An unusual use of case/switch

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Xavier Roche, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. Xavier Roche

    Ian Collins Guest

    But not loop unrolling.
    Ian Collins, Sep 23, 2013
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  2. Xavier Roche

    Siri Cruise Guest

    The most likely way to optimise the above array move is
    memcpy(to, from, count*sizeof(*to))
    memmove(to, from, count*sizeof(*to))
    and let the compiler choose the best implementation.

    The more usual loop would be something like
    for (k=0; k<n; k++) a[k] = f(b[k], c[k]);

    Depending on the underlying hardware that might be optimised to
    r0 := b[0]; r2 := b[1];
    r3 := b[2]; r4 := b[3];
    r1 := c[0]; r3 := c[1];
    r5 := c[2]; r7 := c[3];
    while (k+:=4)<=n
    r8 := f(r0,r1); r9 := f(r2,r3);
    r10 := f(r4,r5); r11 := f(r6,r7);
    r0 := b[k+0]; r2 := b[k+1];
    r3 := b[k+2]; r4 := b[k+3];
    r1 := c[k+0]; r3 := c[k+1];
    r5 := c[k+2]; r7 := c[k+3];
    a[k-4] := r8; a[k-3] := r9;
    a[k-2] := r10; a[k-1] := r11;
    if k-3<n, a[k-4] := f(r0, r1);
    if k-2<n, a[k-3] := f(r2, r3);
    if k-1<n, a[k-2] := f(r4, 5);
    k := n;
    Because loads and stores can be very expensive but overlap with other
    operations, and it's faster to use the entire cache line at once. These kinds of
    considerations are very machine specific and not obvious to people not familar
    with assembly level code.
    Siri Cruise, Sep 23, 2013
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  3. The original point of the device was to express the effect of loop
    unrolling directly in C, so it only made sense in an environment where
    the compiler won't unroll the original, much simpler, loop.

    I don't think you'd ever want a compiler to unroll the loop in Duff's
    device. I can't see how the result could be better than the compiler's
    unrolling of the original. If, for some reason, it isn't, you'd
    probably get better results by adding more cases.
    Ben Bacarisse, Sep 23, 2013
  4. If written in modern C, yes, it should be volatile. But the volatile
    keyword didn't exist (as far as I know) when Duff invented his
    device in 1983.
    Keith Thompson, Sep 23, 2013
  5. Xavier Roche

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    If I understand the code (I had no idea you could embed a do-while
    around the cases of a switch statement!), the unrolled version ends up
    doing eight assignments for each iteration of the do-while, while the
    unoptimized only does one. The result is that the unoptimized has to
    evaluate eight times as many conditionals.
    Joe Pfeiffer, Sep 23, 2013
  6. (snip, I wrote)
    Oh, yes. But also compilers didn't do as much of the optimizations
    that would depend on that, especially for embedded systems.

    For embedded systems with memory-mapped I/O, it is common to assign
    an address (int) to a pointer and use it as an I/O port. Compilers
    for those systems should know not to optimize them away.

    -- glen
    glen herrmannsfeldt, Sep 23, 2013
  7. To be pedantic, I presume you mean assigning an integer value
    *converted* to some pointer type to a pointer object, such as:

    unsigned char *ptr = (unsigned char*)0xdeadbeef;

    The phrase "an address (int)" implies that addresses are integers,
    and that discussion has already been had.
    Keith Thompson, Sep 23, 2013
  8. (snip, someone wrote)
    I suppose, but in the case of embedded systems with memory-mapped
    I/O, it is pretty close to true that addresses are int.

    So far, I have not seen any machines with (float) or (double)
    addresses. Maybe some with (short), though.

    In most cases, embedded programmers are using C as an approximation
    to an assembler. They know, almost exactly, the instructions that
    will be compiled. Many processors have few enough registers that
    you know exactly which register a value will be in.

    Some allow one to switch, line by line, between C code and assembler
    instructions. Any program that assigns I/O port addresses to pointer
    variables is pretty much not portable.

    -- glen
    glen herrmannsfeldt, Sep 23, 2013
  9. In C terms, addresses are pointer values, not integers.

    In lower-level terms (assembly or machine language), there is no
    such thing as "int", unless the system happens to use that term
    for something; "int" is a C-specific type name.

    A machine address may very well have the same representation as a C
    "int" (though not necessarily; for example, on many 64-bit systems
    addresses are 64 bits, but int is only 32).

    And of course an assembly language might permit things that look very
    much like C integer constants to be used as addresses. But in C, if you

    volatile char *ptr = 0xdeadbeef;

    you're going to get a diagnostic from the compiler -- unless the
    compiler is running in some non-conforming mode.
    It depends. I work on embedded systems myself, but there's a full OS.
    I understand it's different for smaller systems.
    All true, but not particularly relevant to my point.
    Keith Thompson, Sep 23, 2013
  10. (snip)
    (snip, then I wrote)
    Last embedded project I did was on a Rabbit 3000, which is pretty
    much a descendant of the Z80, but with enough extra register that
    you can do bank-select access to a 24 bit address space.
    I don't remember if the C compiler for Rabbit allows it, but I
    wouldn't be surprised. Make it easier for the programmers!
    -- glen
    glen herrmannsfeldt, Sep 23, 2013
  11. If we're talking about C (meaning a language reasonably close to
    the language defined by the ISO C standard), no, addresses are
    not integers. They can *behave* like integers in many ways, but an
    "address" is a value of pointer type. (Unless you're using the word
    "address" in a way other than the way the C standard uses the word.)

    You can add, multiply, divide two integers and get a meaningful
    result. You can't do that with two addresses.

    You can increment an integer object, and the result, even if you
    look at the bits, will be one greater than the original value.
    If you increment an address, it advances by the size of whatever
    it points to.

    It can be useful, especially in embedded systems I suppose,
    to think of an address as something very similar to an unsigned
    integer of the same size, but as far as C is concerned, integers
    and addresses/pointers are quite distinct, sharing in common
    their representation as a sequence of bits and a limited subset of
    arithmetic operations (with different semantics).

    Keith Thompson, Sep 24, 2013
  12. Xavier Roche

    Tim Rentsch Guest

    I'll grant you that, but on the other hand Duff's device has been
    around 30 years, so it too may be given idiomatic recognition in
    some compilers.
    Any simple test case will do, as for example (please excuse
    typing mistakes):

    simple_loop( char *p, char *q, int n ){
    while( n-- > 0 ) *p = *q++;

    duff_loop( char *p, char *q, int n ){
    int k = n/8;
    switch( n%8 ) do {
    *p = *q++; case 7:
    *p = *q++; case 6:
    *p = *q++; case 5:
    *p = *q++; case 4:
    *p = *q++; case 3:
    *p = *q++; case 2:
    *p = *q++; case 1:
    *p = *q++; case 0: ;
    } while( k-- > 0 );

    /* and separately compiled */

    extern void simple_loop(), duff_loop();
    char a[1234567], b[1234567];

    main( int argc, char *argv[] ){
    void (*f)() = argc < 2 ? simple_loop : duff_loop;
    int loop_count = 10000; /* or suitable other */
    while( loop_count-- > 0 ) f( a, b, (int) sizeof b );
    return 0;

    and time two invocations (with appropriate number of arguments to
    get the two different behaviors).
    Tim Rentsch, Sep 25, 2013
  13. Xavier Roche

    Ian Collins Guest

    I added an extra zero to the loop count.

    The difference was dramatic:
    real 0m34.600s
    Ian Collins, Sep 25, 2013
  14. Xavier Roche

    Phil Carmody Guest

    we're not.

    did you miss the "in ..." clauses nearby the word "address" above?
    See above. Addresses are addresses. They are defined by the hardware,
    your silly C language pretends to model them closeley, and often
    suceeds. As bit-strings (not necessarily atomic), they are integers.

    I'm a bit surprised that you have an embedded background given your
    above "everything revolves around C" attitude.
    let's comapare an contrast:

    char foo[10]={/*whatever*/};
    int index = 7;
    index *= index; // KT approved, it's an int!
    bar(foo[index]); // no regrets


    const u32 FIFO1_LWM_INT = 0xC0084001; // address of hw register
    const u32 FIFO1_HWM_INT = 0xC0084002; // address of hw register
    u32 whocareswhat= FIFO1_LWM_INT*FIFO1_HWM_INT;

    which is the more bogus code?

    I know you'ved approved the former,, and think that the latter is inherently
    evil, but I would ask you to reconsider.

    Phil Carmody, Sep 26, 2013
  15. Xavier Roche

    Eric Sosman Guest

    Did you miss the "Newsgroups" header above?
    As bit-strings, complex long doubles are integers.
    Eric Sosman, Sep 26, 2013
  16. Xavier Roche

    Phil Carmody Guest

    Pffft. See Tatham's earlier coroutines article - a much more
    thorough analysis and solution. (Which the above seems to be
    mostly a reinvention of, despite the "invented by" claim.)

    Phil Carmody, Sep 26, 2013
  17. Xavier Roche

    James Kuyper Guest

    All uses of "int" or "unsigned int" in the above text refer to terms
    from the C language, with meanings governed by the relevant clauses of
    the C standard, and the same is also true of David's use of the phrase
    "standard C". Those "in ..." clauses don't do anything to change those
    Talking about addresses while comparing them to C data types such as
    "int" is pretty much pointless unless you're using the C standard's
    meaning for the term "address". It's fairly clear that David is NOT
    using that meaning.
    David and Glen's comments about C data types such as "int" and "unsigned
    int" are what makes Keith's argument "revolve around C". If they had
    referred to "integer" rather than "int", Keith's response, if any, would
    not have had any reason to even refer to the C standard. On the other
    hand, if they had phrased their comments that way, their comments
    wouldn't have been relevant to the conclusions they wanted to reach.
    James Kuyper, Sep 26, 2013
  18. Newsgroups: comp.lang.c
    What does the word "int" mean if it doesn't refer to the C type of
    that name?
    *My* "silly C language"? It's no more mine that it is yours; we're both
    posting to a newsgroup that discusses it.

    Bit-strings can represent things other than integers: graphical images,
    floating-point numbers, addresses, and so forth.
    When have I ever said that everything revolves around C? In this
    newsgroup, I generally discuss C. In other contexts, I discuss other
    A strawman argument unworthy of response.
    Keith Thompson, Sep 27, 2013
  19. Xavier Roche

    Phil Carmody Guest

    Headers aren't C. Like you I shall refuse to address anything
    written that isn't about C, so shall ignore your reference to

    If you are unable to distinguish discussion about the thing being
    modelled by C, and how C models that thing, then this discussion
    can go nowhere useful.

    Phil Carmody, Sep 27, 2013
  20. Xavier Roche

    Phil Carmody Guest

    Yes, I should have spotted that, and not responded.

    Phil Carmody, Sep 27, 2013
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