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Gmane
From: Mark Seaborn <mseaborn <at> chromium.org>
Subject: Upstreaming PNaCl's IR simplification passes
Newsgroups: gmane.comp.compilers.llvm.devel
Date: Tuesday 4th March 2014 21:04:50 UTC (over 3 years ago)
The PNaCl project has implemented various IR simplification passes that
simplify LLVM IR by lowering complex features to simpler features.  We'd
like to upstream some of these IR passes to LLVM.  We'd like to explore if
this acceptable, and if so, how we should go about doing this.

The immediate reason is that Emscripten is reusing PNaCl's IR passes for
its new "fastcomp" backend [1].  It would be really useful if PNaCl and
Emscripten could collaborate via upstream LLVM rather than a branch.

Some background:  There are two related use cases for these IR
simplification passes:

 1) Simplifying the task of writing a new LLVM backend.  This is
Emscripten's use case.  The IR simplification passes reduce the number of
cases a backend has to handle, so they would be useful for anyone else
creating a new backend.

 2) Using a subset of LLVM IR as a stable distribution format for portable
executables.  This is PNaCl's use case.  PNaCl's IR subset omits various
complex IR features, which we lower using the IR simplification passes [2].
 Renderscript is an example of another project that uses IR as a stable
distribution format, though I think currently Renderscript is not
subsetting IR much.

Some examples of PNaCl's IR simplification passes are:

 * Calling conventions lowering:  ExpandVarArgs and ExpandByVal lower
varargs and by-value argument passing respectively.  They would be useful
for any backend that doesn't want to implement varargs or by-value calling
conventions.

 * Instruction-level lowering:
    * ExpandStructRegs splits up struct values into scalars, removing the
"insertvalue" and "extractvalue" instructions.
    * PromoteIntegers legalizes integer types (e.g. i30 is converted to
i32).

 * Module-level lowering:  This implements, at the IR level, functionality
that is traditionally provided by "ld".  e.g. ExpandCtors lowers
llvm.global_ctors to the __init_array_start and __init_array_end symbols
that are used by C libraries at startup.

PNaCl's IR simplification passes are modular -- most are independent of
each other -- so they allow projects to pick and choose which IR features
to support and which to pre-lower.  The modularity of these passes makes
them low-maintenance and easy to write targeted tests for.

The code for these passes can be found here:
https://chromium.googlesource.com/native_client/pnacl-llvm/+/master/lib/Transforms/NaCl/

There seems to be plenty of precedent for IR-to-IR lowering passes -- LLVM
already contains passes such as LowerInvoke, LowerSwitch and LowerAtomic.

The PNaCl team (which I'm a member of) is happy to take on the work of
maintaining this code, such as updating it as LLVM IR evolves and doing
code reviews.  We would upstream this gradually, pass by pass, so the
changes would be manageable.

Cheers,
Mark

[1] https://github.com/kripken/emscripten/wiki/LLVM-Backend
[2] https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/llvm-dev/lk6dZzwW0ls
- PNaCl
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