[Mesa-dev] [PATCH] Fix strict-aliasing violations in GLSL shader list implementation

Dave Airlie airlied at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 19:01:35 PDT 2015

On 24 June 2015 at 11:44, Ian Romanick <idr at freedesktop.org> wrote:
> On 06/24/2015 03:59 PM, Davin McCall wrote:
>> Hi Ian,
>> On 23/06/15 23:26, Ian Romanick wrote:
>>> On 06/23/2015 02:36 PM, Thomas Helland wrote:
>>>> 2015-06-24 23:05 GMT+02:00 Davin McCall <davmac at davmac.org>:
>>>>> Hi - I'm new here.
>>>>> I've recently started poking the Mesa codebase for little reason other than
>>>>> personal interest. In the "help wanted" section of the website it mentions
>>>>> aliasing violations as a target for newcomers to fix, so with that in mind
>>>>> I've attached a patch (against git head) which resolves a few of them, by
>>>>> targeting the linked list implementation (list.h) used in the GLSL
>>>>> compiler/optimizers. This change slightly increases the storage requirements
>>>>> for a list (adds one word) but resolves the blatant aliasing violation that
>>>>> was caused by the trick used to conserve that word in the first place.
>>>>> (I toyed with another approach - using a single sentinel node for both the
>>>>> head and tail of a list - but this was much more invasive, and meant that
>>>>> you could no longer check whether a particular node was a sentinel node
>>>>> unless you had a reference to the list, so I gave up and went with this
>>>>> simpler approach).
>>>>> The most essential change is in the 'exec_list' structure. Three fields
>>>>> 'head', 'tail' and 'tail_pred' are removed, and two separate sentinel nodes
>>>>> are inserted in their place. The old 'head' is replaced by
>>>>> 'head_sentinel.next', 'tail_pred' by 'tail_sentinel.prev', and tail (always
>>>>> NULL) by 'head_sentinel.prev' and 'tail_sentinel.next' (both always NULL).
>>> NAK.  The datastructure is correct as-is.  It has been in common use
>>> since at least 1985.  See the references in the header file.
>> I understand the data structure and how it is supposed to work; the
>> issue is that the trick it employs cannot be implemented in C without
>> breaking the strict aliasing rules (or at least, the current
>> implementation in Mesa breaks the strict aliasing rules). The current
>> code works correctly only with the -fno-strict-aliasing compiler option.
>> The issue is that a pair of 'exec_node *' do not constitute an exec_node
>> in the eyes of the language spec, even though exec_node is declared as
>> holding two such pointers. Consider (from src/glsl/list.h):
>>     static inline void
>>     exec_list_make_empty(struct exec_list *list)
>>     {
>>        list->head = (struct exec_node *) & list->tail;
>>        list->tail = NULL;
>>        list->tail_pred = (struct exec_node *) & list->head;
>>     }
>> 'list->head' is of type 'struct exec_node *', and so should point at a
>> 'struct  exec_node'. In the code above it is instead co-erced to point
>> at a 'struct exec_node *' (list->tail). That in itself doesn't break the
>> alias rules, but then:
>>     static inline bool
>>     exec_node_is_tail_sentinel(const struct exec_node *n)
>>     {
>>        return n->next == NULL;
>>     }
>> In 'exec_node_is_tail_sentinel', the sentinel is not actually an
>> exec_node - it is &list->tail. So, if the parameter n does refer to the
>> sentinel, then it does not point to an actual exec_node structure.
>> However, it is de-referenced (by 'n->next') which breaks the strict
>> aliasing rules. This means that the method above can only ever return
>> false, unless it violates the aliasing rules.
>> (The above method could be fixed by casting n to an 'struct exec_node
>> **' and then comparing '**n' against NULL. However, there are other
>> similar examples throughout the code that I do not think would be so
>> trivial).
>> I can quote the relevant parts of the standard if necessary, but your
>> tone somewhat implies that you wouldn't even consider this patch?
> Please quote the spec.  I have a hard time believing that the compiler
> magically decides that an exec_node* is not really an exec_node* and
> just does whatever it wants (which sounds like what you're describing).
>  That sounds pretty rubbish... and I'm surprised that anything works in
> such an environment.
> Mesa has also had -fno-strict-aliasing for as long as I can remember,
> and this structure has only been used here for a few years.  The whole
> thing just doesn't smell right.

Oh we've always had aliasing problems this is just one, you can't
expect one person to fix them all at once.

But making headway is a good thing.

You can't have
struct exec_list *p;
struct exec_node *p2 = (struct exec_list *)p

And do things with p2 and hope that p will get them, because
the compiler wants to store things its doing to p in registers,
and when you go and do something in p2 it can't work out it's the
same thing, so it has to spill/reload.


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