# RFC: Hotness thresholds in profile header

Hi,

The problem we’re trying to address:

PGO transforms that are based on block counts need some way to answer isHotBlock() query. A simple comparison of the form block_count > N, for some constant N is not useful since even for the same program different profile inputs can cause different answers for isHotBlock() on the same block. This can be addressed by comparing against a reference value that depends on the program and its input. For instance, the indexed profile header contains MaxFunctionCount and isHotBlock() could check if the block count exceeds a certain fraction of MaxFunctionCount.

The drawback of this approach is that it is difficult to come up with a single fraction that works both for programs with a few hot-spots and programs with a long tail of block execution counts. Consider the following two profiles both with a MaxFunctionCount of 1000. In the first case, there are many blocks with count 100 and those (along with the function with count 1000) account for 99% of execution time. In the second case, there are many blocks with count 1000 that together account for 99% of execution time, but there are also a non-trivial number of blocks with count 100. In the first case, we would like the hotness threshold to be 100 (or 10% of MaxFunctionCount), but in the second case, we want it to be 1000 (100% of MaxFunctionCount).

Our proposal:

We want to define hot blocks as those that account for a large percentage(P) of execution time of the program. We then make a simplistic assumption that all blocks take the same amount of time to execute. With this assumption, the execution time of the program can be approximated by the sum of execution counts of the blocks in the program. We can then compute a maximum threshold T(P) such that execution counts of blocks whose count is >= T(P) account for P percentage of total block count.

To illustrate, let {B1…B5} be the set of blocks whose counts are {1, 0, 2, 2, 5}. For this example:

T(50) = 5 since {B5} accounts for 50% of total block count.
T(90) = 2 since {B3, B4, B5} has a cumulative count of 9 which is 90% of total block count.
T(95) = 1 since all blocks with non-zero block counts are needed to account for >=95% of total block count.

We propose to record a vector of triples {P, T(P), B(P)}, where B(P) is the number of blocks with count >= T(P), for a set of pre-defined number of values of P into the header of the indexed profile. A possible set of values of P are 90, 95, 99, 99.9, 99.99, but this should be configurable through profdata tool. The B(P) above could be useful to optimization passes in making size/performance tradeoffs. For example, if S is the average block size and SB(95) fits well within cache, but SB(99) well exceeds the cache size, an optimization like loop unroller could choose to use T(95) as the threshold to avoid heavy cache misses.

The {P, T(P), B(P)} triples have to be attached to the module. A common API would be added to retrieve the set of available Ps and {T(P), B(P)} pair for a given P for all flavors (front-end, IR level and sample) of profiles.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Easwaran (with inputs from Teresa Johnson and David Li)

I’ve done similar rankings with profile data and found it worked out pretty well.

In my case it was ranking function hotness but the idea was similar: sort by weight, compute various percentile cutoff points, and use those to classify. I put in some compensation for truly degenerate cases. Consider one super-hot function that is 100x the weight of all remaining functions – I’d just call that function hot and subtract it out of the distribution and so spread a bit of the hotness around elsewhere.

Also, you should think about how to handle ties, so your sorting & ranking is “stable” somehow.

Hi Easwaran,

I like this idea. It seems nicer than picking a constant 'hot' threshold block
count or fraction of MaxFunctionCount.

Some concerns:

(1) Passes may need different T(P) to do useful work. You mentioned
including a list of {P, T(P), B(P)} triples in the profdata file to deal
with this, but such a list may not be exhaustive/sufficient.

Would it be better to encode a cumulative block-count histogram in the
header? It would take O(blocks) time to generate it when writing out the
indexed file. After normalization it could be used to answer `compute-T(P)`
queries very quickly. It could also makes it more convenient to generate
profdata files, since you wouldn't have to specify the P you care about.

(2) Some profdata files will not include T(P) information.

Will passes degrade gracefully in the absence of this information?

IMO we'd need an API like `getBlockHotness() -> {Hot, NotHot, Unknown}`.

(3) + 1 to Andy Ayers' concern about smoothing the data.

What do you think of removing the top and bottom 1% of blocks from
consideration?

thanks
vedant

Hi Easwaran,

I like this idea. It seems nicer than picking a constant 'hot' threshold block
count or fraction of MaxFunctionCount.

Some concerns:

(1) Passes may need different T(P) to do useful work. You mentioned
including a list of {P, T(P), B(P)} triples in the profdata file to deal
with this, but such a list may not be exhaustive/sufficient.

Would it be better to encode a cumulative block-count histogram in the
header? It would take O(blocks) time to generate it when writing out the
indexed file. After normalization it could be used to answer `compute-T(P)`
queries very quickly. It could also makes it more convenient to generate
profdata files, since you wouldn't have to specify the P you care about.

It is doable and it does not cost much in terms of profile data size.
However in practice, we find that kind of flexibility does not buy us
too much compared with the limited set of precomputed cutoff values.

(2) Some profdata files will not include T(P) information.

Yes old profile data won't have it -- there are ways to mitigate it:
a) rewrite the profile data using llvm-profdata merge command -- the
old profile data (older version) will then be upgraded
b) use the existing the max entry count to approximate.

Will passes degrade gracefully in the absence of this information?

Suppose new passes are now all aware of new profile summary. In
absence of them, they should not do worse than before when they are
not aware of such summary.

IMO we'd need an API like `getBlockHotness() -> {Hot, NotHot, Unknown}`.

(3) + 1 to Andy Ayers' concern about smoothing the data.

What do you think of removing the top and bottom 1% of blocks from
consideration?

See my reply to Andy's reply, I don't think that is necessary -- but
an option can be added to experiment with it.

thanks,

David

I’ve done similar rankings with profile data and found it worked out pretty
well.

In my case it was ranking function hotness but the idea was similar: sort by
weight, compute various percentile cutoff points, and use those to classify.
I put in some compensation for truly degenerate cases. Consider one
super-hot function that is 100x the weight of all remaining functions – I’d
just call that function hot and subtract it out of the distribution and so
spread a bit of the hotness around elsewhere.

This is probably more important if we only consider function entry
count (to measure hotness). With Easwaran's proposal, the cut-off
computation is based on sum of BB counts (sorted in descending order)
-- the BB count sum approximate the execution time spent in those BBs.
For instance, if 99.9% of execution time is spent in top 10 BBs, the
rest BBs are pretty much irrelevant in terms of performance.

thanks,
David

While your bb count distribution is extremely likely to be some kind of power-law like distribution, it's not guaranteed.

Also you might think about operations that can amplify (rerolling) or appear to amplify (TRE) or diminish BB counts, and how you'd go about reclassifying block hotness.

While your bb count distribution is extremely likely to be some kind of power-law like distribution, it's not guaranteed.

Also you might think about operations that can amplify (rerolling) or appear to amplify (TRE) or diminish BB counts, and how you'd go about reclassifying block hotness.

yes -- this is more of a problem for Sample based FDO because the
samples are collected after such transformations. We have a paper
discussing that (to appear cgo2016).

thanks,

Dvaid

I have a patch at http://reviews.llvm.org/D16005 that implements this feature as part of ‘show’ command of the llvm-profdata. I think it’ll be useful to implement this as part of show so that it can be tried on profiles of programs that people care about and refine it before getting this information into the header of the indexed profile.

Can you submit the patch for review?

David