[llvm-dev] Allowing virtual registers after register allocation

Derek Schuff via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Wed Jan 13 15:32:42 PST 2016

We had some additional discussion on this. There is a lot of concern
generally about post-RA passes which do not expect to have to handle
virtual registers; specifically if they unexpectedly start seeing virtual
registers, or if they work today but start making assumptions in the
future. We discussed considering a mechanism that would require
MachineFunctionPasses to "opt-in" and declare that they support virtual
registers; this could be enforced via an assert or whatever, and it would
be clear and obvious (both for new and existing passes) whether a pass
should expect to deal with vregs or not. This kind of thing might also be
useful for the purposes MachineRegisterInfo::isSSA() and/or
MachineRegisterInfo::tracksLiveness() serve as well

I've been experimenting with such a mechanism (the details of how it would
be implemented could be a separate discussion) with X86 and WebAssembly,
and looking at what passes run, what would need to be modified, the effects
of disabling them, etc.

Currently the following target-independent passes run after register
allocation (ordered and categorized according to how they appear in

OptimizedRegAlloc: (run only if there is a RegAllocPass, which is not true
for wasm)
Machine late optimization:
ImplicitNullChecks (optional)
PostMachineScheduler or PostRAScheduler
 GC info printer
Block Placement:

All of the pre-regalloc passes (and analyses) would just get marked as
supporting virtual registers.

Here are some notes about passes of interest:

PostRAMachineLICM (if not overriden by the target) is just the same
MachineLICM which runs before regalloc and so handles vregs already.

PrologEpilogInserter has some analysis phases (calculating CSR and frame
information, assigning spill slots, calculating frame offsets) and some
code insertion phases (inserting CSR spills/restores and prologs/epilogs,
eliminating FrameIndex), and finally a scavenging phase. Any of the
insertion phases can introduce virtual new registers, after which all
subsequent phases must be prepared to handle them. So it might make sense
to declare that this pass must support vregs anyway, or try to split it up
or otherwise more clearly define which parts must or need not have that

BranchFolder already handles vregs. A comment at the top of the file
mentions that it should stay that way (suggesting that it was fixed up for
NVPTX), but that it can't handle SSA.

TailDuplicate is currently disabled for wasm via

MachineCopyPropagation: currently has checks (even for release builds) that
there are no vregs, and is currently disabled manually for wasm and NVPTX.

ExpandPostRAPseudos has 2 parts: LowerSubregToReg expects only physregs and
has asserts to ensure it.
LowerCopy simply calls TargetInstrInfo::copyPhysReg() to emit the
instructions for lowering COPYs (wasm's implementation of copyPhysReg()
just handles vregs) and is otherwise agnostic.

MachineBlockPlacement doesn't do anything at all to any MachineInstrs
itself, but just relies on TargetInstrInfo methods to update the branches.

I'll post again later with the prototype code.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 3:52 PM Derek Schuff <dschuff at google.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 2:46 PM Matthias Braun via llvm-dev <
> llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>> To say this first: This whole discussion about using virtregs until emit
>> or having growable physregs is hard to argue without actually having
>> experience trying to go either way.
> Indeed, we are accumulating exactly this experience now, having started
> with VRegs, as that seems like a more natural fit conceptually. The problem
> is that we are essentially blocked on this (obviously lack of
> PEI/frameindex elimination blocks a lot of things) so in order to make
> further progress and get further experience we will need either a simple
> change something like the one proposed or to do what NVPTX did and just
> make our own copy of PEI.
>> Problems when using virtregs throughout the backend until emit time:
>> - The MC layer is using MCPhysReg (which is an uint16_t) and would need
>> retrofitting to support virtregs
>> - VirtRegs are assumed to have a definition, physregs can appear "out of
>> thin air" in some situations like function parameters, or exception objects
>> appearing in a register when going to a landingpad.
> This is what Dan is trying to address with http://reviews.llvm.org/D14750.
> The discussion on that change is essentially the same as the one going on
> here.
>> - VirtRegs are assumed to be interchangeable, replaceing vreg5 with
>> vreg42 shouldn't affect the program semanic (given they both have the same
>> register class and we have no other defs/uses of vreg42), if you use
>> virtregs for parameter passing this won't be true anymore
> I believe this would be addressed for wasm with a mechanism like that in
> D14750 (or the current special ARGUMENT pseudos we have now) in combination
> with the fact that we remap the virtual registers into a different number
> space in a way that takes the arguments into account, just before emission.
> - regmask clobbers only affect physregs
>> (- You cannot reuse the existing regalloc infrastructure, but IMO that's
>> not a good idea anyway for virtual ISAs)
> Agreed.
>> Problems when allowing the dynamic creation of physregs:
>> - The current assumption of all register being known at tbalegen time
>> will mean that we probably need bigger changes to support dynamically
>> growing physreg lists and it may take a while until we have flushed out all
>> places that relied on a fixed-register number assumption.
> This seems like a really big deal to me; plus a lot of the discussion
> above e.g. with regard to what the behavior of the pysical register
> classes, is about properties which are really only relevant for register
> allocation (and again I think we agree that we probably don't want to be
> using the normal register allocator anyway).
>> - You probably do not want to compute/modify some information like
>> register class subsets/supersets. However as far as I can see we do not
>> need subregister support for the virtual ISA usecase and may be fine just
>> not allowing the combination of subregs with dynamic physreg creation.
>> I think you are right.
>> Non-Issues:
>> - Liveness calculation should work as well with virtregs as with physregs
>> All in all it seems to me like using virtregs until emission time may
>> take less engineering effort to a point where it is 95% working, but will
>> be a pain to maintain in the long term because we suddenly have physreg
>> like semantics on virtregs for some targets (but not for "normal" ones).
>  Perhaps it would be worthwhile to flesh out a bit more precisely what
> semantics are required.
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