perspective, if that makes any difference.

More information about the lldb-dev mailing list