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Re: Importance of transformations that turn data dependencies into control dependencies?

On Wed, 2016-02-24 at 13:14 +0100, Richard Biener wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 8:38 PM, Torvald Riegel <> wrote:
> > I'd like to know, based on the GCC experience, how important we consider
> > optimizations that may turn data dependencies of pointers into control
> > dependencies.  I'm thinking about all optimizations or transformations
> > that guess that a pointer might have a specific value, and then create
> > (specialized) code that assumes this value that is only executed if the
> > pointer actually has this value.  For example:
> >
> > int d[2] = {23, compute_something()};
> >
> > int compute(int v) {
> >   if (likely(v == 23)) return 23;
> >   else <lots of stuff>;
> > }
> >
> > int bar() {
> >   int *p = ptr.load(memory_order_consume);
> >   size_t reveal_that_p_is_in_d = p - d[0];
> >   return compute(*p);
> > }
> >
> > Could be transformed to (after inlining compute(), and specializing for
> > the likely path):
> >
> > int bar() {
> >   int *p = ptr.load(memory_order_consume);
> >   if (p == d) return 23;
> >   else <lots of stuff(*p)>;
> > }
> Note that if a user writes
>   if (p == d)
>    {
>      ... do lots of stuff via p ...
>    }
> GCC might rewrite accesses to p as accesses to d and thus expose
> those opportunities.  Is that a transform that isn't valid then or is
> the code written by the user (establishing the equivalency) to blame?

In the context of this memory_order_consume proposal, this transform
would be valid because the program has already "reveiled" what value p
has after the branch has been taken.

> There's a PR where this kind of equivalencies lead to unexpected (wrong?)
> points-to results for example.
> > Other potential examples that come to mind are de-virtualization, or
> > feedback-directed optimizations that has observed at runtime that a
> > certain pointer is likely to be always equal to some other pointer (eg.,
> > if p is almost always d[0], and specializing for that).
> That's the cases that are quite important in practice.

Could you quantify this somehow, even if it's a very rough estimate?
I'm asking because it's significant and widely used, then this would
require users or compiler implementors to make a difficult trade-off
(ie, do you want mo_consume performance or performance through those
other optimizations?).

> > Also, it would be interesting to me to know how often we may turn data
> > dependencies into control dependencies in cases where this doesn't
> > affect performance significantly.
> I suppose we try to avoid that but can we ever know for sure?  Like
> speculative devirtualization does this (with the intent that it _does_ matter,
> of course).
> I suppose establishing non-dependence isn't an issue, like with the
> vectorizer adding runtime dependence checks and applying versioning
> to get a vectorized and a not vectorized loop (in case there are dependences)?

I'm not sure I understand you correctly.  Do you have a brief example,
perhaps?  For mo_consume and its data dependencies, if there might be a
dependence, the compiler would have to preserve it; but I guess that
both a vectorized loop an one that accessses each element separately
would preserve dependences because it's doing those accesses, and they
depend on the input data.
OTOH, peraps HW vector instructions don't get the ordering guarantees
from data dependences -- Paul, do you know of any such cases?

> > The background for this question is Paul McKenney's recently updated
> > proposal for a different memory_order_consume specification:
> >
> >
> > In a nutshell, this requires a compiler to either prove that a pointer
> > value is not carrying a dependency (simplified, its value somehow
> > originates from a memory_order_consume load), or it has to
> > conservatively assume that it does; if it does, the compiler must not
> > turn data dependencies into control dependencies in generated code.
> > (The data dependencies, in contrast to control dependencies, enforce
> > memory ordering on archs such as Power and ARM; these orderings than
> > allow for not having to use an acquire HW barrier in the generated
> > code.)
> >
> > Given that such a proof will likely be hard for a compiler (dependency
> > chains propagate through assignments to variables on the heap and stack,
> > chains are not marked in the code, and points-to analysis can be hard),
> > a compiler faces a trade-off between either:
> > (1) trying to support this memory_order_consume specification and likely
> > disallowing all transformations that change data dependencies into
> > control dependencies, or
> > (2) not support the proposal by simply emitting memory_order_acquire
> > code, but get no new constraints on transformations in return (ie, what
> > we do for memory_order_consume today).
> >
> > A compiler could let users make this choice, but this will be hard for
> > users too, and the compiler would still have to pick a default.
> >
> > Therefore, it would be good to know how important such transformations
> > or optimizations are in practice.  If they are, it either means somewhat
> > slower code everywhere (or at least having to change much in todays
> > compilers), or not supporting the new memory_order_consume (at least not
> > in the default setting of the compiler).
> IMHO all the memory order semantics are too complicated already so what's
> the reason to complicate it even more...?

The hardware memory models of archs like Power an ARM guarantee ordering
for accesses that have a data dependency, thus allowing things like
traversing a concurrently modified list to not have to use acquire
memory barriers (ie, a programmer could use memory_order_consume instead
of memory_order_acquire).  The Linux kernel uses this heavily in RCU,
for example.  It doesn't matter for archs like x86 where acquire /
release barriers are implicit.

Paul is looking for a solution that would make both the compiler and the
kernel happy; being able to standardize this in C/C++ would be another
good outcome from his perspective, I believe.  For GCC, the former might
also have benefits because we'd have clearer requirements for something
the Linux kernel is using heavily.
The Linux kernel guys seem to be opposed to marking the dependency
chains a program relies on (except for the initial memory_order_consume
load).  I pointed out that this proposal would disallow the
transformations I have asked about in this email, and Paul wanted to
know how important they are.  So I asked here ... :)

If the optimizations that would get disallowed in practice are important
for performance, my inclination would be that we might need a different
proposal for C++ standardization.  For the kernel use case only, it
could nonetheless still be interesting for us to further investigate it;
if the kernel doesn't need these optimizations, we'd at least have a
better understanding of what the kernel expects and what we deliver.

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