Benefit of dynamic hammock predication

By: Linus Torvalds (torvalds.delete@this.linux-foundation.org), July 6, 2015 3:59 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
Paul A. Clayton (paaronclayton.delete@this.gmail.com) on July 6, 2015 3:02 pm wrote:
>
> The compiler should chose a select instruction if the branch is unpredictable.

That's the traditional rule, yes.

I'm wondering if it will go away, though. I personally think it should.

This is exactly the kind of thing that hardware is better at predicting dynamically than having compiler rules for. It's often really hard for a compiler to know whether something predicts well or not, because it can depend entirely on the load, and not so much on the code itself.

And you could easily envision extending the branch prediction hardware to turn a strongly predicted conditional move into a true move in the front-end, and breaking the data dependency on the not-taken side (the same way predicted conditional branches break the dependencies). And for weakly predicted (or unpredicted) conditional moves, keep it as a conditional move.

Of course, it can be pretty subtle. This is another area where both ARM and PowerPC screwed up their memory ordering model. Their ordering rules are actually different for conditional moves and for conditional branches. For both ARM and Power, a data dependency between two memory read operations implies an ordering (so you don't need to put a read barrier between loading a pointer and loading something off the pointer), but a control dependency does not (so you do need to put a memory barrier between loading a value and conditionally based on that value loading something else).

So dynamically turning a conditional move into a predicated regular move can actually affect the memory ordering model and the hardware would have to be pretty careful about it.

x86 doesn't have those insane memory ordering semantics. Loads are done in order (as far as software could tell - they do get re-ordered, but the semantics are guaranteed to be the same as if they were done in order), so it doesn't matter if the two accessed had a data or control dependency between them.

Linus
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          Benefit of dynamic hammock predicationsomeotherdude2015/07/06 05:12 PM
            Benefit of dynamic hammock predicationMichael S2015/07/07 01:19 AM
          Benefit of dynamic hammock predicationPatrick Chase2015/07/06 10:20 PM
            SIMD predication is also helpful, of course (NT)Paul A. Clayton2015/07/07 07:45 AM
        Power8 branch conversionGabriele Svelto2015/07/07 02:50 AM
          isel works for storesPaul A. Clayton2015/07/07 07:43 AM
            isel works for storesPatrick Chase2015/07/07 11:08 AM
            isel DOES NOT work for storessomeotherdude2015/07/07 04:01 PM
              isel DOES NOT work for storesWilco2015/07/07 04:40 PM
              Yes it doesPatrick Chase2015/07/07 11:14 PM
                Yes it doesvvid2015/07/08 09:51 AM
            You don't need isel eitherGabriele Svelto2015/07/08 02:01 AM
              You don't need isel eitherPaul A. Clayton2015/07/08 04:46 AM
                You don't need isel eitherGabriele Svelto2015/07/08 05:22 AM
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