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Re: Split Stack performance, signals
- From: Anders Oleson <anders at openpuma dot org>
- To: Ian Lance Taylor <iant at google dot com>, gcc at gcc dot gnu dot org
- Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2015 15:14:03 -0700
- Subject: Re: Split Stack performance, signals
- Authentication-results: sourceware.org; auth=none
- References: <CAKTo2EkTGrb9_ucRVXOVB3FBiVBcqW6qOkHKuxUhZfdFPrjQBA at mail dot gmail dot com> <CAKOQZ8yKXP-75PkEgxqrDMjOqXxUVfe-MRG3o3byUR4AAPSt2g at mail dot gmail dot com>
> It's not so much allowing signal handlers to be split stack. It's handling the case of a signal occurring while the stack is being split. That is not so very unlikely, and it will crash your program, as you get a SIGSEGV while trying to handle whatever signal just arrived.
I see. In what I prototyped, it would work OK if the signals used
limited stack because %rsp is always valid. It's no different than a
regular prolog that updates %rsp, except by an unusual amount.
However, this means first, signal handlers don't have very much
guaranteed slack to run in. You'd have to always keep some minimum.
The other problem is that I didn't consider that the signal handler
itself might want __morestack. There is a tiny window when fs:0x70 and
%rsp, and some links are out-of-sync. This would be dangerous to
Obviously during real allocation (slower path) code, the right thing
is to block signals. Below is all just thoughts on the fast paths.
If there was some way to hook the entry to any/all signal handlers,
this could be detected and fixed there. This would be very useful. Is
there some way to do it?
Regardless, would it be appropriate to either a) point out the big
performance benefit to calling SA_ONSTACK and
__splitstack_block_signals or b) make it even a default for
-fsplit-stack? If there was a way to hook sigaction, the
__splitstack_block_signals could at least be defaulted unless some
user signal was installed. Are there any signals caught by default the
large % of user programs that never call these routines?
Another possibility that option #3, ending on a fixed boundary, from
https://gcc.gnu.org/wiki/SplitStacks. This encodes both the location
of the stack bottom and %rsp into one register which fixes a lot of
the atomic update of %rsp wrt. signals problem. The __morestack would
still have to be quite careful, but I think it would work. I haven't
tried this for performance yet.
I also tried option #5, calling a dedicated function to adjust %rsp
from the prolog, btw. I couldn't get it as fast or small as the
> In C/C++ it requires moving all unions that combine pointers with non-pointers off the stack.
Wouldn't it also mean knowing what globals and heap functions and
casted integers might have references to the stack too? It sounds
pretty impossible to do for C/C++. Presumably Go doesn't have these
On Sun, Sep 13, 2015 at 11:49 AM, Ian Lance Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 12, 2015 at 11:38 PM, Anders Oleson <email@example.com> wrote:
>> From examining the __morestack code, I found that the sigprocmask
>> system call is being called (twice?!) per __morestack, even when it
>> should just need to switch to the next allocated segment. I did read
>> the reason for that change: to allow signal handlers to be
>> split-stack, (ignoring that detail for the moment). A quick experiment
>> shows that removing the calls to __morestack_block_signals and
>> __morestack_unblock_signals brings the overhead of the hot split down
>> to around 60 clocks which is much more reasonable.
> It's not so much allowing signal handlers to be split stack. It's
> handling the case of a signal occurring while the stack is being
> split. That is not so very unlikely, and it will crash your program,
> as you get a SIGSEGV while trying to handle whatever signal just
> gccgo avoids this overhead by marking all signal handlers as
> SA_ONSTACK, calling sigaltstack, and calling
> __splitstack_block_signals to tell the morestack code that it does not
> need to block signals while splitting the stack.
>> However in concept simply switching stack segments *should* not be
>> hugely expensive. I made a proof-of-concept that only does the very
>> minimal work to switch from one segment to another. This is done in
>> assembler (conceptually in __morestack) and eliminates the call out to
>> "C" on the likely hot path where the boundary has already been crossed
>> and the next segment is already big enough. If you cache the details
>> of the next/prev segments (if present) in the space right below the
>> bottom (limit) of each stack segment, you can shrink the time down to
>> 5-6 clocks. This is probably close to the achievable floor, which was
>> in part what I was trying to find out.
>> prolog overhead, no call to __morestack : < 1 clock
>> stock call to __morestack (hot): > 4000 clocks
>> without signal blocking: < 60 clocks
>> potential best case: < 6 clocks
> This sounds great.
>> I have noticed that both Go and Rust have now abandoned the split
>> stack approach due to performance issues. In Go, the idea to have
>> zillions of tiny (go)co-routines or green threads is closer to my
>> interest area than the Rust use. Even on x64, I think there are still
>> reasons for wanting to break out of needing large linear stacks. Or it
>> may be useful to other embedded applications. But in Go, apparently
>> the fix is to copy the stack (all of it?) which seems pretty drastic,
>> expensive and really tricky. At least it would only happen once. I was
>> wondering if there was any thought into doing more work to optimize
>> the -fsplit-stack? Does the Go stack-copy implementation have other
>> Another area I didn't explore was that certain leaf and small routines
>> with known maximum stack usage could avoid needing the prolog.This
>> might ameliorate much of the size issue.
>> Bottom line is that I don't know whether this is something anyone
>> still has any interest in, but in theory at least the "hot-split"
>> problem could be improved significantly. At least I learned what I was
>> trying to, and I put this out in case it is of use/interest to anyone.
> I'm interested in this. But I'm also interested in moving gccgo to
> the stack copying approach. Copying the stack should be cheaper than
> splitting the stack for a long running program. And, as Keith said,
> it makes program performance more predictable, which is valuable in
> Copying the stack requires knowing precisely every pointer on the
> stack. In Go this can be done, since Go has no unions. In C/C++ it
> requires moving all unions that combine pointers with non-pointers off
> the stack.
> Implementing this in GCC will require adding stackmaps with
> pointer/non-pointer bits to the stack unwind information. We'll need
> the information both for the stack frame and for callee-saved
> registers. This will mean that REG_POINTER has to be accurate; I
> don't know whether it really is.