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ability to set alignment on struct fields #1512

andrewrk opened this Issue Sep 13, 2018 · 2 comments


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andrewrk commented Sep 13, 2018

Just like global variables and local variables support alignment, struct fields should support alignment.

The alignment of a struct should be the alignment of its most aligned member. As Zig iterates over the fields of a struct, it knows the current alignment at that position. When a field requires more alignment, padding bytes are inserted until the desired alignment is achieved. Zig currently does this incorrectly - See #1248

Related is reordering fields for better performance and memory usage (see #168)

You should also be able to set the alignment of fields in packed structs. This does 2 things:

  • acts as assertions - compiler will give an error if the alignment is impossible given that the struct is packed
  • determines the overall alignment of the packed struct - it will be the alignment of the most aligned field. if no field is specified to be aligned, the alignment of the packed struct will be 1.

A packed struct in an array should give a compile error if its size is not byte-aligned, or if its size is not aligned to its own alignment.


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ghost commented Sep 18, 2018

Here we can see a use case for specifying the alignment of struct fields: (search for 'alignas').

They specify the alignment to be the minimum offset between two objects to avoid false sharing.


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andrewrk commented Dec 20, 2018

Note this workaround that is now in master branch, and also described in #1845 (comment):


Lines 2698 to 2707 in 459045a

// TODO If we have no type_entry for the field, we've already failed to
// compile the program correctly. This stage1 compiler needs a deeper
// reworking to make this correct, or we can ignore the problem
// and make sure it is fixed in stage2. This workaround is for when
// there is a false positive of a dependency loop, of alignment depending
// on itself. When this false positive happens we assume a pointer-aligned
// field, which is usually fine but could be incorrectly over-aligned or
// even under-aligned. See
if (field->type_entry == nullptr) {
this_field_align = LLVMABIAlignmentOfType(g->target_data_ref, LLVMPointerType(LLVMInt8Type(), 0));

I think we have to solve the underlying issue before this issue can be resolved.

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