[Dwarf-Discuss] DWARF2 - Endianity issues for DW_AT_bit_offset fields

David Earlam David.Earlam at csr.com
Wed Sep 7 08:36:26 PDT 2011


Anitha, 

I checked two other little-endian 32-bit, octet-addressing C compilers, one producing Dwarf2, one producing Dwarf3.

They both agree with the gcc you used on little-endian x86.

<2><b3>: Abbrev Number: 37 (DW_TAG_member)
   <b4>   DW_AT_name        : l
   <b6>   DW_AT_type        : DW_FORM_ref1 <0x61> "unsigned char"
   <b8>   DW_AT_data_member_location: 2 byte block: 23 1                         (DW_OP_plus_uconst: 1)
   <bb>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 1
   <bc>   DW_AT_bit_size    : 2
   <bd>   DW_AT_bit_offset  : 6


When the bitfield 'l' would have straddled two storage units, the compiler chose to start a new storage unit (C structure packing is implementation- defined). Updates to 'l' then only need access one byte at addr+1 with a mask 0x03.

If the bitfield straddled two bytes, generated code would usually need to access two bytes, shift the first left 1, shift the second right 7, bitwise-or together and maybe mask with 0x03 to form the field into a unsigned char value (or a similar sequence leastwise on a processor without deposit/extract instructions). 

So with that debug_info, the struct test surely looks like this:

 39    32 31    24 23    16 15     8 7      0
 +--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
 | addr+4 | addr+3 | addr+2 | addr+1 | addr+0 |
 +--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
  .................................Ll pKkkkkBA

where p is padding.

That might not be the case for __packed structures, if the compiler has this non-standard extension, which avoid such padding and pack as closely as possible.

According to Dwarf 2.0.0 section 5.5.4 Structure Data Member Entries,
the DW_AT_data_member_location is the address relative to the composite object that most closely encloses the bitfield; so if 'l' straddled that relative address could be DW_OP_plus_uconst 0 or DW_OP_plus_uconst 1, but the DW_AT_bit_offset is always from the MSB of the anonymous addressed object containing the field, so it can be disambiguated, but it is awkward, hence Dwarf v4's new DW_AT_data_bit_offset.


Also, don't rely on DW_AT_byte_size being there. It is optional and you then have to use the size of the container type.

David




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