I was wondering if there is an example list somewhere of whole program optimizations done by LLVM based compilers?
I'm only familiar with method-level optimizations, and I'm being told wpo can deliver many great speedups.
My language is currently staticly typed JIT based and uses the JVM, and I want to move it over to LLVM so that I can have options where it can be ahead of time compiled as well.
Depending on your use case (and frankly, your budget), you might want to consider Azul Zing's ReadyNow features: http://www.azulsystems.com/solutions/zing/readynow
This isn't true ahead of time compilation, but it would be a way to get most of the benefits of classic ahead of time compilation running on a standards compliant JVM.
(Keep in mind, I work for Azul. I may be slightly biased here.)
I'm hearing bad things about LLVM's JIT capabilities -- specifically that writing your own GC is going to be a pain.
Out of curiosity, where did you hear this?
We are actively working on improving the state of the world here. I'd suggest you take a look at the infrastructure patches currently up for review here: http://reviews.llvm.org/D5683
These will hopefully land within a week or two. At that point, the "gc infrastructure" part should be functional. You'd have to pick a GC (LLVM does not provide one), but you're frontend could emit barriers and statepoints (gc parseable callsites) and everything should work. (Well, modulo bugs! Which I want to know about so we can fix.)
There are a couple of options out there for pluggable GC libraries. The best well known is Boehm's conservative GC, but there are others.
Once that's in, we're planning on landing all of the late safepoint insertion logic we've been working on. This will enable full optimization of code for garbage collected languages - provided you meet a few requirements on the input IR. You can read about it here:
And find the (slightly out of date) code here:
Anyways, sort of diverged there, but still looking for WPO examples!
I'm curious to hear others take here as well. A few things that jump out at me: cross function escape analysis, alias analysis (in support of things like LICM), and cross function constant propagation. Not all of these work out of the box, but with work (sometimes on your side, sometimes an LLVM patch), interesting results can be had.
Fair warning, while getting an LLVM based JIT up and running at peak performance is a worthwhile endeavor (IMHO), it's also a fair amount of work. Getting something functional is relatively straight forward, but there's a lot of non-trivial tuning of your generated IR to really exploit the power of the optimizers well. We've talking person years of work here. Most of this is in the performance tuning phase, and depending on your point of comparison, it may be an easier or harder problem. Essentially, the closer to C performance your current runtime is, the harder you'll have to work. Getting 1/10 of C performance with an untuned LLVM based JIT is pretty easy; the closer you get to C (or JVM) performance the harder it gets.
(Disclaimer: This is me speaking off the top of my head. Take everything I just said with a grain of salt.)