[llvm-dev] extending liveness of 'this' pointer via FAKE_USE opcode

Pieb, Wolfgang via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Sep 21 11:16:43 PDT 2015


At Sony we've seen some serious customer interest in having the 'this' pointer visible throughout an entire function during
debugging. However, optimizations may eliminate it after its last use, so we've been looking for a way to artificially extend its
liverange to the end of the function.

So far, the most compelling way we can think of, and one we have used successfully in the past in at least one other compiler,
is to create a 'fake use' of the 'this' pointer at the end of the function, compelling the rest of the compiler to not optimize it away.

At the moment there doesn't seem to be a good way to create such a fake use in LLVM (please enlighten us if you know of one), so we are
proposing to introduce a new intrinsic (e.g. llvm.fake_use), which would take a single value argument, representing a use of that value.
The intrinsic would be lowered to a new invariant TargetOpcode (e.g. FAKE_USE), which serves the same purpose at the MI level.
Code emission would simply ignore the new opcode.

Frontends could use the intrinsic to extend liveranges of variables as desired. As a first use case, clang would accept a new option
(e.g. -fkeep-this-ptr) which would cause a fake use of 'this' to be inserted at the end of a function, making it available for inspection
throughout the entire function body.

One important note is that since such an option would affect code generation, it cannot be automatically enabled by -g. However, should there be
eventually support for a -Og mode (optimize for debugging), that mode could enable it.

Any comments or alternative ideas are appreciated.
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