Optimization hints for "constant" loads

I'm looking at how to optimize IR which contains reads from a field which is known to be initialized exactly once. I've got an idea on how to approach this, but wanted to see if others have alternate ideas or similar problems which might spark discussion. It feels like there's a potentially generally useful optimization hint here if we can generalize it sufficiently without loosing optimization potential.

The problem:
struct array {
private:
   // once initialized 'len' never changes
   int len;
   // data can be modified at will
   char data[0];
public:
   static array* make(int len) {
     array* a = ... allocate uninitialized space
     a->len = len;
     return a;
   }
};
void access(array* a, int idx) {
   if( idx >= 0 && idx <- a->len ) {
     a->data[idx] = 5;
   }
}
void foo(array* a) {
   for(int i = 0; i < a->len; i++) {
     access(a, i);
   }
}
// assume 'access' is inlined into 'foo' and the loop is unrolled a time or two

To phrase that again in english, I've got a field which is initialized once, with naive code which reads from it many times. I know at IR generation time that a load from array::len is special, but I loose this information as soon as I generate IR. In particular, I run into aliasing problems where the location a->len is considered 'mayalias' with unrelated stores thus preventing value forwarding, LICM, and other desirable optimizations.

Existing Approaches:
1) Use TBAA - By tagging loads and stores to the two fields of the array struct as disjoint branches in the TBAA tree, I can inform LLVM that a load of 'len' never aliases with a store through 'data'. This mostly works, and enables many loads to be forwarded by GVN, but (due to the intervening stores) is a complete loss in EarlyCSE and (due to intervening calls) LICM.
    a) Things like http://llvm.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=20805 could improve the situation in EarlyCSE.
2) Use "invariant.load" metadata - This metadata indicates that the field loaded from is initialized before the execution of the code being compiled. In particular, "invariant.load" implies that the load is not control dependent on any branch, is safe to speculate, and that no write aliases the location read from. This mostly works, but only if 'array::make' is never visible in the IR. As soon as 'array::make' gets inlined, all bets are off and mis-compiles may result.
    a) Also, in practice, only LICM really knows about "invariant.load". It would be pretty straight forward to teach both EarlyCSE and GVN about them though. http://llvm.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=20806

New Approaches:
(This isn't so much "being proposed" as "being put forward for discussion".)

1) Introduce a new metadata type "initialized-before-load" which implies that the value of any two loads tagged with the metadata along any execution path must yield the same result.

This doesn't give much freedom to the 'first' load; it's still control dependent, can't be reordered with preceding stores, can't be lifted out of loops, etc... It can however be reordered with following stores or sunk out of a loop provided the loop body is known to execute at least once.

The second load has a lot more freedom. Provided that there is always another load to the same location (with the metadata) provable preceding it on all paths, it can be reordered freely, lifted over control branches, lifted out of loops, etc... Importantly, it is also legal to forward the value of a preceding load to a later load provided that a) both have the metadata and b) that one load executes strictly before the other.

A store marked "initialized-before-load" is undefined if there is a load with the same metadata on the same location preceding it. There may be *multiple* stores to the location along a path, provided that the first load is strictly after *all* of them.

This seems staight forward to implement in EarlyCSE and LICM. I haven't looked closely at GVN, but expect it's probably not hard either.

2) Introduce a slightly different metadata "initialized-once". Semantics are very similar to the preceding except that there can only be a single store to the location along any path.

Value forwarding from the store to a following load (with metadata) is allowed regardless of potentially aliasing intervening stores.

This was actually my original idea, but it has a couple of problems. First, it breaks on surprisingly common initialization patterns such as default initialization followed by real initialization. Secondly, I'm not sure the optimizer would always preserve the "write once" property. In particular, the optimizer is free to divide a large write into several smaller ones (assuming the write is not atomic.)

Thoughts? Suggestions? Similar sounding problems this might be able to solve?

Philip

We have some similar cases and wanted the same thing; what we were doing for a while is using the third “is constant” field of the TBAA metadata and setting that to 1. I’m not 100% sure what the semantics of that are – LangRef says it means that pointsToConstantMemory() returns true which means that the memory is “impossible … to be modified”, which seems like not quite a fit for this set-exactly-once use case. In practice, looking at the IR after our optimization pipeline, we were getting the results we wanted: if a store and subsequent loads were seen together, the store would remain and the value would be forwarded to all the loads. (I don’t think I looked at the “multiple loads with no visible store which should get collapsed to a single load” case.) ymmv

We’ve disabled the optimization for now, since without an easy way of putting the annotation in the C++ source code and getting it passed through clang, it became a burden to keep the application logic in sync with the tbaa-fixup code that lived in a different place. We’ll fix it eventually…

kmod

We have some similar cases and wanted the same thing; what we were doing for a while is using the third “is constant” field of the TBAA metadata and setting that to 1. I’m not 100% sure what the semantics of that are – LangRef says it means that pointsToConstantMemory() returns true which means that the memory is “impossible … to be modified”, which seems like not quite a fit for this set-exactly-once use case. In practice, looking at the IR after our optimization pipeline, we were getting the results we wanted: if a store and subsequent loads were seen together, the store would remain and the value would be forwarded to all the loads. (I don’t think I looked at the “multiple loads with no visible store which should get collapsed to a single load” case.) ymmv

I hadn’t looked at this approach much, but based on the documentation, you’re basically just asking for miscompiles here. The semantics seem to be the same as “invariant.load”. While the optimizer happens to not be removing the stores, it seems like it would be perfectly legal for it to do so.

We’ve disabled the optimization for now, since without an easy way of putting the annotation in the C++ source code and getting it passed through clang, it became a burden to keep the application logic in sync with the tbaa-fixup code that lived in a different place. We’ll fix it eventually…

I can’t comment on this part. I’m assuming the C++ code being compiled is your runtime or something?

Yeah, agreed that it's risky based on the documentation, but it feels like
this is the intended use case for that "is constant" TBAA field, since I'm
not sure when the described semantics could be useful.

From: "Philip Reames" <listmail@philipreames.com>
To: llvmdev@cs.uiuc.edu
Cc: "Hal Finkel" <hfinkel@anl.gov>, nicholas@mxc.ca
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:11:28 AM
Subject: Optimization hints for "constant" loads

I'm looking at how to optimize IR which contains reads from a field
which is known to be initialized exactly once. I've got an idea on
how
to approach this, but wanted to see if others have alternate ideas or
similar problems which might spark discussion. It feels like there's
a
potentially generally useful optimization hint here if we can
generalize
it sufficiently without loosing optimization potential.

The problem:
struct array {
private:
   // once initialized 'len' never changes
   int len;
   // data can be modified at will
   char data[0];
public:
   static array* make(int len) {
     array* a = ... allocate uninitialized space
     a->len = len;
     return a;
   }
};
void access(array* a, int idx) {
   if( idx >= 0 && idx <- a->len ) {
     a->data[idx] = 5;
   }
}
void foo(array* a) {
   for(int i = 0; i < a->len; i++) {
     access(a, i);
   }
}
// assume 'access' is inlined into 'foo' and the loop is unrolled a
time
or two

To phrase that again in english, I've got a field which is
initialized
once, with naive code which reads from it many times. I know at IR
generation time that a load from array::len is special, but I loose
this
information as soon as I generate IR. In particular, I run into
aliasing problems where the location a->len is considered 'mayalias'
with unrelated stores thus preventing value forwarding, LICM, and
other
desirable optimizations.

Existing Approaches:

I think that, at least in theory, we already have a solution to this problem. If, after the initialization is complete, you insert a call to the llvm.invariant.start intrinsic (and perhaps also do so at the start of any routine you know can be called only after initialization is complete), that should convey the information you want.

I've never worked with this intrinsic before, but if this does not work, I'd be really curious to know why.

Thanks again,
Hal

From: "Philip Reames" <listmail@philipreames.com>
To: llvmdev@cs.uiuc.edu
Cc: "Hal Finkel" <hfinkel@anl.gov>, nicholas@mxc.ca
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:11:28 AM
Subject: Optimization hints for "constant" loads

I'm looking at how to optimize IR which contains reads from a field
which is known to be initialized exactly once. I've got an idea on
how
to approach this, but wanted to see if others have alternate ideas or
similar problems which might spark discussion. It feels like there's
a
potentially generally useful optimization hint here if we can
generalize
it sufficiently without loosing optimization potential.

The problem:
struct array {
private:
    // once initialized 'len' never changes
    int len;
    // data can be modified at will
    char data[0];
public:
    static array* make(int len) {
      array* a = ... allocate uninitialized space
      a->len = len;
      return a;
    }
};
void access(array* a, int idx) {
    if( idx >= 0 && idx <- a->len ) {
      a->data[idx] = 5;
    }
}
void foo(array* a) {
    for(int i = 0; i < a->len; i++) {
      access(a, i);
    }
}
// assume 'access' is inlined into 'foo' and the loop is unrolled a
time
or two

To phrase that again in english, I've got a field which is
initialized
once, with naive code which reads from it many times. I know at IR
generation time that a load from array::len is special, but I loose
this
information as soon as I generate IR. In particular, I run into
aliasing problems where the location a->len is considered 'mayalias'
with unrelated stores thus preventing value forwarding, LICM, and
other
desirable optimizations.

Existing Approaches:

I think that, at least in theory, we already have a solution to this problem. If, after the initialization is complete, you insert a call to the llvm.invariant.start intrinsic (and perhaps also do so at the start of any routine you know can be called only after initialization is complete), that should convey the information you want.

I've never worked with this intrinsic before, but if this does not work, I'd be really curious to know why.

Huh. You're right, this should work. I'm going to run some experiments and see what happens in practice.

Thanks for the pointer on this! Not sure how I managed to miss this approach.

From: "Philip Reames" <listmail@philipreames.com>
To: llvmdev@cs.uiuc.edu
Cc: "Hal Finkel" <hfinkel@anl.gov>, nicholas@mxc.ca
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:11:28 AM
Subject: Optimization hints for "constant" loads

I'm looking at how to optimize IR which contains reads from a field
which is known to be initialized exactly once. I've got an idea on
how
to approach this, but wanted to see if others have alternate ideas or
similar problems which might spark discussion. It feels like there's
a
potentially generally useful optimization hint here if we can
generalize
it sufficiently without loosing optimization potential.

The problem:
struct array {
private:
    // once initialized 'len' never changes
    int len;
    // data can be modified at will
    char data[0];
public:
    static array* make(int len) {
      array* a = ... allocate uninitialized space
      a->len = len;
      return a;
    }
};
void access(array* a, int idx) {
    if( idx >= 0 && idx <- a->len ) {
      a->data[idx] = 5;
    }
}
void foo(array* a) {
    for(int i = 0; i < a->len; i++) {
      access(a, i);
    }
}
// assume 'access' is inlined into 'foo' and the loop is unrolled a
time
or two

To phrase that again in english, I've got a field which is
initialized
once, with naive code which reads from it many times. I know at IR
generation time that a load from array::len is special, but I loose
this
information as soon as I generate IR. In particular, I run into
aliasing problems where the location a->len is considered 'mayalias'
with unrelated stores thus preventing value forwarding, LICM, and
other
desirable optimizations.

Existing Approaches:

I think that, at least in theory, we already have a solution to this problem. If, after the initialization is complete, you insert a call to the llvm.invariant.start intrinsic (and perhaps also do so at the start of any routine you know can be called only after initialization is complete), that should convey the information you want.

I've never worked with this intrinsic before, but if this does not work, I'd be really curious to know why.

From some experiments, the existing invariant intrinsics appear nearly useless for my purposes. The problem is that any call can hide a invariant.end intrinsic. As a result, the optimizer must conservatively assume that any call clobbers the "invariant" location. This makes the intrinsic a non-starter in it's current form.

; Function Attrs: uwtable
define zeroext i1 @_Z4testv() #0 {
   %1 = tail call noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64 4) #3
   %2 = bitcast i8* %1 to i32*
   store i32 5, i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %discard = call {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64 4, i8* %1)
   tail call void @_Z6escapePi(i32* %2)
   %3 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %4 = icmp eq i32 %3, 5 <-- this conditional should be folded away and is not
   ret i1 %4
}

declare {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64, i8*)

; Function Attrs: nobuiltin
declare noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64) #1

declare void @_Z6escapePi(i32*) #2

It also appears that the intrinsic has limited implementation in the optimizer. Even surprisingly simple cases don't appear to kick in. Consider:
define zeroext i1 @_Z4testv() #0 {
   %1 = tail call noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64 4) #4
   %2 = bitcast i8* %1 to i32*
   store i32 5, i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %discard = tail call {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64 4, i8* %1)
   %3 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %4 = icmp eq i32 %3, 5 <-- This conditional should be folded
   tail call void @_Z6escapePi(i32* %2, i1 %4)
   %5 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %6 = icmp eq i32 %5, 5
   ret i1 %6
}

We could extend the existing intrinsic with a notion of invariant.start that has no end. This could be as simple as adding a boolean parameter to the intrinsic. I think this could be made to work. There'd be other implementation work needed to make it actually useful, the validity based on dominance model used by assumes seems like an obvious candidate.

Thinking through this, I see a couple of places that we'd change:
- isLocationKnownInvariant(Value* Loc, Instruction* Cntx) and related analysis pass (analogous to assumptions)
   - The new "no end" version is easy (dominance)
   - The older version is a graph walk looking paths which include either an end, or call.
- eagerly propagate known invariant location store values in EarlyCSE (strictly by dominance for the new intrinsic form)
- Add an InstCombine rule to fold a store to a known invariant location to undef
- Teach GVN about it (gets the non dominance cases), could also do fun things which phis of invariant locations, but not sure that's actually useful
- Teach LICM to lift loads of known invariant locations out of loops

Does this seem like a workable approach?

Philip

From: "Philip Reames" <listmail@philipreames.com>
To: "Hal Finkel" <hfinkel@anl.gov>
Cc: nicholas@mxc.ca, llvmdev@cs.uiuc.edu
Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 8:07:55 PM
Subject: Re: Optimization hints for "constant" loads

>> From: "Philip Reames" <listmail@philipreames.com>
>> To: llvmdev@cs.uiuc.edu
>> Cc: "Hal Finkel" <hfinkel@anl.gov>, nicholas@mxc.ca
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:11:28 AM
>> Subject: Optimization hints for "constant" loads
>>
>> I'm looking at how to optimize IR which contains reads from a
>> field
>> which is known to be initialized exactly once. I've got an idea
>> on
>> how
>> to approach this, but wanted to see if others have alternate ideas
>> or
>> similar problems which might spark discussion. It feels like
>> there's
>> a
>> potentially generally useful optimization hint here if we can
>> generalize
>> it sufficiently without loosing optimization potential.
>>
>> The problem:
>> struct array {
>> private:
>> // once initialized 'len' never changes
>> int len;
>> // data can be modified at will
>> char data[0];
>> public:
>> static array* make(int len) {
>> array* a = ... allocate uninitialized space
>> a->len = len;
>> return a;
>> }
>> };
>> void access(array* a, int idx) {
>> if( idx >= 0 && idx <- a->len ) {
>> a->data[idx] = 5;
>> }
>> }
>> void foo(array* a) {
>> for(int i = 0; i < a->len; i++) {
>> access(a, i);
>> }
>> }
>> // assume 'access' is inlined into 'foo' and the loop is unrolled
>> a
>> time
>> or two
>>
>> To phrase that again in english, I've got a field which is
>> initialized
>> once, with naive code which reads from it many times. I know at
>> IR
>> generation time that a load from array::len is special, but I
>> loose
>> this
>> information as soon as I generate IR. In particular, I run into
>> aliasing problems where the location a->len is considered
>> 'mayalias'
>> with unrelated stores thus preventing value forwarding, LICM, and
>> other
>> desirable optimizations.
>>
>> Existing Approaches:
> I think that, at least in theory, we already have a solution to
> this problem. If, after the initialization is complete, you insert
> a call to the llvm.invariant.start intrinsic (and perhaps also do
> so at the start of any routine you know can be called only after
> initialization is complete), that should convey the information
> you want.
>
> I've never worked with this intrinsic before, but if this does not
> work, I'd be really curious to know why.
From some experiments, the existing invariant intrinsics appear
nearly
useless for my purposes. The problem is that any call can hide a
invariant.end intrinsic. As a result, the optimizer must
conservatively
assume that any call clobbers the "invariant" location. This makes
the
intrinsic a non-starter in it's current form.

; Function Attrs: uwtable
define zeroext i1 @_Z4testv() #0 {
   %1 = tail call noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64 4) #3
   %2 = bitcast i8* %1 to i32*
   store i32 5, i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %discard = call {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64 4, i8* %1)
   tail call void @_Z6escapePi(i32* %2)
   %3 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %4 = icmp eq i32 %3, 5 <-- this conditional should be folded away
   and is not
   ret i1 %4
}

declare {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64, i8*)

; Function Attrs: nobuiltin
declare noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64) #1

declare void @_Z6escapePi(i32*) #2

It also appears that the intrinsic has limited implementation in the
optimizer. Even surprisingly simple cases don't appear to kick in.
Consider:
define zeroext i1 @_Z4testv() #0 {
   %1 = tail call noalias i8* @_Znwm(i64 4) #4
   %2 = bitcast i8* %1 to i32*
   store i32 5, i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %discard = tail call {}* @llvm.invariant.start(i64 4, i8* %1)
   %3 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %4 = icmp eq i32 %3, 5 <-- This conditional should be folded
   tail call void @_Z6escapePi(i32* %2, i1 %4)
   %5 = load i32* %2, align 4, !tbaa !1
   %6 = icmp eq i32 %5, 5
   ret i1 %6
}

We could extend the existing intrinsic with a notion of
invariant.start
that has no end. This could be as simple as adding a boolean
parameter
to the intrinsic. I think this could be made to work. There'd be
other
implementation work needed to make it actually useful, the validity
based on dominance model used by assumes seems like an obvious
candidate.

Thinking through this, I see a couple of places that we'd change:
- isLocationKnownInvariant(Value* Loc, Instruction* Cntx) and related
analysis pass (analogous to assumptions)
   - The new "no end" version is easy (dominance)
   - The older version is a graph walk looking paths which include
either an end, or call.
- eagerly propagate known invariant location store values in EarlyCSE
(strictly by dominance for the new intrinsic form)
- Add an InstCombine rule to fold a store to a known invariant
location
to undef
- Teach GVN about it (gets the non dominance cases), could also do
fun
things which phis of invariant locations, but not sure that's
actually
useful
- Teach LICM to lift loads of known invariant locations out of loops

Does this seem like a workable approach?

Yes, I think this sounds quite reasonable.

-Hal

I'll start throwing together some patches. It'll take a couple of weeks due to current distractions, but I'll get something up for review when I can.

Philip

This is also something that I've wanted to get support for, so thanks for
working on it.

I've never realy understood how the llvm.invariant intrinsics could be
put into practice. There is the problem that "end" can occur anywhere
as you suggested fixing with a flag. But there is also the problem
that "start" needs to be visible in-scope. Additionally,
llvm.invariant is inherently control dependent, which doesn't really
allow the optimizer to hoist the invariant loads the way we want it
to. Are you planning to have your frontend emit llvm.invariant.start
intrinsics *everywhere* the field is accessed. If the frontend creates
a bunch of small llvm.invariant scopes, with arbitrary calls in
between, we won't be able to hoist or combine them. Although with your
proposal we could at least eliminate the llvm.invariant calls that are
dominated by another identical one.

I think it would be simpler and more powerful for the frontend to
treat loads from a particular type as invariant and have a safe way to
express the initialization. In other words, the frontend could always
emit the invariant metadata on the loads, but guard the store to avoid
loading before initialization.

The question is how to guard the initial store(s). Because we treat
invariant metadata as effectively meaning "can't alias", I think we
need to express this as a data dependence on the pointer that we load
from.

Conceptually:

%p = unaliased address
store val, %p
%a = llvm.safe_cast %p ; just made this up
val = load %a !invariant

This approach would give optimization maximum freedom in code that
doesn't involve initialization. It would block store-load forwarding
from the initializer itself to the invariant loads, but I think
handling that is a simple peephole.

There are multiple important use-cases for write-once data:
- Constant globals with nontrivial initialization.
- Runtime metadata, including but not limited to object headers.
- Builtin data structures with immutable semantics.
- Maybe even language features for user defined data structures.

In some cases, we want to lazilly initialize a value. Some cases even
have conditionally invariant values. Ideally, we can express all of
these situations in LLVM IR. I think of the generalization of the
problem as:

- some arbitrary condition produces a token
- all loads from the immutable memory must acquire this token

It might look like this:

%p1 = ...
%p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
%a = select i1 %is_immutable, %p1, %p2

load %a !invariant

If %is_immutable can be proven to be true, then the safe_cast becomes
a nop. Otherwise, the safe_cast appears to read memory reachable from
its pointer, preventing stores from being reordered across it. The
safe_cast is readonly, so loads can be hoisted and optimized across it
and redundant stores can be eliminated.

Examples:

(1) Immutable fields in builtin data structures (Array.length)

; initialization

%p = <allocate>
store %v0, %p
%a = llvm.safe_cast %p
store %a, %container

...

; access to the immutable data in a different scope

%a = load %container
%v1 = load %a, !invariant

Here the second load is invariant but depends on the first load of the
container object (array), %a. The first load effectively acquires the
token. This load is not generally invariant, but likely loop invariant
and may benefit from TBAA. We would get the same effect by returning
the pointer to the "new" array and wouldn't need the first load in
that case.

(2) Lazilly initialized data

%p1 = ...
if (!%is_initialized) ; some arbitrary condition
  store %initval, %p1
%p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
%a = select i1 %is_initialized, %p1, %p2
%v = load %a, !invariant

Here we have an invariant load guarded by a condition,
%is_initialized. If the optimizer can reason about the condition,
which may be tested repeatedly in the same scope, it can optimize away
the lazy initialization path. These patterns can potentially be
optimized via correlated value propagation, jump-threading, and
unswitching.

(3) Conditionally immutable data

I realize this case is confusing but I'm laying out an example here anyway as a proof of concept.

; Load the internal state of an object. Once it is immutable, it is
; always immutable. This computation is marked invariant so it can be
; hoisted and combined.

%invariant_internal_state = load %object, !invariant
%invariant_is_immutable_flag = load %invariant_internal_state, !invariant
%invariant_is_immutable_check = cmp %invariant_is_immutable_flag, ...

; Any subsequent load of the internal state after it may have changed
; must be guarded.

%safe_object = llvm.safe_cast %object

; conditionally reload the object

%reload_internal_state = load %safe_object
%internal_state =
  select i1 %invariant_is_immutable_check,
            %invariant_internal_state,
            %reload_internal_state,

The %invariant_is_immutable_check can now be combined and hoisted out
of loops.

This case is tricky because every load of the object's internal state
must be guarded. It's up to the front end to handle this. This
technique may be useful if you need to aggressively optimize for case
in which an object is dynamically determined to be immutable, and that
is expected to be the common case.

I've never realy understood how the llvm.invariant intrinsics could be
put into practice. There is the problem that "end" can occur anywhere
as you suggested fixing with a flag.

I was under this impression too, but after re-reading the language
reference I'm not so sure -- it says about invariant.start: "This
intrinsic indicates that
until an llvm.invariant.end that uses the return value, the referenced
memory location is constant and unchanging.". I think this implies
that if the result of an `llvm.invariant.start` doesn't escape, we can
safely conclude that there can be no matching `llvm.invariant.end`.

I'm still a little hazy on all of the use cases you want to support,
but one problem with llvm.safe_cast is, as you note, stores to the
pointer passed to safe_cast will not be forwarded to loads from the
pointer it returns. I think this issue can be solved by modeling
`llvm.safe_cast` not as a transformation on a pointer, but as a check.
Specifically, I imagine a readonly intrinsic `llvm.assert_immutable`
that "asserts" that the pointer passed to it is immutable, and unwinds
if that fact isn't true (these are only imaginary semantics -- we know
the intrinsic will never actually unwind). This means
`llvm.assert_immutable` can't be marked nounwind (otherwise it would
just get optimized away); but since it doesn't need to unwind to the
same frame, a CallInst is sufficient (an InvokeInst would've increased
the CFG's complexity).

So

  %p = unaliased address
  store 42, %p
  %a = llvm.safe_cast %p ; just made this up
  %val = load %a !invariant

becomes

  %p = unaliased address
  store 42, %p
  call void @llvm.assert_immutable(%p)
  %val = load %p !invariant

AFAICT, "load %p" can not, in general, be re-ordered to before the
call to @llvm.assert_immutable because we don't know what condition it
uses to decide if it should unwind. There are cases where I think
such a re-ordering would be legal (an unused %val is one example,
another example is where the only use of %val is a comparison with
undef) but if I understand correctly, re-ordering a load with the call
to @llvm.assert_immutable can only be a performance loss -- it will
change dominance in a way that we'll "forget" that a load was
immutable. And I think in most of the cases that are interesting to
optimize, the re-ordering will not be legal.

It is still legal to value forward the store though:

  %p = unaliased address
  store 42, %p
  call void @llvm.assert_immutable(%p)
  %val = 42

because *if* assert_immutable does not unwind, %val will see the
dominating store, because assert_immutable is readonly.

Again,

  %p1 = ...
  %p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
  %a = select i1 %is_immutable, %p1, %p2
  load %a !invariant

could become

  %p1 = ...
  if (not %is_immutable) {
    call llvm.assert_immutable(%p1)
  }
  load %p1

or, if we wish to reduce control flow, we could define
`llvm.assert_immutable` to be a no-op on null:

  %p1 = ...
  %a = select i1 %is_immutable, null, %p1,
  call llvm.assert_immutable(%a)
  load %p1 !invariant

`llvm.assert_immutable` does with control dependencies what
`llvm.safe_cast` does with data dependencies.

llvm.invariant is inherently control dependent, which doesn't really
allow the optimizer to hoist the invariant loads the way we want it
to.

I'm curious about why you think so -- do you have examples that
demonstrate this? And is this a flaw in how llvm implements llvm.invariant
or something fundamental about control dependencies?

-- Sanjoy

I've never realy understood how the llvm.invariant intrinsics could be
put into practice. There is the problem that "end" can occur anywhere
as you suggested fixing with a flag.

I was under this impression too, but after re-reading the language
reference I'm not so sure -- it says about invariant.start: "This
intrinsic indicates that
until an llvm.invariant.end that uses the return value, the referenced
memory location is constant and unchanging.". I think this implies
that if the result of an `llvm.invariant.start` doesn't escape, we can
safely conclude that there can be no matching `llvm.invariant.end`.

I'm still a little hazy on all of the use cases you want to support,
but one problem with llvm.safe_cast is, as you note, stores to the
pointer passed to safe_cast will not be forwarded to loads from the
pointer it returns. I think this issue can be solved by modeling
`llvm.safe_cast` not as a transformation on a pointer, but as a check.
Specifically, I imagine a readonly intrinsic `llvm.assert_immutable`
that "asserts" that the pointer passed to it is immutable, and unwinds
if that fact isn't true (these are only imaginary semantics -- we know
the intrinsic will never actually unwind). This means
`llvm.assert_immutable` can't be marked nounwind (otherwise it would
just get optimized away); but since it doesn't need to unwind to the
same frame, a CallInst is sufficient (an InvokeInst would've increased
the CFG's complexity).

So

%p = unaliased address
store 42, %p
%a = llvm.safe_cast %p ; just made this up
%val = load %a !invariant

becomes

%p = unaliased address
store 42, %p
call void @llvm.assert_immutable(%p)
%val = load %p !invariant

AFAICT, "load %p" can not, in general, be re-ordered to before the
call to @llvm.assert_immutable because we don't know what condition it
uses to decide if it should unwind. There are cases where I think
such a re-ordering would be legal (an unused %val is one example,
another example is where the only use of %val is a comparison with
undef) but if I understand correctly, re-ordering a load with the call
to @llvm.assert_immutable can only be a performance loss -- it will
change dominance in a way that we'll "forget" that a load was
immutable. And I think in most of the cases that are interesting to
optimize, the re-ordering will not be legal.

It is still legal to value forward the store though:

%p = unaliased address
store 42, %p
call void @llvm.assert_immutable(%p)
%val = 42

because *if* assert_immutable does not unwind, %val will see the
dominating store, because assert_immutable is readonly.

Again,

%p1 = ...
%p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
%a = select i1 %is_immutable, %p1, %p2
load %a !invariant

could become

%p1 = ...
if (not %is_immutable) {
   call llvm.assert_immutable(%p1)
}
load %p1

or, if we wish to reduce control flow, we could define
`llvm.assert_immutable` to be a no-op on null:

%p1 = ...
%a = select i1 %is_immutable, null, %p1,
call llvm.assert_immutable(%a)
load %p1 !invariant

Just so you know, I am not a big fan of adding cast nodes into the use-def chain. It has to be a last resort. I proposed it this time because I don't see another way to fully express the semantics, and in many cases the casts are limited to the initialization code. I think the optimizer could be taught to store->load forward across them with some effort.

AFAICT The only difference between assert_immutable and invariant.start is that assert_immutable "maythrow", and we don't need to find all uses of the pointer.

assert_immutable will handle your use case safely as long as you don't mark it "readonly" (loads can move above readonly calls).
http://llvm.1065342.n5.nabble.com/Does-nounwind-have-semantics-td59631.html

The problems that we will face with assert_immutable are:

- Because it is maythrow and is not readonly, there is a dependence between assert_immutable and *all* subsequent loads. This could seriously impact optimization.

- Since the invariant load is not actually marked invariant, it can't be reordered with other stores and nonreadonly calls.

- It does not allow us in the future to speculatively hoist certain invariant loads above maythrow calls and branches.

So, I'm ok with assert_immutable as a solution to some subset of problems. But it is incomplete and suboptimal. I suspect that introducing non-readonly calls will do more harm than the benefit you get from marking some loads invariant.

Also note that this could get interesting when we introduce TBAA on calls:
http://lists.cs.uiuc.edu/pipermail/llvmdev/2013-October/066214.html

We would like to hoist loads above calls that have non-interfering TBAA tags, but also may throw (patchpoints and stackmaps are marked maythrow).

Say we declare that loads can be hoisted above maythrow calls with TBAA. If TBAA is dropped it becomes conservative. Then you could give your assert_immutable calls TBAA that only interferes with the array length load. That would solve some of your optimization issues, but only really works well if most of your loads and calls have precise TBAA tags.

The more aggressive solution I was proposing was to mark loads that are guarded with explicit safety checks as "maySpeculate". If we do that we definitely need a way to create a data dependence on a cast - this approach is incompatible with assert_immutable.

`llvm.assert_immutable` does with control dependencies what
`llvm.safe_cast` does with data dependencies.

llvm.invariant is inherently control dependent, which doesn't really
allow the optimizer to hoist the invariant loads the way we want it
to.

I'm curious about why you think so -- do you have examples that
demonstrate this? And is this a flaw in how llvm implements llvm.invariant
or something fundamental about control dependencies?

I am saying exactly what you said just above the quote: llvm.invariant and llvm.assert_immutable guarantee safety by relying on implicit control dependence. That doesn't really give us full freedom to optimize the guarded invariant loads. They still can't be optimized across other non-readonly calls or hoisted above branches or out of loops. This is fundamental to the representation - it's not an implementation detail.

-Andy

Thank you for the explanation, I think I misunderstood your solution
initially. Is it accurate to say: by making the definition of the
source pointer of an !invariant load control (or data) dependent on
some initialization event, you can effectively separate the
initialization event (where the location is not invariant) and the
rest of the execution (where the location is invariant).

This approach looks similar to Ruby's "freeze" method:
http://ruby-doc.org/core-2.1.3/Object.html#method-i-freeze

What is the aliasing relationship between a non-invariant load from
the result of a safe_cast and a load from (or store to) the argument
we pass to it? Is it sensible to make them MustAlias? I'm trying to
think if a frontend needs to be careful about using the return value
of check_cast only for !invariant loads (or some other restriction),
or is it legal (or desirable) to mix and match both kinds of loads
from both kinds of pointers.

-- Sanjoy

%p1 = ...
store %v0, %p1
%p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
store %v1, %p1
store %v2, %p2
%v3 = load %p2, !invariant

The load can be moved above both stores (%v1 and %v2). AFAIK, the invariant metadata tag essentially tells alias analysis not to even try, just assume no aliasing. So the semantics effectively guarantee that %v0==%v1==%v3==%v3. The IR is still “legal” in that it is verifiable, but it is nonsense.

Note that it is also totally valid for an alias analysis to return that they MustAlias. That would allow forwarding from store %v0 to the load. This would have to be implemented as a special case, since the invariant tag normally bypasses pointer analysis. I admit this is weird, but I’m don’t know of any problems it will cause. This can already happen with TBAA, and will be a problem with any metadata that can be abused by the frontend or language design. A difficultly with this approach is that the frontend has the burden for emitting guards anywhere the “invariant” data could be modified.

How do you imagine mixing and matching invariant and non-invariant? I showed some examples of doing that safely, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to you.

-Andy

Ok, I'm catching up on this thread. Let me summarize a couple of things I noticed while reading.

Sanjoy made a good point. We don't actually need a new variant of "invariant.start". Simply using an invariant.start with no uses gives us a notion of an invariant region with no end. (Since the result doesn't escape, there can be no end hidden inside a function call.) This seems like a simple notion to exploit and is strict step forward from where we are, without a new intrinsic.

The notions of "invariant over some range" and "safe to speculate over some range" are related, but distinct. However, to get the most power out of the former, you often need the later.

Andy seems to be arguing in favour of data flow mostly because it's easier for the optimizer. Unless I'm misreading, there's nothing preventing us from using control flow for the same patterns. For example:
p1 = ...
*p1 = 5
p2 = llvm.safe_cast p1
p3 = select is_constant p2, p1
load p3

Is isomorphic with:
p1 = ...
*p1 = 5
if is_constant:
   invariant.start(p1)
load p1

Andy, is this correct? Or am I missing something?

(p.s. You guys seem to be throwing around the terms "!invariant" and "invariant load" without clearly defining them. I'm unsure if you mean the same things.)

I suspect this is going to be a topic we should discuss in person at the developers conference or over a beer at a social. It's a bit complicated to keep track of in email.

My belief is that a path sensitive invariant indicator for a memory location is probably sufficient for most use cases. In particular, the initialization and use logic is usually not in the same compilation for the cases I care about. I care that such cases are *possible*, but I'm less concerned about them being *easy*. I'm also having real trouble find examples of cases where Andy's "conditionally invariant data" is useful. Given that we *have an existing* mechanism which only needs a slightly tweak for "endless" invariant regions, I'm tempted to stick with what we have.

The only change (clarification?) I'd make to the current scheme is to specify that a location is both invariant *and dereferenceable* at the point it is listed in an invariant.start. This enables speculative loading up to that construct. I think this is actually what the current intrinsic is trying for from the documentation.

(Hm.. it does make it hard to rearrange calls to invariant.start though... Thoughts?)

I suspect that for the Array.length case, I'd probably do something like this:
arr = function_that_returns_array();
invariant.start(arr.length)
... arbitrary control flow ...
length = arr.length
... arbitrary control flow ...
length2 = arr.length

My reasoning here is that if something returns an array (in this compilation) I want the invariant fact to be visible. If that factory function gets inlined, I'd end up with:
arr = new Array;
arr.length = X;
invariant.start(arr.length)
... arbitrary control flow ...
length = arr.length
... arbitrary control flow ...
length2 = arr.length

Both cases seem nearly ideal here. I know I can lift the loads as far as the function which returns the base pointer. I know I can value forward loads (either with or without lifting). I know I can value forward the store to the load (as I normally would).

In terms of aliasing, it seems like having invariant.start read from it's arguments memory is sufficient. That prevents reorderings of stores to that location before the address to after the invariant.start. Due to conservative aliasing, that might be somewhat harmful, but I don't really see a way to avoid this... (Or is this the point Andy's trying to solve with the data flow?) I don't have a sense for how painful this is. Try it and see?

I could see a useful extension for a function attribute (type?, TBAA?) for describing the return value's invariant fields (*at the point of the return*), but that is more minor goodness for IR size then clearly necessary.

Philip

Thank you for the explanation, I think I misunderstood your solution
initially. Is it accurate to say: by making the definition of the
source pointer of an !invariant load control (or data) dependent on
some initialization event, you can effectively separate the
initialization event (where the location is not invariant) and the
rest of the execution (where the location is invariant).

This approach looks similar to Ruby's "freeze" method:
http://ruby-doc.org/core-2.1.3/Object.html#method-i-freeze

What is the aliasing relationship between a non-invariant load from
the result of a safe_cast and a load from (or store to) the argument
we pass to it? Is it sensible to make them MustAlias? I'm trying to
think if a frontend needs to be careful about using the return value
of check_cast only for !invariant loads (or some other restriction),
or is it legal (or desirable) to mix and match both kinds of loads
from both kinds of pointers.

%p1 = ...
store %v0, %p1
%p2 = llvm.safe_cast %p1
store %v1, %p1
store %v2, %p2
%v3 = load %p2, !invariant

The load can be moved above both stores (%v1 and %v2). AFAIK, the invariant metadata tag essentially tells alias analysis not to even try, just assume no aliasing. So the semantics effectively guarantee that %v0==%v1==%v3==%v3. The IR is still “legal” in that it is verifiable, but it is nonsense.

Note that it is also totally valid for an alias analysis to return that they MustAlias. That would allow forwarding from store %v0 to the load. This would have to be implemented as a special case, since the invariant tag normally bypasses pointer analysis. I admit this is weird, but I’m don’t know of any problems it will cause. This can already happen with TBAA, and will be a problem with any metadata that can be abused by the frontend or language design. A difficultly with this approach is that the frontend has the burden for emitting guards anywhere the “invariant” data could be modified.

How do you imagine mixing and matching invariant and non-invariant? I showed some examples of doing that safely, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to you.

-Andy

Ok, I'm catching up on this thread. Let me summarize a couple of things I noticed while reading.

Sanjoy made a good point. We don't actually need a new variant of "invariant.start". Simply using an invariant.start with no uses gives us a notion of an invariant region with no end. (Since the result doesn't escape, there can be no end hidden inside a function call.) This seems like a simple notion to exploit and is strict step forward from where we are, without a new intrinsic.

The notions of "invariant over some range" and "safe to speculate over some range" are related, but distinct. However, to get the most power out of the former, you often need the later.

Yes. Exactly.

Andy seems to be arguing in favour of data flow mostly because it's easier for the optimizer. Unless I'm misreading, there's nothing preventing us from using control flow for the same patterns. For example:
p1 = ...
*p1 = 5
p2 = llvm.safe_cast p1
p3 = select is_constant p2, p1
load p3

Is isomorphic with:
p1 = ...
*p1 = 5
if is_constant:
invariant.start(p1)
load p1

Andy, is this correct? Or am I missing something?

Yes, you are missing my main point. In the first case, you can actually mark load p3 with the !invariant tag. The cast and load don’t need to be in the same scope.

(p.s. You guys seem to be throwing around the terms "!invariant" and "invariant load" without clearly defining them. I'm unsure if you mean the same things.)

Were talking about two things
- loads of data that is known to be immutable, path sensitive
- load that are marked with !invariant metadata (I often say “invariant load” because !invariant looks like “not invariant”)

I suspect this is going to be a topic we should discuss in person at the developers conference or over a beer at a social. It's a bit complicated to keep track of in email.

Definitely.

I am not at all opposed to an assert_immutable intrinsic. I just don’t think it will be performant for the three reasons I stated in the previous email.

In terms of aliasing, it seems like having invariant.start read from it's arguments memory is sufficient. That prevents reorderings of stores to that location before the address to after the invariant.start. Due to conservative aliasing, that might be somewhat harmful, but I don't really see a way to avoid this... (Or is this the point Andy's trying to solve with the data flow?) I don't have a sense for how painful this is. Try it and see?

I could see a useful extension for a function attribute (type?, TBAA?) for describing the return value's invariant fields (*at the point of the return*), but that is more minor goodness for IR size then clearly necessary.

invariant.start/assert_immutable has to write to memory to get the semantics you want. “maythrow” is insufficient (see previous message). I proposed new semantics based on TBAA tags as a partial fix for this problem.

-Andy

I’m coming back to this because it is a sticking point for me in all of the proposals that were floated informally on the commits list. I would really like this to work, but can’t prove that it’s safe.

Given:

%a = newArray()
%pLen = gep(%a, )
invariant.start(, %pLen)
%len = load %pLen

%o = foo() // may deallocate %a
store %something
load %o

I want to claim that the LLVM optimizer cannot do the following (but don’t have a complete line of reasoning yet):

%a = newArray()
%pLen = gep(%a, )
invariant.start(, %pLen)
%len = load %pLen

%o = foo() // may deallocate %a
if ptrtoint(%o) == ptrtoint(%pLen)
load %pLen
store %something // Oops… this might alias
else
store %something
load %o

Either we need to make a convincing argument, or bail on most of the tentative proposals for expressing invariance, and resort to generating IR like this:

%a = newArray()
%pLen = gep(%a, )
%t = invariant.start(, %pLen)
%len = load %pLen

%o = foo() // may deallocate %a
invariant.end(%t, , %pLen)
store %something
load %o

…which is pretty painful to implement and may be very difficult to optimize.

-Andy

As I said in the other thread, !invariant.load and llvm.invariant.* are not the same. This thread is discussing the later, not the former. The other thread is discussing the former, but not the later. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, it would be legal for the optimizer to construct:

As I said in the other thread, !invariant.load and llvm.invariant.* are not the same. This thread is discussing the later, not the former. The other thread is discussing the former, but not the later. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, it would be legal for the optimizer to construct:

It’s fine in the sense that memory access has not been reordered… yet.

But is there an implicit invariant.end(%pLen) at the call to foo(), at which point the array can be freed and another object allocated in its place? I don’t think so. The way I interpreted the conclusion of this email thread is that invariant.start can be used without invariant.end. Since the token returned by the intrinsic never escapes, you can just assume the memory is invariant at all uses. The problem here is that the optimizer could (in theory) introduce new uses of the pointer after the object lifetime. This is the same problem that you yourself have raised. I hoped we could sidestep the problem because it crops up with any representation that attaches invariance to a pointer value. If we have an answer for this, then we can easily debate other representations like broadening !invariant.load metadata semantics and introducing new intrinsics.

-Andy

I think I’ve actually convinced myself my example is not okay, but for a completely different reason. :slight_smile: See my last comment below. Given the current semantics, if the result of the invariant.start is not passed to foo, we can assume foo does not contain an invariant.end. However, for foo to allocate a new object in the same memory, it must write to that memory. Doing so without ending the previous invariant region is ill defined. As such, your example isn’t a valid test. We have two cases: a) The invariant region hasn’t ended. As a result, the input IR is ill defined and the problematic reordering can happen. b) The invariant region ended (and we either encountered a llvm.invariant.end, or saw the result of invariant.start passed to foo). In this case, the location is no longer invariant and the reordering isn’t legal and wouldn’t happen. As I think came up before, this would imply that an invariant.end can’t be dropped without dropping it’s corresponding invariant.start. That’s problematic. We had a proposal for this, but I don’t believe it’s actually been implemented yet. I believe this proposal is still consistent with everything I said above though. I agree there is a general issue here. However, I don’t actually think it’s an issue of invariance. Instead, I see this as being a problem of derefenceability. Regardless of the ‘invariant-ness’ of the memory in question, it’s problematic for the optimizer to insert uses after a deallocation because the memory transitions from dereferenceable to non-dereferenceable. (i.e. Consider a malloc routine allocates one page per object, and a free which protects the page freed.) Any transformation which inserts such a load is dangerous. What your example really shows is that we can have two names for the same memory address. One of those names can be dereferenceable while the other is not. The dynamic check of the pointer values essentially allows the optimizer to chose which of the two names for the same physical address it wants to use. I think that is valid, but it’s odd to say the least. The particular example you’ve shown isn’t legal since the optimizer is choosing to insert a load to a non-dereferenceable location and thus could introduce a fault.