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Tiny Code Generator - Fabrice Bellard.
1) Introduction
TCG (Tiny Code Generator) began as a generic backend for a C
compiler. It was simplified to be used in QEMU. It also has its roots
in the QOP code generator written by Paul Brook.
2) Definitions
The TCG "target" is the architecture for which we generate the
code. It is of course not the same as the "target" of QEMU which is
the emulated architecture. As TCG started as a generic C backend used
for cross compiling, it is assumed that the TCG target is different
from the host, although it is never the case for QEMU.
In this document, we use "guest" to specify what architecture we are
emulating; "target" always means the TCG target, the machine on which
we are running QEMU.
A TCG "function" corresponds to a QEMU Translated Block (TB).
A TCG "temporary" is a variable only live in a basic
block. Temporaries are allocated explicitly in each function.
A TCG "local temporary" is a variable only live in a function. Local
temporaries are allocated explicitly in each function.
A TCG "global" is a variable which is live in all the functions
(equivalent of a C global variable). They are defined before the
functions defined. A TCG global can be a memory location (e.g. a QEMU
CPU register), a fixed host register (e.g. the QEMU CPU state pointer)
or a memory location which is stored in a register outside QEMU TBs
(not implemented yet).
A TCG "basic block" corresponds to a list of instructions terminated
by a branch instruction.
An operation with "undefined behavior" may result in a crash.
An operation with "unspecified behavior" shall not crash. However,
the result may be one of several possibilities so may be considered
an "undefined result".
3) Intermediate representation
3.1) Introduction
TCG instructions operate on variables which are temporaries, local
temporaries or globals. TCG instructions and variables are strongly
typed. Two types are supported: 32 bit integers and 64 bit
integers. Pointers are defined as an alias to 32 bit or 64 bit
integers depending on the TCG target word size.
Each instruction has a fixed number of output variable operands, input
variable operands and always constant operands.
The notable exception is the call instruction which has a variable
number of outputs and inputs.
In the textual form, output operands usually come first, followed by
input operands, followed by constant operands. The output type is
included in the instruction name. Constants are prefixed with a '$'.
add_i32 t0, t1, t2 (t0 <- t1 + t2)
3.2) Assumptions
* Basic blocks
- Basic blocks end after branches (e.g. brcond_i32 instruction),
goto_tb and exit_tb instructions.
- Basic blocks start after the end of a previous basic block, or at a
set_label instruction.
After the end of a basic block, the content of temporaries is
destroyed, but local temporaries and globals are preserved.
* Floating point types are not supported yet
* Pointers: depending on the TCG target, pointer size is 32 bit or 64
bit. The type TCG_TYPE_PTR is an alias to TCG_TYPE_I32 or
* Helpers:
Using the tcg_gen_helper_x_y it is possible to call any function
taking i32, i64 or pointer types. By default, before calling a helper,
all globals are stored at their canonical location and it is assumed
that the function can modify them. By default, the helper is allowed to
modify the CPU state or raise an exception.
This can be overridden using the following function modifiers:
- TCG_CALL_NO_READ_GLOBALS means that the helper does not read globals,
either directly or via an exception. They will not be saved to their
canonical locations before calling the helper.
- TCG_CALL_NO_WRITE_GLOBALS means that the helper does not modify any globals.
They will only be saved to their canonical location before calling helpers,
but they won't be reloaded afterwise.
- TCG_CALL_NO_SIDE_EFFECTS means that the call to the function is removed if
the return value is not used.
On some TCG targets (e.g. x86), several calling conventions are
* Branches:
Use the instruction 'br' to jump to a label.
3.3) Code Optimizations
When generating instructions, you can count on at least the following
- Single instructions are simplified, e.g.
and_i32 t0, t0, $0xffffffff
is suppressed.
- A liveness analysis is done at the basic block level. The
information is used to suppress moves from a dead variable to
another one. It is also used to remove instructions which compute
dead results. The later is especially useful for condition code
optimization in QEMU.
In the following example:
add_i32 t0, t1, t2
add_i32 t0, t0, $1
mov_i32 t0, $1
only the last instruction is kept.
3.4) Instruction Reference
********* Function call
* call <ret> <params> ptr
call function 'ptr' (pointer type)
<ret> optional 32 bit or 64 bit return value
<params> optional 32 bit or 64 bit parameters
********* Jumps/Labels
* set_label $label
Define label 'label' at the current program point.
* br $label
Jump to label.
* brcond_i32/i64 t0, t1, cond, label
Conditional jump if t0 cond t1 is true. cond can be:
TCG_COND_LT /* signed */
TCG_COND_GE /* signed */
TCG_COND_LE /* signed */
TCG_COND_GT /* signed */
TCG_COND_LTU /* unsigned */
TCG_COND_GEU /* unsigned */
TCG_COND_LEU /* unsigned */
TCG_COND_GTU /* unsigned */
********* Arithmetic
* add_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* sub_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* neg_i32/i64 t0, t1
t0=-t1 (two's complement)
* mul_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* div_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1/t2 (signed). Undefined behavior if division by zero or overflow.
* divu_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1/t2 (unsigned). Undefined behavior if division by zero.
* rem_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1%t2 (signed). Undefined behavior if division by zero or overflow.
* remu_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1%t2 (unsigned). Undefined behavior if division by zero.
********* Logical
* and_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* or_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* xor_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* not_i32/i64 t0, t1
* andc_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* eqv_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=~(t1^t2), or equivalently, t0=t1^~t2
* nand_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* nor_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
* orc_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
********* Shifts/Rotates
* shl_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1 << t2. Unspecified behavior if t2 < 0 or t2 >= 32 (resp 64)
* shr_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1 >> t2 (unsigned). Unspecified behavior if t2 < 0 or t2 >= 32 (resp 64)
* sar_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
t0=t1 >> t2 (signed). Unspecified behavior if t2 < 0 or t2 >= 32 (resp 64)
* rotl_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
Rotation of t2 bits to the left.
Unspecified behavior if t2 < 0 or t2 >= 32 (resp 64)
* rotr_i32/i64 t0, t1, t2
Rotation of t2 bits to the right.
Unspecified behavior if t2 < 0 or t2 >= 32 (resp 64)
********* Misc
* mov_i32/i64 t0, t1
t0 = t1
Move t1 to t0 (both operands must have the same type).
* ext8s_i32/i64 t0, t1
ext8u_i32/i64 t0, t1
ext16s_i32/i64 t0, t1
ext16u_i32/i64 t0, t1
ext32s_i64 t0, t1
ext32u_i64 t0, t1
8, 16 or 32 bit sign/zero extension (both operands must have the same type)
* bswap16_i32/i64 t0, t1
16 bit byte swap on a 32/64 bit value. It assumes that the two/six high order
bytes are set to zero.
* bswap32_i32/i64 t0, t1
32 bit byte swap on a 32/64 bit value. With a 64 bit value, it assumes that
the four high order bytes are set to zero.
* bswap64_i64 t0, t1
64 bit byte swap
* discard_i32/i64 t0
Indicate that the value of t0 won't be used later. It is useful to
force dead code elimination.
* deposit_i32/i64 dest, t1, t2, pos, len
Deposit T2 as a bitfield into T1, placing the result in DEST.
The bitfield is described by POS/LEN, which are immediate values:
LEN - the length of the bitfield
POS - the position of the first bit, counting from the LSB
For example, pos=8, len=4 indicates a 4-bit field at bit 8.
This operation would be equivalent to
dest = (t1 & ~0x0f00) | ((t2 << 8) & 0x0f00)
* trunc_shr_i32 t0, t1, pos
For 64-bit hosts only, right shift the 64-bit input T1 by POS and
truncate to 32-bit output T0. Depending on the host, this may be
a simple mov/shift, or may require additional canonicalization.
********* Conditional moves
* setcond_i32/i64 dest, t1, t2, cond
dest = (t1 cond t2)
Set DEST to 1 if (T1 cond T2) is true, otherwise set to 0.
* movcond_i32/i64 dest, c1, c2, v1, v2, cond
dest = (c1 cond c2 ? v1 : v2)
Set DEST to V1 if (C1 cond C2) is true, otherwise set to V2.
********* Type conversions
* ext_i32_i64 t0, t1
Convert t1 (32 bit) to t0 (64 bit) and does sign extension
* extu_i32_i64 t0, t1
Convert t1 (32 bit) to t0 (64 bit) and does zero extension
* trunc_i64_i32 t0, t1
Truncate t1 (64 bit) to t0 (32 bit)
* concat_i32_i64 t0, t1, t2
Construct t0 (64-bit) taking the low half from t1 (32 bit) and the high half
from t2 (32 bit).
* concat32_i64 t0, t1, t2
Construct t0 (64-bit) taking the low half from t1 (64 bit) and the high half
from t2 (64 bit).
********* Load/Store
* ld_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
ld8s_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
ld8u_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
ld16s_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
ld16u_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
ld32s_i64 t0, t1, offset
ld32u_i64 t0, t1, offset
t0 = read(t1 + offset)
Load 8, 16, 32 or 64 bits with or without sign extension from host memory.
offset must be a constant.
* st_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
st8_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
st16_i32/i64 t0, t1, offset
st32_i64 t0, t1, offset
write(t0, t1 + offset)
Write 8, 16, 32 or 64 bits to host memory.
All this opcodes assume that the pointed host memory doesn't correspond
to a global. In the latter case the behaviour is unpredictable.
********* Multiword arithmetic support
* add2_i32/i64 t0_low, t0_high, t1_low, t1_high, t2_low, t2_high
* sub2_i32/i64 t0_low, t0_high, t1_low, t1_high, t2_low, t2_high
Similar to add/sub, except that the double-word inputs T1 and T2 are
formed from two single-word arguments, and the double-word output T0
is returned in two single-word outputs.
* mulu2_i32/i64 t0_low, t0_high, t1, t2
Similar to mul, except two unsigned inputs T1 and T2 yielding the full
double-word product T0. The later is returned in two single-word outputs.
* muls2_i32/i64 t0_low, t0_high, t1, t2
Similar to mulu2, except the two inputs T1 and T2 are signed.
********* 64-bit guest on 32-bit host support
The following opcodes are internal to TCG. Thus they are to be implemented by
32-bit host code generators, but are not to be emitted by guest translators.
They are emitted as needed by inline functions within "tcg-op.h".
* brcond2_i32 t0_low, t0_high, t1_low, t1_high, cond, label
Similar to brcond, except that the 64-bit values T0 and T1
are formed from two 32-bit arguments.
* setcond2_i32 dest, t1_low, t1_high, t2_low, t2_high, cond
Similar to setcond, except that the 64-bit values T1 and T2 are
formed from two 32-bit arguments. The result is a 32-bit value.
********* QEMU specific operations
* exit_tb t0
Exit the current TB and return the value t0 (word type).
* goto_tb index
Exit the current TB and jump to the TB index 'index' (constant) if the
current TB was linked to this TB. Otherwise execute the next
instructions. Only indices 0 and 1 are valid and tcg_gen_goto_tb may be issued
at most once with each slot index per TB.
* qemu_ld_i32/i64 t0, t1, flags, memidx
* qemu_st_i32/i64 t0, t1, flags, memidx
Load data at the guest address t1 into t0, or store data in t0 at guest
address t1. The _i32/_i64 size applies to the size of the input/output
register t0 only. The address t1 is always sized according to the guest,
and the width of the memory operation is controlled by flags.
Both t0 and t1 may be split into little-endian ordered pairs of registers
if dealing with 64-bit quantities on a 32-bit host.
The memidx selects the qemu tlb index to use (e.g. user or kernel access).
The flags are the TCGMemOp bits, selecting the sign, width, and endianness
of the memory access.
For a 32-bit host, qemu_ld/st_i64 is guaranteed to only be used with a
64-bit memory access specified in flags.
Note 1: Some shortcuts are defined when the last operand is known to be
a constant (e.g. addi for add, movi for mov).
Note 2: When using TCG, the opcodes must never be generated directly
as some of them may not be available as "real" opcodes. Always use the
function tcg_gen_xxx(args).
4) Backend
tcg-target.h contains the target specific definitions. tcg-target.c
contains the target specific code.
4.1) Assumptions
The target word size (TCG_TARGET_REG_BITS) is expected to be 32 bit or
64 bit. It is expected that the pointer has the same size as the word.
On a 32 bit target, all 64 bit operations are converted to 32 bits. A
few specific operations must be implemented to allow it (see add2_i32,
sub2_i32, brcond2_i32).
Floating point operations are not supported in this version. A
previous incarnation of the code generator had full support of them,
but it is better to concentrate on integer operations first.
On a 64 bit target, no assumption is made in TCG about the storage of
the 32 bit values in 64 bit registers.
4.2) Constraints
GCC like constraints are used to define the constraints of every
instruction. Memory constraints are not supported in this
version. Aliases are specified in the input operands as for GCC.
The same register may be used for both an input and an output, even when
they are not explicitly aliased. If an op expands to multiple target
instructions then care must be taken to avoid clobbering input values.
GCC style "early clobber" outputs are not currently supported.
A target can define specific register or constant constraints. If an
operation uses a constant input constraint which does not allow all
constants, it must also accept registers in order to have a fallback.
The movi_i32 and movi_i64 operations must accept any constants.
The mov_i32 and mov_i64 operations must accept any registers of the
same type.
The ld/st instructions must accept signed 32 bit constant offsets. It
can be implemented by reserving a specific register to compute the
address if the offset is too big.
The ld/st instructions must accept any destination (ld) or source (st)
4.3) Function call assumptions
- The only supported types for parameters and return value are: 32 and
64 bit integers and pointer.
- The stack grows downwards.
- The first N parameters are passed in registers.
- The next parameters are passed on the stack by storing them as words.
- Some registers are clobbered during the call.
- The function can return 0 or 1 value in registers. On a 32 bit
target, functions must be able to return 2 values in registers for
64 bit return type.
5) Recommended coding rules for best performance
- Use globals to represent the parts of the QEMU CPU state which are
often modified, e.g. the integer registers and the condition
codes. TCG will be able to use host registers to store them.
- Avoid globals stored in fixed registers. They must be used only to
store the pointer to the CPU state and possibly to store a pointer
to a register window.
- Use temporaries. Use local temporaries only when really needed,
e.g. when you need to use a value after a jump. Local temporaries
introduce a performance hit in the current TCG implementation: their
content is saved to memory at end of each basic block.
- Free temporaries and local temporaries when they are no longer used
(tcg_temp_free). Since tcg_const_x() also creates a temporary, you
should free it after it is used. Freeing temporaries does not yield
a better generated code, but it reduces the memory usage of TCG and
the speed of the translation.
- Don't hesitate to use helpers for complicated or seldom used guest
instructions. There is little performance advantage in using TCG to
implement guest instructions taking more than about twenty TCG
instructions. Note that this rule of thumb is more applicable to
helpers doing complex logic or arithmetic, where the C compiler has
scope to do a good job of optimisation; it is less relevant where
the instruction is mostly doing loads and stores, and in those cases
inline TCG may still be faster for longer sequences.
- The hard limit on the number of TCG instructions you can generate
per guest instruction is set by MAX_OP_PER_INSTR in exec-all.h --
you cannot exceed this without risking a buffer overrun.
- Use the 'discard' instruction if you know that TCG won't be able to
prove that a given global is "dead" at a given program point. The
x86 guest uses it to improve the condition codes optimisation.