Restrict Qualification - 2024.1 English

AI Engine-ML Kernel and Graph Programming Guide (UG1603)

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2024.1 English

The C standard provides a specific pointer qualifier, __restrict, intended to allow more aggressive compiler optimization by explicitly stating data independence between whatever the pointer references and all other variables. For example :

int a; // global variable
void foo(int* __restrict p, int* q)
  for (...) { ... *p += a + *q; ...}

Now the analysis of foo can proceed with the knowledge that *p does not denote the same object as *q and a. So, a and *q can now be loaded once, before the loop.

Currently, the compiler front end does not disambiguate between different accesses to the same array. So, when updating one element of an array, it assumes that the complete array has changed value. The __restrict qualifier can be used to override this conservative assumption. This is useful when you want to obtain multiple independent pointers to the same array.

void foo(int A[])
  int* __restrict rA = A; // force independent access
  for (int i = ...)
  rA[i] = ... A[i];

In this example, the __restrict qualifier allows software pipelining of the loop; the next array element can already be loaded, while the previous one must still be stored. To maximize the impact of the __restrict qualifier, the compiler front end, by default, inserts a chess_copy operation in the initializer, as if was written:

int* __restrict rA = chess_copy(A);

This is needed to keep both pointers distinct within the optimizer (for example, no common subexpression elimination). This behavior can be disabled for the AI Engine compiler by means of the option -mllvm -chess-implicit-chess_copy=false. So, the chess_copy creates two pointers, while __restrict informs the compiler not to consider any mutual dependencies between the stores/loads through these pointers. For __restrict pointers having a local scope, the mutual independence assumption only holds during the lifetime of the __restrict pointer.

Pointers derived from a __restrict pointer (such as rA+1 or through pointer intrinsics) keep the restriction, that is, they are considered to point to the same restricted memory region.

Note: Details of chess_copy is available from the ASIP Programmer Chess Compiler User Manual, which can be found in the AI Engine Lounge.