[llvm-dev] [RFC] LLVM Coroutines

Gor Nishanov via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Sun Jun 12 18:40:20 PDT 2016

Hi Sanjoy:

>> Now in the above CFG %val can be folded to 10, but in reality you need
>> a PHI of 10 and 20

Quick answer: folding %val to 10 is OK, but, I would prefer it to be 'undef'
or even catch it in the verifier as it is a programmer/frontend error.

Details are in the second half of my reply. I would like to start
with the thought experiment you suggested, as it might help to explain
the behavior a little better.

>> The thought experiment relevant here is that **could** you implement
>> your semantics with reasonable bodies for the llvm.coro intrinsics?

I can emulate **control flow** very closely with user mode thread switching
APIs like make_context, jump_context. Memory behavior not so much.

Library emulation

Let's build a fiber abstraction out of make_context, jump_context.

i1 fiber_fork(i8* %mem) - clones this function into a fiber
                          returns 0 - in a fiber
                          returns 1 - in a thread
                          uses %mem to store fiber context + fiber stack

i1 fiber_suspend()      - suspends current fiber, switches back to thread
                          stores the fiber context to be able to resume later

void fiber_join(i8* %mem i1 %val) - switches to fiber stack identified by %mem,
                          fiber_suspend will return %val when resumed

void fiber_end() noreturn
                        - switches back to a thread, does not remember fiber
                          context and does not touch %mem.
                          (Thus you can use this after %mem is freed)

Detail: fiber_fork(i8* %mem)
  * Prepares fcontext in %mem utilizing the rest of the memory for stack.
  * Saves current thread context on a current thread stack.
    (We should not store if in %mem, otherwise we won't be
     able to switch back after fiber memory is freed)
  * Sets up **current thread** context, so that when resumed it will proceed
    as if fiber_fork returned true
  * Sets up **fiber** context so that when resumed, the fiber will proceed
    as if fiber_fork returned false.
  * Clones the locals on the thread stack to a fiber stack
    (This is very approximate behavior, and won't work if we took address of
     alloca and stashed it somewhere, but let's ignore it for now as we
     are focusing on control flow)
  * Switches to fiber

Okay, let's map it to our intrinsics:

coro.fork == fiber_fork
coro.suspend == fiber_suspend
coro.end(true) == fiber_end
coro.resume = fiber_join(%mem, i1 false)
coro.destroy = fiber_join(%mem, i1 true)
coro.size == 1,000,000 (or some other big number)

Now let's walk through this example in the fiber model:

   T coro() {
       %t = alloca
       %mem = malloc(...);
       (*%t) = 10
       if (coro.fork()) { // switches to fiber at label Start
         %val = *%t // will be 10, as fiber has its own copy
         return some_code_creating_T(%val);
       Body Of The Coroutine
       With Suspends and All The Fun
       (*%t) = 15 ; // fine, copy of %t on a fiber stack updated
       (*%t) = 20 ; // undef: as the fiber memory is freed already
       coro.end(true) // switches back to the thread at ReturnBB
       UNREACHABLE // <== never reaches here. So we are honest with optimizer

Back to the LLVM based implementation

In your example, there will be a path from the block where %t is used to
where %t is defined that crosses a suspend point. Therefore %t will be part of
the coroutine frame. So before the split, the program will be transformed into:

   coro.frame = type { int %t }

   T coro() {
       %t = alloca
       %mem = malloc(...);
       %s = (coro.frame*)coro.init(%mem)
       s->%t = 10
       if (coro.fork()) {
         %val = 10 // const.prop as 10, OK, but really undef
         return some_code_creating_T(%val);
       Body Of The Coroutine
       With Suspends and All The Fun
       s->%t = 20 //// BOOM writing to freed memory

Accessing anything in the coroutine frame after coro.fork "true" is undefined.
As by the time you get to returnBB, the coroutine frame could already
be destroyed.

Both problems can be statically detected in the Verifier.

Alternatively, in CoroEarly pass that runs at EP_EarlyAsPossible extension
point, we can replace:

         %val = *%t
         %val = undef (used after coro.fork() returned true)


       (*%t) = 20
       @llvm.trap() ; used after frame is destroyed


More information about the llvm-dev mailing list