[llvm-dev] Intel MPX support (instrumentation pass similar to gcc's Pointer Checker)

Dmitrii Kuvaiskii via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Wed Feb 3 06:27:24 PST 2016

I continue playing with Intel MPX and its support in modern compilers.
All experiments were done on the Alienware (Dell) 15 R2, Ubuntu 15.10
(linux 4.2.0), gcc version is 5.2.1, icc version 2016.1.150. The
benchmark suite is PARSEC 3.0, all versions with 1 thread and default

As I described previously, PointerChecker in gcc produces very
inefficient code. My experiments show overheads over native of up to
9.5X (on "raytrace"), with common overheads of 3X ("bodytrack",
"fluidanimate", "streamcluster"). At the same time, AddressSanitizer
performs much better -- 1.3X on "raytrace", 1.7X on "bodytrack" and so

Recently I played with MPX support on Intel C/C++ Compiler (icc). This
implementation looks *much* better, with the following example
overheads: 1.2X on "raytrace", 1.25X on "bodytrack", 1.08X on
"streamcluster". So the common overheads are in the range of 15%-25%!

Please note that gcc-mpx and gcc-asan versions were compared against
gcc-native, and icc-mpx version was compared against icc-native.

We would like to compile a small technical report with all our
measurements (performance and memory  overhead) and put it online.
We'll do it in the near future, I will write an update here when it's
done. Please tell me if anyone is interested in any specific
benchmarks (I want to test PARSEC and some case-studies: PostgreSQL,
Memcached, SQLite3). Any feedback is welcome.

On Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 8:29 PM, Kostya Serebryany <kcc at google.com> wrote:
> I've recently played with the GCC implementation of pointer checker on a
> real hardware,
> my recent impressions are here:
> https://github.com/google/sanitizers/wiki/AddressSanitizerIntelMemoryProtectionExtensions
> (there is also some old pre-hardware content).
> In short, I totally agree with what David says above: MPX is a disaster.
> (Usual disclaimer: my opinion here is too biased)
> I am glad that LLVM already has the support for MPX instructions, but I see
> no good reason to add the MPX-based checker to LLVM.
> Yes, it will allow us to detect intra-object overflows, something that asan
> can not do by default, but it's not worth the extreme complexity of the
> MPX-based checker.
> --kcc
> On Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 9:14 AM, David Chisnall via llvm-dev
> <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>> On 28 Jan 2016, at 17:03, Dmitrii Kuvaiskii via llvm-dev
>> <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>> >
>> > Interestingly, my
>> > preliminary experiments indicate that adding MPX bounds checking via
>> > Pointer Checker in gcc is usually slower than using software-only
>> > AddressSanitizer.
>> This corresponds with other results that I have seen.  The last time I
>> looked at the output from gcc, it also did not generate pointer updates that
>> were safe in the presence of concurrency (they must be bracketed in
>> transactions if you want the MPX metadata and the pointer updates to be
>> atomic) and the overhead of this is likely to be even more.
>> I am particularly impressed with Intel for creating a hardware
>> implementation that is both slower than a software-only version and can not
>> (due to its fail-open policy being embedded in the hardware) be used for
>> security.
>> David
>> _______________________________________________
>> LLVM Developers mailing list
>> llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
>> http://lists.llvm.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/llvm-dev

Yours sincerely,
Dmitrii Kuvaiskii

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