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SubjectRe: RFC: Link Time Optimization support for the kernel

* Andi Kleen <> wrote:

> On Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 09:48:35AM +0200, Ingo Molnar wrote:
> >
> > * Andi Kleen <> wrote:
> >
> > > This rather large patchkit enables gcc Link Time Optimization (LTO)
> > > support for the kernel.
> > >
> > > With LTO gcc will do whole program optimizations for
> > > the whole kernel and each module. This increases compile time,
> > > but can generate faster code.
> >
> > By how much does it increase compile time?
> All numbers are preliminary at this point. I miss both some
> code quality and compile time improvements that it could do,
> to work around some issues that are fixable.
> Compile time:
> Compilation slowdown depends on the largest binary size. I
> see between 50% and 4x. The 4x case is mainly for allyes (so
> unlikely); a normal distro build, which is mostly modular, or
> a defconfig like build is more towards the 50%.
> Currently I have to disable slim LTO, which essentially means
> everything is compiled twice. Once that's fixed it should
> compile faster for the normal case too (although it will be
> still slower than non LTO)

The other hope would be that if LTO is used by a high-profile
project like the Linux kernel then the compiler folks might look
at it and improve it.

> A lot of the overhead on the larger builds is also some
> specific gcc code that I'm working with the gcc developers on
> to improve. So the 4x extreme case will hopefully go down.
> The large builds also currently suffer from too much memory
> consumption. That will hopefully improve too, as gcc improves.

Are there any LTO build files left around, blowing up the size
of the build tree?

> I wouldn't expect anyone using it for day to day kernel hacking
> (I understand that 50% are annoying for that). It's more like a
> "release build" mode.
> The performance is currently also missing some improvements
> due to workarounds.
> Performance:
> Hackbench goes about 5% faster, so the scheduler benefits.
> Kbuild is not changing much. Various network benchmarks over
> loopback go faster too (best case seen 18%+), so the network
> stack seems to benefit. A lot of micro benchmarks go faster,
> sometimes larger numbers. There are some minor regressions.
> A lot of benchmarking on larger workloads is still
> outstanding. But the existing numbers are promising I believe.
> Things will still change, it's still early.
> I would welcome any benchmarking from other people.
> I also expect gcc to do more LTO optimizations in the future,
> so we'll hopefully see more gains over time. Essentially it
> gives more power to the compiler.
> Long term it would also help the kernel source organization.
> For example there's no reason with LTO to have gigantic
> includes with large inlines, because cross file inlining works
> in a efficient way without reparsing.

Can the current implementation of LTO optimize to the level of
inlining? A lot of our include file hell situation results from
the desire to declare structures publicly so that inlined
functions can use them directly.

If data structures could be encapsulated/internalized to
subsystems and only global functions are exposed to other
subsystems [which are then LTO optimized] then our include
file dependencies could become a *lot* simpler.



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