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SubjectRe: PROPOSAL: Extend inline asm syntax with size spec
Hi!

On Sun, Oct 07, 2018 at 03:53:26PM +0000, Michael Matz wrote:
> On Sun, 7 Oct 2018, Segher Boessenkool wrote:
> > On Sun, Oct 07, 2018 at 11:18:06AM +0200, Borislav Petkov wrote:
> > > this is an attempt to see whether gcc's inline asm heuristic when
> > > estimating inline asm statements' cost for better inlining can be
> > > improved.
> >
> > GCC already estimates the *size* of inline asm, and this is required
> > *for correctness*. So any workaround that works against this will only
> > end in tears.
>
> You're right and wrong. GCC can't even estimate the size of mildly
> complicated inline asms right now, so your claim of it being necessary for
> correctness can't be true in this absolute form. I know what you try to
> say, but still, consider inline asms like this:
>
> insn1
> .section bla
> insn2
> .previous
>
> or
> invoke_asm_macro foo,bar
>
> in both cases GCCs size estimate will be wrong however you want to count
> it. This is actually the motivating example for the kernel guys, the
> games they play within their inline asms make the estimates be wildly
> wrong to a point it interacts with the inliner.

Right. The manual says:

"""
Some targets require that GCC track the size of each instruction used
in order to generate correct code. Because the final length of the
code produced by an @code{asm} statement is only known by the
assembler, GCC must make an estimate as to how big it will be. It
does this by counting the number of instructions in the pattern of the
@code{asm} and multiplying that by the length of the longest
instruction supported by that processor. (When working out the number
of instructions, it assumes that any occurrence of a newline or of
whatever statement separator character is supported by the assembler --
typically @samp{;} --- indicates the end of an instruction.)

Normally, GCC's estimate is adequate to ensure that correct
code is generated, but it is possible to confuse the compiler if you use
pseudo instructions or assembler macros that expand into multiple real
instructions, or if you use assembler directives that expand to more
space in the object file than is needed for a single instruction.
If this happens then the assembler may produce a diagnostic saying that
a label is unreachable.
"""

It *is* necessary for correctness, except you can do things that can
confuse the compiler and then you are on your own anyway.

> > So I guess the real issue is that the inline asm size estimate for x86
> > isn't very good (since it has to be pessimistic, and x86 insns can be
> > huge)?
>
> No, see above, even if we were to improve the size estimates (e.g. based
> on some average instruction size) the kernel examples would still be off
> because they switch sections back and forth, use asm macros and computed
> .fill directives and maybe further stuff. GCC will never be able to
> accurately calculate these sizes

What *is* such a size, anyway? If it can be spread over multiple sections
(some of which support section merging), and you can have huge alignments,
etc. What is needed here is not knowing the maximum size of the binary
output (however you want to define that), but some way for the compiler
to understand how bad it is to inline some assembler. Maybe manual
direction, maybe just the current jeuristics can be tweaked a bit, maybe
we need to invent some attribute or two.

> (without an built-in assembler which hopefully noone proposes).

Not me, that's for sure.

> So, there is a case for extending the inline-asm facility to say
> "size is complicated here, assume this for inline decisions".

Yeah, that's an option. It may be too complicated though, or just not
useful in its generality, so that everyone will use "1" (or "1 normal
size instruction"), and then we are better off just making something
for _that_ (or making it the default).

> > > Now, Richard suggested doing something like:
> > >
> > > 1) inline asm ("...")
> >
> > What would the semantics of this be?
>
> The size of the inline asm wouldn't be counted towards the inliner size
> limits (or be counted as "1").

That sounds like a good option.

> > I don't like 2) either. But 1) looks interesting, depends what its
> > semantics would be? "Don't count this insn's size for inlining decisions",
> > maybe?
>
> TBH, I like the inline asm (...) suggestion most currently, but what if we
> want to add more attributes to asms? We could add further special
> keywords to the clobber list:
> asm ("...." : : : "cc,memory,inline");
> sure, it might seem strange to "clobber" inline, but if we reinterpret the
> clobber list as arbitrary set of attributes for this asm, it'd be fine.

All of a targets register names and alternative register names are
allowed in the clobber list. Will that never conflict with an attribute
name? We already *have* syntax for specifying attributes on an asm (on
*any* statement even), so mixing these two things has no advantage.

Both "cc" and "memory" have their own problems of course, adding more
things to this just feels bad. It may not be so bad ;-)

> > Another option is to just force inlining for those few functions where
> > GCC currently makes an inlining decision you don't like. Or are there
> > more than a few?
>
> I think the examples I saw from Boris were all indirect inlines:
>
> static inline void foo() { asm("large-looking-but-small-asm"); }
> static void bar1() { ... foo() ... }
> static void bar2() { ... foo() ... }
> void goo (void) { bar1(); } // bar1 should have been inlined
>
> So, while the immediate asm user was marked as always inline that in turn
> caused users of it to become non-inlined. I'm assuming the kernel guys
> did proper measurements that they _really_ get some non-trivial speed
> benefit by inlining bar1/bar2, but for some reasons (I didn't inquire)
> didn't want to mark them all as inline as well.

Yeah that makes sense, like if this happens with the fixup stuff, it will
quickly spiral out of control.


Segher

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