[LLVMdev] Appending linkage

Kenneth Uildriks kennethuil at gmail.com
Mon Sep 28 06:58:55 PDT 2009

On Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 3:08 AM, Talin <viridia at gmail.com> wrote:
> This is an issue I raised a while ago, but I wanted to know if the situation
> had improved at all recently.
> The issue is determining the number of elements in an array that has
> appending linkage.
> The obvious course would be to use a constant GEP. Suppose we have N
> modules, each containing a global variable with appending linkage whose
> initializer is an array of size M containing elements of type T. Within each
> module the type of the variable should be [M x T]*. After linking, the
> appended array would have N * M elements, so it's type should be [(N*M) x
> T]*. Therefore a GEP of indices (0, 1) ought to dereference the pointer and
> point to the end of the array. Calculating the array size would be a simple
> matter of subtracting the pointer to the end from the pointer to the
> beginning.
> However, this does not work. The GEP always behaves as if it were operating
> on the array before appending - so the GEP gives you back a pointer to the
> Mth element, not the NxMth element. Note that I also tried just GEP (1),
> which gives a similar result, although I would expect it not to work at all,
> since pointers are only supposed to be dereferenced with an index of 0.
> When I look at the generated bitcode, I see that the appended array does
> indeed have a type of [(N*M) x T]*, but the "end" pointer initializer
> bitcasts the result to [1 x T] (if I use GEP 0 1) or [M x T] (if I use GEP
> 1) before doing the GEP. And I did not put that cast there.
> The previous time I brought this up, there were several solutions suggested,
> all of which involved writing a custom link pass that would either place a
> sentinel value at the end of the array, or would store the count of array
> elements in some other variable. Well, I did this, but it only works for
> arrays that the linker has special knowledge of - that is, I don't want to
> just blindly start modifying every appending linkage symbol, so I have to
> have some means to tell the linker which arrays require special processing.
> For now it's just a list of hard-coded symbol names, but that means that
> every time I add another appending linkage array to the runtime library, I
> have to go and modify the linker program.
> I'd like to find a more general solution to this problem. Or at least have
> someone tell me that I am doing something wrong.

I bumped up against the same problem, and ended up using linked lists
instead.  I'd have a pointer to the beginning of the list, and each
module that added to the list would update that pointer in its global

I suppose I could have used an appending array and had the global init
for each module that appended add to a length field defined alongside

I think appending linkage works the same way with the ordinary
(native) linker.  How do C programmers usually work with it?

More information about the llvm-dev mailing list