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Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2021 10:03:22 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
To: Alexander Monakov <>
	√Črico Nogueira <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2] add qsort_r.

On Tue, Mar 09, 2021 at 05:13:39PM +0300, Alexander Monakov wrote:
> > On Tue, Mar 09, 2021 at 12:11:37PM +0300, Alexander Monakov wrote:
> > > On Tue, 9 Mar 2021, √Črico Nogueira wrote:
> > > 
> > > > since most discussion around the addition of this function has centered
> > > > around the possible code duplication it requires or that qsort would
> > > > become much slower if implemented as a wrapper around qsort_r
> > > 
> > > How much is "much slower", did anyone provide figures to support this claim?
> > > The extra cost that a wrapper brings is either one indirect jump instruction,
> > > or one trivially-predictable conditional branch per one comparator invocation.
> > 
> > Quite a bit I'd expect. Each call to cmp would involve an extra level
> > of call wrapper. With full IPA/inlining it could be optimized out, but
> > only by making a non-_r copy of all the qsort code in the process at
> > optimize time.
> > 
> > > Constant factor in musl qsort is quite high, I'd be surprised if the extra
> > > overhead from one additional branch is even possible to measure.
> > 
> > I don't think it's just a branch. It's a call layer. qsort_r internals
> > with cmp=wrapper_cmp, ctx=real_cmp -> wrapper_cmp(x, y, real_cmp) ->
> > real_cmp(x, y). But I'm not opposed to looking at some numbers if you
> > think it might not matter. Maybe because it's a tail call it does
> > collapse to essentially just a branch in terms of cost..
> First of all it's not necessarily a "call layer".
> You could change cmp call site such that NULL comparator implies that
> non-_r version was called and the original comparator address is in ctx:
> static inline int call_cmp(void *v1, void *v2, void *ctx, cmpfun cmp)
> {
> 	if (cmp)
> 		return cmp(v1, v2, ctx);
> 	return ((cmpfun)ctx)(v1, v2);
> }
> This is just a conditional branch at call site after trivial inlining.

This works, but it's not what I would call writing qsort as a wrapper
around qsort_r, because it depends on qsort_r having this additional
libc-internal contract to treat null cmp specially, and it might be
undesirable because it then does something rather awful if the
application calls qsort_r with a null cmp pointer (rather than just
crashing with PC=0).

> Second, if you make a "conventional" wrapper, then on popular architectures
> it is a single instruction (powerpc64 ABI demonstrates its insanity here):
> static int wrapper_cmp(void *v1, void *v2, void *ctx)
> {
> 	return ((cmpfun)ctx)(v1, v2);
> }
> Some examples:
> amd64:	jmp %rdx
> i386:	jmp *12(%esp)
> arm:	bx r2
> aarch64:br x2
> How is this not obvious?

Now that you mention it it's obvious that the compiler should be able
to do this. gcc -Os alone does not, which looks like yet another
reason to nuke -Os, but I think in musl it would do the right thing
already. It turns out the problem is that gcc emits spurious frame
pointer setup and teardown without -fomit-frame-pointer.

For some reason though it's gigantic on powerpc64. It fails to do a
tail call at all...


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