[llvm-commits] Vectors of Pointers and Vector-GEP

Rotem, Nadav nadav.rotem at intel.com
Wed Nov 23 12:09:42 PST 2011


Thanks for the quick review! Here is a short description (design) of where I am going with this patch:

1. Motivation: Vectors-of-pointers is the first step in supporting scatter/gather instructions (available in AVX2, for example). I believe that this feature was requested on the mailing list before. As mentioned by Hal Finkel earlier today, this feature is desired by autovectorizers as it simplifies the abstraction. I can also mention the Intel OpenCL Autovectorizer and ISPC as two other vectorizers which would benefit from this type. 

2. The type Vectors-of-pointers is similar to the pointer type, in the sense that it cannot be bit-casted and it has no size. It supports the following conversions:
	a. Bitcast to other vector-of-pointers, as long as the element count is the same. 
	b. No other bit-cast operations are allowed.  
3. The type Vectors-of-pointers can be used by the following instructions:
	a. Insertelement/extractelement/shuffle - just like any other vector
	b. Getelementptr - for address calculations, with the restrictions mentioned below.
	c. Intrinsics - to implement the scatter/gather operations
	d. IntToPtr, PtrToInt - for conversion to vectors of integers [This is not implemented in this patch].
4. The getelementptr instruction can be used to access structs, which may cause a problem for vector-geps when accessing different fields. Currently I limit the use of vector-gep to vectors of pointers with a single index. In the future, I may add support for more indices if users of the vector-gep would request for it. Matt Pharr from ISPC also requested support for vectors of arrays, which are not supported at this point. 
5. The getelementptr indices must all be vectors, if the pointer operand is a vector of pointers. 

Regarding your specific comments, Vectors of pointers are a new type in LLVM, so I believe that any predictable and sensible behavior is acceptable. Much like pointers, 'getBitWidth' should return zero. In my current patch bitcasting of one vector pointer to another vector pointer of the same length is okay, but any other bitcast is invalid. I added an assert to getInteger to prevent calling 'getInteger' on vectors of pointers. I agree that IntToPtr and PtrToInt need to be extended in order to support vectors of pointers and I plan to add this.

Thank you,


-----Original Message-----
From: llvm-commits-bounces at cs.uiuc.edu [mailto:llvm-commits-bounces at cs.uiuc.edu] On Behalf Of Duncan Sands
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 11:36
To: llvm-commits at cs.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: [llvm-commits] Vectors of Pointers and Vector-GEP

Hi Nadav,

> Following the discussion in last week's LLVM developers conference I started
> working on support for vectors-of-pointers. Vectors of pointers are needed for
> supporting scatter/gather operations and are the first step in the direction of
> supporting predicated architectures. In the attached patch, I change the LLVM-IR
> in order to support vectors-of-pointers and added basic support for vector-gep.
> In following patches I plan to extend the vector-gep support to more indices and
> add scatter/gather intrinsics.

one of the issues with vectors-of-pointers is then you can no longer say what
the size of a vector is without target data, since you don't know what the size
of a pointer is without target data.  Methods like VectorType::getBitWidth will
have to be deleted.  Methods like VectorType::getTruncatedElementVectorType,
VectorType::getExtendedElementVectorType and VectorType::getInteger will need to
either be removed, or changed to take a target data parameter (which is probably
a layering violation, so they would need to be moved elsewhere).  The PtrToInt
and IntToPtr operations will need to be enhanced to work on vectors, and a
bunch of places that bitcast vectors will need to become more careful, in case
they are trying to bitcast between a vector of pointers and a vector of

Ciao, Duncan.
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