GHC on ARM update

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About a year ago, I started work on adding support for the ARM architecture to GHC’s runtime linker. While ARM has been a half-supported architecture for quite some time with LLVM’s code generator, the lack of a runtime linker meant that GHCi and, perhaps more importantly, Template Haskell were not available.

After many hours of pouring over the ELF for ARM, ARM Architectural Reference Manual (ARM ARM), and ARM runtime ABI specifications, and countless more hours single-stepping through ARM assembler I had a patch which could get me through enough linking to arrive at the familiar GHCi prompt. The bulk of this work was implementing the various relocation types defined by the ELF for ARM specification. While the specification defines well over a hundred types of relocations, thankfully only a dozen or so of these seem to show up in object code in the wild.

As with most low-level programming, the work of implementing these is extremely unforegiving: a subtle misinterpretation of the specification (which itself isn’t always clear) is only apparent well after the linking has been done, manifested as a invalid instruction, segmentation fault, or some other processor exception. Debugging these crashes is painstaking at best: the stack of a GHC program is often quite unhelpful, if you are lucky the instruction pointed to by the link register ($lr) is the culpable relocation but this often isn’t the case. Consequently, most of the refinement of the relocation implementation occurred by brute force staring.

Nevertheless, by February I had finished enough of the relocations to propose the patch set for merge (although the number of failing testsuite cases make it clear that more work remained to be done). After some further testing (thanks to Karel Gardas), the set was merged for GHC 7.4.2.

After the release, my time budget for GHC had been spent. This, combined with a hardware failure on my PandaBoard meant that the next nine months went by with little progress on the GHC ARM front. This break I started dusting off my ARM environment and found that several things had broken since my last attempts (documented here).

The first issue manifested itself at the end of the stage 2 compiler build. The linker seemed to complain of VFP calling convention mismatch between the objects produced by the C compiler and GHC,

"/usr/bin/ld" --hash-size=31     --reduce-memory-overheads -r -o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/HSghc-prim-  libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Classes.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/CString.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Debug.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Generics.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Magic.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/PrimopWrappers.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/IntWord64.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Tuple.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/GHC/Types.o   libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/debug.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/longlong.o libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/popcnt.o   
/usr/bin/ld: error: libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/debug.o uses VFP register arguments, libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/HSghc-prim- does not
/usr/bin/ld: failed to merge target specific data of file libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/debug.o
/usr/bin/ld: error: libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/longlong.o uses VFP register arguments, libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/HSghc-prim- does not
/usr/bin/ld: failed to merge target specific data of file libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/longlong.o
/usr/bin/ld: error: libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/popcnt.o uses VFP register arguments, libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/HSghc-prim- does not
/usr/bin/ld: failed to merge target specific data of file libraries/ghc-prim/dist-install/build/cbits/popcnt.o

Poking around a bit in the build process, it appeared that LLVM was defaulting to the soft-float ABI. Forcing LLVM to use hard-float in seemed to fix the issue,

SRC_HC_OPTS        = -H64m -Rghc-timing -optc-mfloat-abi=hard -optc-mcpu=cortex-a9 -optlc-mcpu=cortex-a9

This allowed the build to proceed to completion, resulting in what appeared to be a reasonably functional compiler: ghci appeared to work and simple test programs could be built. Sadly, testsuite compliance looks even worse than I recalled was the case in 7.4.

Attempting to compile vector results in a pretty nasty looking crash,

Perhaps LLVM is to blame. Upgrading LLVM from 3.1 to HEAD (git mirror revision ab7032090871abf6aeed86b2c4b836e97771d234). LLVM testsuite passes with no failures.