[Dwarf-Discuss] multiple entry points for inlined subroutines?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Fri Aug 11 06:25:17 PDT 2017

I've been working on generating more precise entry points for inlined
subroutines in GCC.

One of the goals of this was to provide the debug info consumer with a
view number, in addition to the address (more on that later), but
working on this, I found out that in several cases a single inlining of
a function ends up having some basic blocks replicated, including those
holding the entry point, and we have no way to represent the multiple
addresses.  This may often occur when a loop containing an inlined
function is unrolled, but it doesn't actually require unrolling: other
simpler CFG transformations that duplicate blocks in whole or in part
are enough to get some inlined entry points (but not necessarily entire
inlined functions) duplicated.

When an inlined function is duplicated as a whole, I guess it is just
reasonable to represent it as multiple inlinings of the same function,
this is not always the case: I have observed cases in which little more
than the entry point got duplicated into two separate branches.
However, even in the unrolling case, it is often the case that all
instances end up sharing the same automatic variables, except when the
intent is to have separate per-iteration variables for e.g. swing modulo
scheduling or other forms of iteration pipelining.  Such variable
replication comes with its own set of challenges, that I'm not focusing
on for the time being.  For now, I'm thinking of duplication of code
within the same subprogram without the introduction of additional copies
of variables.

In this scenario, each inlined function comes with its own set of
lexical blocks and local variables, even if unrolling and whatnot ends
up creating multiple copies of each use of such variables.

Ideally, I'd like to inform debug information consumers about all
inlined entry points, even when multiple such entry points are
associated with the same inlined instance of the function.  But AFAICT
DW_AT_entry_pc can only hold one address or offset.

I've considered several representations:

- multiple DW_AT_entry_pc attributes in the same DIE -> not permitted 2.2

- multiple lexical blocks with abstract origin pointing to the abstract
function, each with a separate entry point -> no good, the lexical block
tree will be misrepresented or replicated

- using an exprloc form, composing an array of entry addresses with
multiple DW_OP_piece expression -> not a very compact representation,
and hardly a natural extension

- abuse range lists having DW_AT_entry_pc reference one such list, with
two entry points per range entry -> not an unreasonable extension, but
readers might be confused if ranges are reversed, or if we have an odd
number of entry points

- likewise, but having a single entry point per range entry, wasting the
other address -> no problem with odd counts, but wasteful

- allow an address list form (addrptr class?) to be used in
DW_AT_entry_pc, with some convention to terminate the list -> this would
work AFAICT.  Is there any reason to not propose this for consideration
in DWARF6?

Any other thoughts on the isuse of representing multiple entry points
for an inlined subroutine, or even for lexical blocks or regular

On to adding view numbers to addresses.

I don't think it's just location list addresses and inline entry points
that could gain in precision being augmented with view numbers.  So far,
I have proposed an extension to record view numbers in location lists,
and I'm now introducing a GNU extended attribute to hold the view number
associated with an DW_AT_entry_pc in the same DIE.

One issue I'm running into is that view numbers are often computed by
the assembler, and encoded as uleb128 numbers.  GCC, however, wants to
compute the sizes and offsets of DIEs itself.  All existing sdata- and
udata-encoded attributes ever emitted by GCC are ones that it can
compute as constants itself; not so when it comes to view numbers.

Anyway, keeping DIE sizes compiler-computed constants is an issue I've
run into, and it becomes a larger concern once I start considering
proposing an attribute class that holds an address and a view.

Aside from the issue of compiler-computed DIE sizes and offsets, some
other lists that hold addresses want to be aligned, to simplify address
relocations and whatnot.  Once we add view numbers encoded as uleb128,
any hope for alignment is gone.  We might represent view numbers at the
same alignment, to keep them in the same sections, but that would likely
be wasteful.

Using a single indirect representations for both the address and the
view number, or a separate indirect reference to each, all have their
downsides, and even for long lists of such pairs, referencing a list of
addresses (good) and a list of views (erhm) so that corresponding
entries of each list are combined into tuples leaves something to be

I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to introduce compactly-represented
view numbers in most places where code addresses or address ranges could
be used.  Have these difficulties been run into before?  Any advice to

Thanks in advance,

Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter    http://FSFLA.org/~lxoliva/
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! -- http://FSFLA.org/   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist|Red Hat Brasil GNU Toolchain Engineer

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