[llvm-dev] RFC: Improving Debug Information in LLVM to Recover Optimized-out Function Parameters

Ananthakrishna Sowda (asowda) via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Feb 7 10:58:24 PST 2019

Following is a proposal to improve location coverage for Function parameters in LLVM. The patches for review will be posted soon.

RFC: Improving Debug Information in LLVM to Recover Optimized-out Function Parameters 

Ananthakrishna Sowda(Cisco), asowda at cisco.com
Nikola Prica (RT-RK/Cisco), nprica at rtrk.com
Djordje Todorovic(RT-RK/Cisco), djtodorovic at rtrk.com
Ivan Baev (Cisco), ibaev at cisco.com

Overview of the problem 
Software release products are compiled with optimization level –O2 and higher. Such products might produce a core-file in case of a failure. Support engineers usually begin debug analysis by looking at the backtrace from a core-file. Unfortunately, many parameters in backtraces are reported as optimized out due to variety of reasons. This makes triaging the issue and assigning ownership harder due to missing information. It is harder for the product team to understand the cause of the failure. In summary, we are describing a well-known serviceability problem for optimized production code. 

Proposal for solution
Function parameters have a natural fall-back location which is parent frame. Debuggers can easily go up a frame in call-chain and evaluate any expression. Expert developers can find what values parameters had at function entry point by examining disassembly of caller frame at that particular function call. With additional call-site information produced by compiler, debugger can fully automate this technique. DWARF 5 specification has new tags and attributes to describe call-site parameter information [1][2]. it is already implemented in GCC and GDB since 2011[3]. We propose implementing this feature in LLVM to enhance the debugging of optimized code experience of LLVM users. 

Prior mention
An initial version of our work was presented as a poster during LLVM Developer Meeting, in San Jose, 2018. The feature is now fully implemented in internal Clang/LLVM 4.0 version.
We presented a talk on our work at FOSDEM 2019[4].

Implementation notes in Clang and LLVM
On the callee side the only information that we need is whether a parameter is never modified in the function. If true then we can use parameter’s entry value when we lose track of parameter’s location. As a natural way of handling this problem we used Clang’s Sema and its constness check to embed this information in variable’s declaration which is later used for DILocalVariable construction.

For call-site information, new DINode metadata DICallSite and DICallSiteParam are defined and these are emitted by the Clang frontend. The metadata is associated to the call or invoke IR instruction. Here is an example:

%call5 = call i32 @fed_em_strncmp(i8* %arraydecay, i8* %arraydecay1, i64 5), !dbg !114, !call_site !101
!99 = !DICallSiteParam(argno: 1, variable: !91, expr: !DIExpression())
!100 = !DICallSiteParam(argno: 2, variable: !95, expr: !DIExpression())
!101 = !DICallSite(scope: !87, file: !3, parameters: !102, line: 40, calledSubprogram: !13)
!102 = !{!99, !100, !103}
!103 = !DICallSiteParam(argno: 3, expr: !DIExpression(DW_OP_lit5)
For tracking call sites and call site parameters in backend two new pseudo instructions, DBG_CALLSITE and DBG_CALLSITEPARAM, are introduced. See the MIR code bellow:

DBG_CALLSITE 0, %noreg, <!19>; dbg:strncmp.c:40:47
          * DBG_CALLSITEPARAM %RDX,  <0x727fee0> = !DIExpression(DW_OP_lit5), 5, %noreg ; dbg:strncmp.c:40:47
          * DBG_CALLSITEPARAM %RSI, "str2" <0x71a6dd0> = !DIExpression(), %RBX, %noreg ; dbg:strncmp.c:40:47
          * DBG_CALLSITEPARAM %RDI, "str1" <0x71a6dd0> = !DIExpression(), %, %RSP, 4 ; dbg:strncmp.c:40:47

There is a challenge in ISel phase to produce them. Algorithm that collects information about call site parameters iterates over call sequence chained nodes returned from target specific call lowering interface. Goal of the algorithm is to recognize SDNodes that represent instructions which will load function arguments into registers that transfer them into another function call frame. There is a question whether this is effectively implemented as a general matching algorithm or it should be lowered to target specific level. DBG_CALLSITE pseudo instruction will need to be revisited since information whether a call is tail call or not could be extracted differently but for sake of simplicity we chose this.
Most of passes handle DBG_CALLSITE and DBG_CALLSITEPARAM through target instruction info interface method isDebugInstr(). This method is used to skip processing of pseudo debug instructions. Since these new pseudo debug instructions relay on virtual registers and frame objects we need to follow up their substitution through the compilation phases. There were several backend passes that needed special attention: Register Coalesce, Inline Spiller, Prologue Epilog Inserter, Split Kit and Virtual Register Rewriter. Virtual Register Rewriter required implementation of target specific salvaging interface for “call site parameter identities” – situation following identity copy instructions that leads to overlapping of parameter transferring register location and location that is loaded into that register.
The last challenge is to extend LiveDebugValues pass to generate additional DBG_VALUE instructions with new kind of debug expression (with ‘DW_OP_entry_value’) for parameters that meet the requirements described in [1].
Finally, emitting call-site debug information can be controlled by ‘-debugger-tune’ and ‘-dwarf-version’ LLVM code-generation flags, since not all debuggers used in the community consume this DWARF information.

Location coverage improvement
The important criteria in debugging-optimized-code is whether the compiler has location information for variables and parameters. We use ‘locstats’ utility from elfutils [5] package to guide us in improving overall location coverage in final executable. For each non-artificial variable or formal parameter - or Debugging Information Entry in DWARF - ‘locstats’ computes what percentage from the code section bytes where the variable is in scope, the variable has a non-empty location description. 100% coverage is not expected for non-global variables and function parameters, since value may not be ‘live’ through the entire scope. On the other end, 0% coverage for variables which are used in the code is indicative of compiler losing track of values.
The second column in Table 1 shows ‘locstats’ report for gdb-7.11 compiled for x86-64 with “-g –O2” by Clang 4.0. For example, there are 29476 parameters whose coverage is in 91..100% range. The third column shows locstats’ report with “-g –O2” and the parameter-entry-value feature. There are now 37671 parameters whose coverage is in 91..100% range – for a 28% improvement.
Because our implementation computes an additional location list entry to parameters whenever possible, and DW_OP_entry_value is valid through the entire scope of the parameter, the numbers at 91..100 row are relevant indication of improvement with parameter-entry-value.

Coverage	Parameters	Parameters with emit-param-entry-values
(% range)	(number/%))	(number/%)
0..10		22682/30%	21342/28%
11..20		3498/4%	2337/3%
21..30		3083/4%	1986/2%
31..40		3050/4%	1862/2%
41..50		2534/3%	1574/2%
51..60		2349/3%	1571/2%
61..70		2184/2%	1649/2%
71..80		2620/3%	2069/2%
81..90		3432/4%	2847/3%
91..100		29476/39%	37671/50%
Table 1 Location coverage statistics for function parasmeters

Improved backtrace for optimized code in debugger
Figure 1 below shows improved backtrace for optimized code when compiled with parameter entry value tracking feature. Please note the new @entry values reported for parameters in backtrace. These parameters will otherwise be reported as <optimized-out>.

gdb) bt
#0 get_next_move_from_list (list=list at entry=0x7fffffffbf88,
color=color at entry=1, moves=moves at entry=0x7fffffffbfb0,
cutoff=cutoff at entry=100) at engine/owl.c:3032
#1 0x000000000042a957 in do_owl_attack (str=<optimized out>,
move=<optimized out>, move at entry=0x7fffffffc334, wormid=<optimized out>, wormid at entry=0x7fffffffc33c, owl=<optimized out>, owl at entry=0x0,
komaster=komaster at entry=0, kom_pos=kom_pos at entry=0,escape=<optimized out>)
at engine/owl.c:1306
#2 0x000000000042a0d0 in owl_attack (target=target at entry=148,
attack_point=attack_point at entry=0x7fffffffc580, certain=<optimized out>, certain at entry=0xb63048 <dragon+11288>, kworm=kworm at entry=0x7fffffffc3c4) at engine/owl.c:1144
#3 0x0000000000412c71 in make_dragons (color=<optimized out>, color at entry=1, stop_before_owl=<optimized out>, stop_before_owl at entry=0, save_verbose=<optimized out>, save_verbose at entry=0) at engine/dragon.c:346
#4 0x0000000000417fdc in examine_position (color=color at entry=1, how_much=how_much at entry=99) at engine/genmove.c:152
#5 0x00000000004183c6 in do_genmove (move=move at entry=0x7fffffffd344, color=1, color at entry=3, pure_threat_value=<optimized out>,
allowed_moves=<optimized out>, allowed_moves at entry=0x0)
at engine/genmove.c:334
#6 0x000000000041926d in genmove_conservative (i=i at entry=0x7fffffffd36c, j=j at entry=0x7fffffffd368, color=3) at engine/genmove.c:255
#7 0x00000000004618ae in gtp_gg_genmove (s=<optimized out>) at interface/play_gtp.c:2163
#8 0x000000000045b0f8 in gtp_main_loop (commands=<optimized out>, gtp_input=0xb8b100) at interface/gtp.c:126
Figure 1: Backtrace with @entry value parameters

Cost in disk image size increase and compile-time
The parameter-entry-value feature is enabled with -g compilation. Due to new DebugInfo metadata generation which adds entries to DWARF sections such as .debug_info and .debug_loc, there is expected size increase of disk image of the executable built with “-g –O”. For SPEC CPU 2006 benchmark, the average size increase is 15%. However, there is no change in sections loaded at runtime such as .text. .data, .bss.  Hence, there is no runtime size increase.
Compile-time cost increase is 1-3% percent for SPEC CPU 2006.

Community up-streaming
Since we have implemented this for LLVM-4.0 we are currently in process of porting this implementation on LLVM trunk. We are planning to share this set of patches with LLVM community and seek feedback in improving certain parts of our implementation. 

[1]Jakub Jelínek and Roland McGrath. DWARF DW_OP_entry_value extension proposal. http://dwarfstd.org/ShowIssue.php? issue=100909.1.
[2 Jakub Jelínek, Roland McGrath, Jan Kratochvíl, and Alexandre Oliva. DWARF DW_TAG_call_site extension proposal. http://dwarfstd.org/ ShowIssue.php?issue=100909.2
[3] J. Jelinek “Improving debug info for optimized away parameters” https://gcc.gnu.org/wiki/summit2010?action=AttachFile&do=view&target=jelinek.pdf
[4] FOSDEM talk http://bofh.nikhef.nl/events/FOSDEM/2019/K.4.201/llvm_debug.webm
[5] Elfutils https://sourceware.org/elfutils/

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