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Value types (Was: [Caml-list] ocamlopt LLVM support)
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Date: 2010-12-12 (21:50)
From: Jon Harrop <jonathandeanharrop@g...>
Subject: RE: Value types (Was: [Caml-list] ocamlopt LLVM support)
Benedict wrote:
> > A C compiler would optimize this to a right shift. Changing that to
> > 'Int64.shift_right n 1' speeds up the code.
> This is easy to fix in ocamlopt (see attached patch ocamlopt-
> natint.patch), by applying the same optimizations already used for
> constant int's to constant natint's (Int64 is Nativeint on 64bit). Note
> however, that "mod 2" is not really "and 1", neither is "div 2"
> equivalent to "lsr 1"; that would be the case for unsigned arithmetic
> (doesn't matter in your example, tho).

That's great. Does it optimize div and mod by any constant integer as C
compilers do?

> >> 1. Unboxing can give huge performance improvements on serial code,
> >
> > s/Unboxing/arithmetic optimizations/
> > Please find an example where the performance benefit is due to
> > unboxing, and not due to arithmetic optimizations performed on the
> > unboxed code.
> The boxing involved is relevant, but boxing in general is not the
> issue. In this special case, the "let nlen, n = if..." code requires
> heap allocation, because of the way the pattern is compiled. This could
> be fixed by moving the condition out of the code and using two if's to
> select n/nlen separately (doesn't speed up that much). Fixing the
> pattern compiler to handle these cases might be interesting for general
> benefit.
> I already mentioned this multiple times, but here we go again: Unboxing
> optimizations may indeed prove useful if applied wisely ( is
> of special interest here, the unboxing optimizations are more or less
> special cases; that could be extended to include interesting cases like
> moving boxing out of if-then-else in return position, etc).
> But (here comes the special "Harrop note") this has absolutely nothing
> to do with LLVM (and of course really, really, really nothing to do
> with HLVM). Using a different data representation for the heap requires
> a nearly complete rewrite of the OCaml system (you would probably need
> to start at the Typing level); if one wants to do this, enjoy and come
> back with code. But even then, data representation issues will have to
> be considered long before it comes to actual code generation (if you
> are serious, you'll have to think about the runtime first prior to
> talking about code generation for a non-existing runtime), so even then
> it has nothing to do with LLVM (or C-- or C or whatever IR you can
> think of).

OCaml programmers can benefit from more appropriate data representations by
using LLVM as a library to generate code from OCaml. HLVM is an example of
this that anyone can play with.

> Combining alloc's across if-then-else constructs further reduces code
> size in your example (and probably other programs as well), see
> attached file ocamlopt-comballoc-ifthenelse.patch. It's quick&dirty,
> but it should illustrate the idea.

I think that is an even more valuable improvement to ocamlopt than the int

> This doesn't mean that LLVM wouldn't be useful (in fact, I've just
> started an LLVM backend for ocamlopt). But it is important to note that
> LLVM is not the solution to everything. As the name implies, it's "low
> level", it does a few "higher level" optimizations for C, but these are
> special cases (and somewhat ugly if you take the time to read the
> code). It won't make a faster OCaml magically, just like it didn't make
> a faster Haskell by itself.


> I could go on by quoting common "Harrop jokes" like "you need types in
> the low-level IR", etc. trying to tell him that this is simply wrong;
> but after reading through the Caml/LISP mailing list archives (thanks
> for the pointers by several readers), I'm pretty much convinced that
> Jon simply decided to end his war against LISP just to start a new one
> against ocamlopt.

Suggesting that OCaml programmers use LLVM as a library because you can get
huge performance gains is hardly a "war against ocamlopt".