[llvm-dev] [RFC] BOLT: A Framework for Binary Analysis, Transformation, and Optimization

Chris Lattner via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Mar 11 22:34:11 PST 2021

On Mar 11, 2021, at 9:40 PM, Rafael Auler via llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> Hi Mehdi and David,
> Indeed, we share similar concerns. We do intend to move functionality of BOLT to live as a library, but the timeline is unclear. In fact, most of BOLT could live in a library already, it’s just a matter of moving some files into separate components. Instead of the files living in tools/llvm-bolt, most could just be moved under lib/something, and we already have a llvm-bolt.cpp file that instantiates the driver that coordinates the binary rewriting process, which is the entry point of BOLT as a library. People could already leverage this to use BOLT in different ways (for example, I wrote some time ago a different utility that runs the driver for two different binaries and compares the two – this was named boltdiff later).
> My main reason for committing the project as a whole first, in the same way as flang did, though, (as a project merged into the monorepo), is because BOLT is already opensource for a while, and it is a 6-year old project with about 800 commits and 50K lines of code and we know we have people who forked the project and would like to contribute to it. If I commit into LLVM a different BOLT (not just rebased), then I (a) break or make it hard for any work on top of it from other contributors, (b) lose the original history or make it harder to preserve it.  That’s why I was going for a more smoother transition. I, as a developer, put value in the ability to blame and to understand why things were built a certain way, and not bringing BOLT’s history (in the same way as flang did) would mean we and the community loses a lot of context on the decisions of the project. And I guess that’s also the rationale for a monorepo, to have multiple projects merged together.
> Because of that, I initially put bolt under /bolt, following flang’s model of merging the history so every developer has the right context. But the original location was under llvm/tools.

As with others, I’m not very aware of the internal architecture of bolt, so take this with a grain of salt:

From what I understand, I have a slight preference for starting this out as a /bolt top level “subproject”, because the code currently sounds monolithic.  As the implementation logic is refactored into more reusable units, those library can be cleanly movable within the monorepo, e.g. under the llvm-project/llvm directory if appropriate.

The advantage of doing this is that nothing in the llvm-project/llvm repo can come to depend on the bolt code until and if it gets refactored.  This is also how things like LLDB started out (and it would be great for more of the reusable libraries in LLDB to be merged into LLVM over time).

Does anyone have any concerns about this approach?

Unrelatedly, I’d also love to see the llvm repository exploded a bit into more top level repos, e.g. splitting support/adt out to their own thing.  It is also worth considering splitting the MC layer out to its own thing as well, LLVM IR and the mid-level optimizer into its own thing, and CodeGen and the targets into its own thing.

The major constraint we need is that we want the dependences between top-level subproject to be a strong DAG between the subproject now and defensible into the future, and we don’t want minor evolution of the codebase to cause libraries to have to be moved around.  The benefit of splitting it up is easier to enforce layering, encouraging LLVM developers to work across subproject a bit more, and making it easier for subproject to depend on slices of “the big llvm directory”.


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