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Re: patch to fix rtl documentation for new floating point comparisons


On Tue, 17 Feb 2015, Kenneth Zadeck wrote:

> The fp exceptions raise some very tricky issues with respect to gcc and 
> optimization.  On many machines, noisy does not mean to throw an 
> exception, it means that you set a bit and then check later.  If you try 
> to model this kind of behavior in gcc, you end up pinning the code so 
> that nothing can be moved or reordered.

When I say exception here, I'm always referring to that flag bit setting, 
not to processor-level exceptions.  In IEEE 754 terms, an exception is 
*signaled*, and the default exception handling is to *raise* a flag and 
deliver a default result (except for exact underflow which doesn't raise 
the flag).

To quote Annex F, "This specification does not require support for trap 
handlers that maintain information about the order or count of 
floating-point exceptions. Therefore, between function calls, 
floating-point exceptions need not be precise: the actual order and number 
of occurrences of floating-point exceptions (> 1) may vary from what the 
source code expresses.".  So it is not necessary to be concerned about 
configurations where trap handlers may be called.

There is as yet no public draft of TS 18661-5 (Supplementary attributes).  
That will provide C bindings for alternate exception handling as described 
in IEEE 754-2008 clause 8.  I suspect such bindings will not readily be 
efficiently implementable using processor-level exception handlers; SIGFPE 
is an awkward interface for implementing such things at the C language 
level, some processors do not support such trap handlers at all (e.g. many 
ARM processors), and where traps are supported they may be asynchronous 
rather than occurring immediately on execution of the relevant 
instruction.  In addition, at least x86 does not support raising exception 
flags without running trap handlers on the next floating-point instruction 
(raiseFlags operation, fesetexcept in TS 18661-1); that is, if trap 
handlers were used to implement standard functionality, it would need to 
be in a way such that this x86 peculiarity is not visible.

> to get this right gcc needs something like a monotonic dependency which 
> would allow reordering and gcc has nothing like this.  essentially, you 
> need way to say that all of these insns modify the same variable, but 
> they all just move the value in the same direction so you do not care 
> what order the operations are performed in.  that does not mean that 
> this could not be added but gcc has nothing like this.

Indeed, this is one of the things about defining the default mode that I 
referred to; the present default is -ftrapping-math, but we may wish to 
distinguish between strict trapping-math (whenever exception flags might 
be tested / raised / lowered, exactly the computations specified by the 
abstract machine have occurred, which might mean rather more limits on 
code movement in the absence of monotonic dependencies) and loose trapping 
math (like the present default; maybe don't transform expressions locally 
in ways that add or remove exceptions, but don't treat an expression as 
having side effects or reading global state purely because of possible 
raising of floating-point exceptions).

> going back to the rounding modes issue, there is a huge range in the 
> architectural implementation space.  you have a few that are pure 
> dynamic, a few that are pure static and some in the middle that are just 
> a mess.  a lot of machines would have liked to support fully static, but 
> could not fit the bits to specify the rounding modes into the 
> instruction.  my point here is you do need to at least have a plan that 
> will support the full space even if you do this with a 1000 small 
> patches.

I think the norm is dynamic, because that's what was in IEEE 754-1985, 
with static rounding added more recently on some processors, because of 
IEEE 754-2008.  (There are other variants - IA64 having multiple dynamic 
rounding mode registers and allowing instructions to specify which one the 
rounding mode is taken from.)

-- 
Joseph S. Myers
joseph@codesourcery.com


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