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[RFC] COMDAT Safe Module Level Multi versioning

We have the following problem with selectively compiling modules with
-m<isa> options and I have provided a solution to solve this.  I would
like to hear what you think.

Multi versioning at module granularity is done by compiling a subset
of modules with advanced ISA instructions, supported on later
generations of the target architecture, via -m<isa> options and
invoking the functions defined in these modules with explicit checks
for the ISA support via builtin functions,  __builtin_cpu_supports.
This mechanism has the unfortunate side-effect that generated COMDAT
candidates from these modules can contain these advanced instructions
and potentially âviolateâ ODR assumptions.  Choosing such a COMDAT
candidate over a generic one from a different module can cause SIGILL
on platforms where the advanced ISA is not supported.

Here is a slightly contrived  example to illustrate:

// Template (Comdat) function definition in a header:

template<typename T>
void matrixDouble (T *a) {
  for (int i = 0 ; i < 16; ++i)  //Vectorizable Loop
    a[i] = a[i] * 2;
}  (Compile with -mavx -O2)

#include "matrixdouble.h"
void getDoubleAVX(int *a) {
 matrixDouble(a);  // Instantiated with vectorized AVX instructions
} (Compile with -mno-avx -O2)

#include âmatrixdouble.hâ
getDouble(int *a) {
 matrixDouble(a); // Instantiated with non-AVX instructions

void getDoubleAVX(int *a);
void getDouble(int *a);

int a[] = { 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 };
int main () {
 // The AVX call is appropriately guarded.
 if (__builtin_cpu_supports(âavxâ))
 return a[0];

In the above code, function âgetDoubleAVXâ is only called when the
run-time CPU supports AVX instructions.  This code looks clean but
suffers from the COMDAT ODR violation.  Two copies of COMDAT function
âmatrixDoubleâ are generated.  One copy is generated in object file
âavx.oâ with AVX instructions and another copy exists in ânon_avx.oâ
without AVX instruction.  At link time, in a link order where object
file avx.o is seen ahead of  non_avx.o,  the COMDAT copy of function
âmatrixDoubleâ that contains AVX instructions is kept leading to
SIGILL on unsupported platforms.  To reproduce the SIGILL,

$  g++ -c -O2 -mavx
$ g++ -c -O2 -mno-avx
$  g++ avx.o non_avx.o
$ ./a.out   # on a non-AVX machine
Illegal Instruction

To solve this, I propose introducing a new compiler option, say
-fodr-unsafe-comdats, to let the user tag objects that use specialized
options and let the linker choose the comdat candidate to be linked
wisely.  The root cause of the above problem is that comdat functions
in common headers may not be properly guarded and the linker picks the
first candidate it sees.  A link order where the object with the
specialized comdat functions appear first causes these comdats to be
picked leading to SIGILL on unsupported arches.  With the objects
tagged, the linker can be made to pick other comdat candidates when

More details:

This option is user specified when using arch specific options like
-m<isa>.  It is an indicator to the compiler that any comdat bodies
generated are potentially unsafe for execution.  Note that the COMDAT
bodies however have to be generated as there are no guarantees that
other modules will do so.  The compiler then emits a specially named
section, like â.gnu.odr.unsafeâ, in the object file.  When the linker
tries to pick a COMDAT candidate from several choices, it must avoid
COMDAT copies from objects with sections named â.gnu.odr.unsafeâ when
presented with a choice to pick a candidate from an object that does
not have the â.gnu.odr.unsafeâ section.  Note that it may not be
possible to do that in which case the linker must pick the unsafe
copy, it could explicitly warn when this happens.

Alternately,  the compiler can bind locally any emitted comdat version
from a specialized module, which could also be guarded by an option.
This will solve the problem but this may not be always possible
especially when addresses of any such comdat version is taken.


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