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The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Imagination Technologies's MIPS group, in the past of other companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Address Generation Writeback

http://semipublic.comp-arch.net/wiki/Address_Generation_Writeback

= Hardware Motivation for Address Register Modifying Addressing Modes =

Apart from the software datastructure motivation,
there is a hardware motivation for addressing modes such as pre-increment or decrement.

In more generality - addressing modes that calculate an address, and then save the results of that calculation
in a register - typically one of the registers involved in the addressing mode.

Consider [[Mitch Alsup's Favorite Addressing Mode]],
the x86's [[Base+Scaled-Index+Offset]].

A succession of such instructions might look like:

;an [[RMW]]
r1 := load( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r1 := ... some calculation involving r1 ...
store( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] := r1 )

or

; nearby loads
r1 := load( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r2 := load( M[ rB+rO*4+offset2 ] )
r3 := load( M[ rB+rO*4+offset3 ] )

Notice the possibility of [[CSE (Common Subexpression Elimination)]]:

For the [[RMW]] case, this is straightforward:

rAtmp := [[lea]]( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r1 := load( rAtmp ] )
r1 := ... some calculation involving r1 ...
store( M[ rAtmp ] := r1 )

Is this a win? It depends:
* in terms of performance, on a classic RISC, probably note: the extra instruction adds latency, probably costs a cycle.
* in terms of power, possibly

For the nearby load case, we could do:

rAtmp := lea( M[ rB+rO*4 ] )
r1 := load( M[ rAtmp+offset1 ] )
r2 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+offset2 ] )
r3 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+offset3 ] )

or

rAtmp := lea( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r1 := load( M[ rAtmp ] )
r2 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+(offset2-offset1) ] )
r3 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+(offset3-offset1) ] )

Is this a win? Again, it depends:
* probably not in performance
* possibly in terms of power.

    As an aside, let me note that if the base address rB+rO*4 is aligned, then the subsequent addresses could use [[OR indexing]] rather than [[ADD indexing]]. Which may further save power. At the cost of yet another piece of crap in the instruction set.

To avoid conundrums like this - is it better to [[CSE]] the addressing mode or not?
- processors like the [[AMD 29K]]
abandoned addressing modes except for [[absolute addressing mode]] and [[register indirect addressing mode]]
- so to form any nomn-trivial address you had to save the results to a register, and thereby were
encouraged to CSE it whenever possible.

Generalized pre-increment/decrement is a less RISCy approach to this.
Instead of encouraging CSE via separate instructions,
it encourages CSE by making it "free" to save the result ofthe addressing mode calculation.

:Let's call this [[Address Generation Saving]], or, if it modifies a register used in the addressing mode, [[Address Register Modification]]:

In our examples:

;RMW
rAtmp := [[lea]]( M[ rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r1 := load( rAtmp := rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r1 := ... some calculation involving r1 ...
store( M[ rAtmp ] := r1 )

; nearby load
r1 := load( M[ rAtnp :=rB+rO*4+offset1 ] )
r2 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+(offset2-offset1) ] )
r3 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+(offset3-offset1) ] )

Note that the nearby case that changes the offsets is simpler than the nearby case that saves only part ofthe address calculation:

;Using C's comma expression:
r1 := load( M[ (rAtmp := rB+rO*4, rAtmp+offset1) ] )
r2 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+offset2 ] )
r3 := load( M[ rAtmp*4+offset3 ] )

:: Again, [[OR indexing]] may benefit, for addressing mode [[(Base+Scaled-Index)}Offset]]

What is the probem with this?
* Writeback ports

Such an [[Address Generation Saving]] requires an extra writeback port, in addition to the result of an instruction like load.

For this reason, some instruction sets have proposed to NOT have [[address generation writeback]] for instructions that write other results, such as load,
but only to have [[address generation writeback]] for instructions that do not have a normal writeback, such as a store.

: Glew opinion: workable, minor benefit, but ugly.

Except that pre-increment/decre more general form:

Post-increment and decrement goes further, generalized in this way:
then the address calculation looks like

{ old := address_reg; address_reg := new_address; return old }

Not only does this require a writeback port for the updated address register,
but it also requires two paths from the AGU or RF to where the address is used
- one for the address, the other for the updated address_reg.

OVERALL OBSERVATION: addressing modes begin the slippery slope to VLIW.

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