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Delay Slot Scheduling

The insn attribute mechanism can be used to specify the requirements for delay slots, if any, on a target machine. An instruction is said to require a delay slot if some instructions that are physically after the instruction are executed as if they were located before it. Classic examples are branch and call instructions, which often execute the following instruction before the branch or call is performed.

On some machines, conditional branch instructions can optionally annul instructions in the delay slot. This means that the instruction will not be executed for certain branch outcomes. Both instructions that annul if the branch is true and instructions that annul if the branch is false are supported.

Delay slot scheduling differs from instruction scheduling in that determining whether an instruction needs a delay slot is dependent only on the type of instruction being generated, not on data flow between the instructions. See the next section for a discussion of data-dependent instruction scheduling.

The requirement of an insn needing one or more delay slots is indicated via the define_delay expression. It has the following form:

     (define_delay test
                   [delay-1 annul-true-1 annul-false-1
                    delay-2 annul-true-2 annul-false-2
                    ...])
     

test is an attribute test that indicates whether this define_delay applies to a particular insn. If so, the number of required delay slots is determined by the length of the vector specified as the second argument. An insn placed in delay slot n must satisfy attribute test delay-n. annul-true-n is an attribute test that specifies which insns may be annulled if the branch is true. Similarly, annul-false-n specifies which insns in the delay slot may be annulled if the branch is false. If annulling is not supported for that delay slot, (nil) should be coded.

For example, in the common case where branch and call insns require a single delay slot, which may contain any insn other than a branch or call, the following would be placed in the md file:

     (define_delay (eq_attr "type" "branch,call")
                   [(eq_attr "type" "!branch,call") (nil) (nil)])
     

Multiple define_delay expressions may be specified. In this case, each such expression specifies different delay slot requirements and there must be no insn for which tests in two define_delay expressions are both true.

For example, if we have a machine that requires one delay slot for branches but two for calls, no delay slot can contain a branch or call insn, and any valid insn in the delay slot for the branch can be annulled if the branch is true, we might represent this as follows:

     (define_delay (eq_attr "type" "branch")
        [(eq_attr "type" "!branch,call")
         (eq_attr "type" "!branch,call")
         (nil)])
     
     (define_delay (eq_attr "type" "call")
                   [(eq_attr "type" "!branch,call") (nil) (nil)
                    (eq_attr "type" "!branch,call") (nil) (nil)])