Testing LLVM's profile guided optimization with Rust
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Testing LLVM's profile guided optimization with Rust

There's a blogpost describing why I tested this: https://unhandledexpression.com/2016/04/14/using-llvm-pgo-in-rust/

see the issue on PGO in Rust: https://github.com/rust-lang/rfcs/issues/1220

The code tested is from https://benchmarksgame.alioth.debian.org/u64q/program.php?test=nbody&lang=rust&id=2


  • LLVM 3.8
  • The rustc version used here: rustc 1.7.0-dev (80e21d195 2016-01-17)
  • on OS X, LLVM installed from Homebrew misses the file /usr/local/Cellar/llvm38/3.8.0/lib/llvm-3.8/bin/../lib/clang/3.8.0/lib/darwin/libclang_rt.profile_osx.a. In theory, doing brew install homebrew/versions/llvm38 --with-asan will build it, but it failed for me. As an alternative, you can download the compiler-rt source from compiler-rt.llvm.org and build it (the file you need will be in lib/darwin once compiled).

The basic idea is to generate the LLVM bitcode file from Rust, then apply the profiling tools there, then compile manually.

First, we create the target/debug/pgo.bc file.

cargo rustc --release -- --emit llvm-bc

Then we generate the pgo.bc file in the current directory, with instrumentation.

opt-3.8 -O2 -pgo-instr-gen -instrprof target/release/pgo.bc -o pgo.bc

Then we compile it using llc and clang. I linked to the libstd corresponding to my version.

llc-3.8 -O2 -filetype=obj pgo.bc
clang-3.8 -O2 -flto -fprofile-instr-generate pgo.o -L/usr/local/lib/rustlib/x86_64-apple-darwin/lib -lstd-ca1c970e -o pgo

After running the pgo executable, the default.profraw file is created:

$ ./pgo 10000000

The .profraw file must be transformed to the .profdata format.

$ llvm-profdata-3.8 merge -output=pgo.profdata default.profraw

We can now use that file in the compilation steps:

opt-3.8 -O2 -pgo-instr-use -pgo-test-profile-file=pgo.profdata target/release/pgo.bc -o pgo-opt.bc
llc-3.8 -O2 -filetype=obj pgo-opt.bc
clang-3.8 -O2 -flto -fprofile-instr-use=pgo.profdata pgo-opt.o -L/usr/local/lib/rustlib/x86_64-apple-darwin/lib -lstd-ca1c970e -o pgo-opt

Comparing the two versions, and one build directly with rustc:

$ rustc -O src/main.rs
$ time ./main 1000000000

real    2m19.395s
user    2m18.954s
sys     0m0.240s

$ time ./target/release/pgo 1000000000

real    1m22.528s
user    1m22.214s
sys     0m0.173s

$ time ./pgo-opt 1000000000

real    1m9.810s
user    1m9.687s
sys     0m0.070s

Generating assembly for comparison:

llc-3.8 -O2 -filetype=asm target/release/pgo.bc
llc-3.8 -O2 -filetype=asm pgo-opt.bc

Will generate target/release/pgo.s and pgo-opt.s. You can find those files in the assembly/ directory.

This is just a small (hackish) test, but there may be big benefits in testing PGO for Rust code!