[llvm-dev] [RFC] DebugInfo: A different way of specifying variable locations post-isel

Vedant Kumar via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Feb 24 23:23:37 PST 2020

> On Feb 24, 2020, at 9:31 AM, Jeremy Morse via llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> Hi debuginfo cabal,
> tl;dr: I'd like to know what people think about an alternative to
> DBG_VALUE instructions describing variable locations in registers,
> virtual or real. Before instruction selection in LLVM-IR we identify
> the _values_ of variables [0] by the instruction that computes the
> value; I believe we should be able to do the same post-isel, and it
> would avoid having to analyse register locations across regalloc and
> numerous optimisations. Or written another way: why don't we track the
> value of variables through backend codegen, and then determine a
> register location very late?
> This is just an idea with no solid proposal of work. IMO this would
> reduce the amount of code and complexity involved in preserving
> variable locations. It would also help eliminate debug instructions in
> a far flung future.
> Background:
> In optimised LLVM-IR, we specify a variable location like so:
>  %2 = someinst %1, %0
>  call @llvm.dbg.value(metadata i32 %2, ...)
> A dbg.value intrinsic call specifies two things about a variable:
> * The SSA-register / otherwise that is the value of the variable, and,
> * The position in the instruction stream where that SSA-register
> becomes the variable location.
> I'm using the term "machine location" and "program location"
> throughout this email to mean the two items above, respectively. This
> representation is good for LLVM-IR: the SSA-register machine location
> entirely and uniquely identifies a computation, the value of which
> should appear as the value of the variable in a debugger.
> Post-isel, the same sequence is represented by:
>  %2 = some-machine-inst %1, %0
>  DBG_VALUE %2, ...
> Which to a large extent means the same thing. However, there are some
> subtle differences that manifest as the function proceeds through the
> codegen pipeline:
> * The specified virtual register (%0) doesn't always contain the
> value produced by "some-machine-inst". Once we leave SSA-form, there
> can be multiple def's of the vreg after PHI-elimination / register
> coalescing.
> * The vreg does not uniquely identify the value produced by
> "some-machine-inst": COPY instructions introduced during SelectionDAG
> / PHI-elimination / other passes place the value into multiple vregs,
> that can have different liveness ranges.
> The problem:
> Those two differences between dbg.value intrinsics and DBG_VALUE
> instructions introduce some annoying artifacts that make handling
> DBG_VALUEs harder than dbg.values:
> * Identical DBG_VALUEs at different program locations can result in
> different variable values being presented (because their vreg operand
> might refer to a different def),
> * There can be multiple ways to represent a dbg.value in DBG_VALUEs
> (as you have a choice of vregs from COPY instructions), some with
> different lifetimes.
> Both of which make the movement and preservation of DBG_VALUEs much
> more context-dependent than the LLVM-IR equivalent. It's a lot easier
> to cause an incorrect value to appear in a debugger at this stage of
> compilation, or limit the range over which we preserve a variable
> location.
> There are currently three instruction scheduling passes in LLVM
> (machine-scheduler, postra scheduler, SelectionDAG does some too)
> which don't have any principled approach to preserving the correctness
> of variable locations, and are vulnerable to the artifacts above. The
> first two just glue DBG_VALUEs to the preceeding machine instruction
> and move them around together (vulnerable to assignment reordering and
> referring to the wrong {v,}reg def), the latter can re-order
> assignments but also finds it hard to select the longest-living vreg,
> which I wrote up in [1]. Correctly scheduling DBG_VALUEs to always:
> * refer to the correct vreg def,
> * With the longest lifetime,
> * without re-ordering assignments,
> is sufficiently hard that no-one has attempted it to my knowledge, and
> I believe it would be really difficult to get right. Additionally, if
> we were to generate DBG_VALUE $noreg instructions when rescheduling
> (to terminate earlier variable locations), and then a subsequent
> scheduling pass undoes that rescheduling (or some part of it), we will
> lose or shorten variable locations for no reason.
> Finally, being forced to always specify both the machine location and
> the program location at the same time (in a single DBG_VALUE)
> introduces un-necessary burdens. In MachineSink, when we sink between
> blocks an instruction that defines a vreg, we chose to sink DBG_VALUE
> instructions referring to that vreg too to avoid losing the variable
> location. This un-necessarily risks re-ordering assignments,

So under the proposed scheme, would the dbg value not be sunk? Ah, so then you’d get the dbg use before def scenario, which you argue has some nice properties below.

> and in
> some circumstances [2] you would have to examine all the instructions
> in the function to work out whether sinking a DBG_VALUE would be
> legal. In SimpleRegisterCoalescing, when we merge two vregs,
> DBG_VALUEs can only refer to the surviving vreg -- and at the
> DBG_VALUEs location that vreg might not contain the right def. There
> may be other machine locations where the correct value is available
> (it may even be rematerialized later), but searching for it is hard;
> right now we just drop variable location information in these cases.
> A solution:
> [To be clear, I haven't tried to implement this idea yet as I wanted feedback,]
> I'd like to suggest that we can represent variable locations in the
> codegen backend / MIR with three things:
> * The instruction that defines the value of the variable,
> * The operand of that instruction into which the value is written,
> * The position in the instruction stream where the assignment of this
> value to the variable occurs
> That's effectively modifying a machine location from being a {v,}reg,
> into being a "defining instruction" and operand. This is closer to the
> LLVM-IR form of a machine location, where the SSA Value and its
> computation are synonymous. Exactly how this is represented in-memory
> and in-printed-MIR I haven't thought a lot about; probably by
> attaching metadata to instructions and having DBG_VALUE use a metadata
> operand rather than referring to a vreg. Specifying machine locations
> like this would have the following benefits:
> * Both DBG_VALUEs and defining instructions are independent and can
> be moved within the function without loss of information, and without
> needing to consider so much context,
> * Likewise, vregs can be rewritten / merged / deleted without the
> need to update any debug metadata. Only instruction deletion /
> morphing would need some sort of change,

For deletion, that makes sense, we might consider introducing an MI level salvageDI method to help with that.

For replacement/morphing, wouldn’t MachineInstr::RAUW be able to update the new-style debug uses?

> * We would never need to refer to COPYs, avoiding artifical liveness
> limitations,
> * Debug use before defs would become tolerable (see below), and
> possibly even be a good way of describing locations after
> optimisations.
> This would not eliminate the risk of re-ordering variable assignments.
> The three instruction scheduling passes would become significantly
> easier to deal with: they would only have to replace DBG_VALUE
> instructions in the correct order, not worry about their operands.
> Various debug facilities in SimpleRegisterCoalescing, MachineSink, and
> large amounts of LiveDebugVariables would become redundant, as we
> wouldn't need to maintain a register location through optimisations.

I view this as a very large potential upside. LiveDebugVariables is incredibly complex and is a huge compile-time bear. Defining away large chunks of its job would be really nice.

Would this mean that an equivalence class in LiveDebugVariables would consist exclusively of UserValues referring to the same variable (as opposed to including UserValues that share a vreg as well)?

> Finally, this design could be extended to not having any instructions
> in the instruction stream. Once machine locations aren't described
> within a MachineOperand, the most important thing a DBG_VALUE
> signifies is a position in the instruction stream, which could be
> performed in some other way (i.e., more metadata) in the future.
> How then do we translate this new kind of machine location into
> DWARF/CodeView variable locations, which need to know which register
> to look in? The answer is: LiveDebugValues [3]. We already perform a
> dataflow analysis in LiveDebugValues of where values "go" after
> they're defined: we can use that to take "defining instructions" and
> determine register / stack locations. We would need to track values
> from the defining instruction up to the DBG_VALUE where that value
> becomes a variable location, after which it's no different from the
> LiveDebugValues analysis that we perform today. LiveDebugValues'
> ability to track values through stack spills and restores would become
> a critical feature (it isn't today), as we would no longer generate
> stack locations during register allocation.

Do you expect that handling for the current and new-style DBG_VALUEs could coexist in LiveDebugValues? Could that be done by e.g. introducing a new debug instr MI (DBG_INSTR_REF)?

> I reckon debug-use-before-def's can be tolerated in this
> representation, and even be well defined and useful, reducing the work
> needed to be done earlier in the compiler. Under the model described
> above, we can specify a program location before the corresponding
> machine location containing the variable value machine location
> becomes available. Consider this code:
>  DBG_VALUE output-of-this-inst ---
>  someinst1                        |
>  someinst2                        |
>  $rax = ADD32ri $rax, 0     <-----
> Where the line from DBG_VALUE to ADD32ri represents some
> as-yet-undetermined way of identifying the ADD32ri instruction from
> the DBG_VALUE. We can interpret such a code sequence as the variable
> having no location across someinst1 and someinst2, which are not
> dominated by the defining instruction, then a location of $rax after
> the ADD32ri. Essentially:
> * For an instruction dominated by a DBG_VALUE but not by the defining
> instruction, the variable location is empty / undef / $noreg,
> * For an instruction dominated by both, the variable location is
> defined as it is today.
> This should work across control flow, and doesn't necessitate the
> creation of DBG_VALUE $noreg's to explicitly describe unavailable
> locations when instructions move. In theory, if we were to accept
> debug use-before-defs in LLVM-IR, this would reduce analysis and mean
> fewer dbg.value(undef,...)'s would need to be created earlier in the
> compiler.
> Limitations
> The largest problem with this idea is that not all variable values are
> defined by instructions: PHIs are values that are defined by control
> flow. To deal with this pre-regalloc, we could move LiveDebugVariables
> to run before phi-elimination.

I don’t really follow this. Are you suggesting stripping out debug values before phi elim, and replacing them after virtregrewrite? How would the re-inserted debug instrs refer to values produced by phis?

> My understanding is that the register
> allocation phase of LLVM starts there and ends after virtregrewriter,
> and it'd be legitimate to say "we do special things for these passes".
> After regalloc however, there would need to be some way of specifying
> a block and a register, where entry to the block defines a variable
> value in that register. This isn't pretty; but IMO is the
> representation closest to the truth.

Oh, you answer this here. So LiveDebugVariables would need to figure out, for each debug-use-of-phi, 1) which block to put it in and 2) which register+variable gets defined. This is different enough from the new-style debug instr to potentially warrant its own instruction (DBG_PHI?).

> Passes like tail duplication and
> branchfolder might need to perform debuginfo maintenence when they
> altered blocks -- however I believe these circumstances are rare, as
> few control flow changes happen after regalloc. It (IMO) would be
> worth it given the other benefits.
> I also haven't considered the impact of this on -O0: one would imagine
> it would be easier to deal with than optimised builds though.
> Discussion
> I feel like this would be a better way of representing variable
> locations in the codegen backend; my fear is that this is a lot of
> work, and I don't know what appetite there is for change amongst other
> interested parties. Thus I'd be interested in any kind of feedback as
> to whether a) this is a good idea, b) whether this category of change
> is what people want, and c) whether this is seen as being achievable.

Imho this is a good idea and I’d like to see something like this happen. For it to ”really happen” we (Apple) would probably need a way to transition to the new representation incrementally (e.g. to toggle a flag to get back the old representation). I’m not yet sure about what all that would really entail.

> Being able to introduce this change incrementally presents some
> challenges: while the way of representing variable locations described
> above is more expressive than the current way, converting between one
> and the other requires running the LiveDebugValues analysis,

This sounds like you’re planning to change the existing DBG_VALUE instruction. Have you considered keeping it — unmodified — and introducing new debug instructions for the new semantics? The migration story for that seems a lot simpler.

> which
> makes moving transparently between the two hard to do. Moving
> backwards through the backend, from emission towards the start might
> be doable though.
> This introduces some additional complexity into a pass
> (LiveDebugValues) that's been difficult to understand and reason about
> in the past. In my opinion, given that we have to perform this
> dataflow analysis at the end of compilation to propagate variable
> locations anyway, it would be worthwhile to harness it to remove the
> need for complexity elsewhere.

If we can delete large parts of live debug variables this will be worth it imho. But perhaps part of the plan here should include splitting up live debug values into smaller files to simplify it?

> Some of the problems I've described
> above need their own dataflow analyses to be both sound and complete:
> IMO it would be better to record the bare minimum of facts and then
> interpret them at the end of compilation.
> Happily there are "only" 130 tests that input or output MIR in
> llvm/test/DebugInfo, so this doesn't involve rewriting *every* single
> test that there is.
> [0] You could consider an SSA register a "location" too, my point is
> that it's both a value and a location.
> [1] https://bugs.llvm.org/show_bug.cgi?id=41583
> [2] https://bugs.llvm.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44117
> [3] You knew it was coming!
> --
> Thanks,
> Jeremy
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