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16.8.1 Simple Constraints

The simplest kind of constraint is a string full of letters, each of which describes one kind of operand that is permitted. Here are the letters that are allowed:

Whitespace characters are ignored and can be inserted at any position except the first. This enables each alternative for different operands to be visually aligned in the machine description even if they have different number of constraints and modifiers.

A memory operand is allowed, with any kind of address that the machine supports in general. Note that the letter used for the general memory constraint can be re-defined by a back end using the TARGET_MEM_CONSTRAINT macro.

A memory operand is allowed, but only if the address is offsettable. This means that adding a small integer (actually, the width in bytes of the operand, as determined by its machine mode) may be added to the address and the result is also a valid memory address.

For example, an address which is constant is offsettable; so is an address that is the sum of a register and a constant (as long as a slightly larger constant is also within the range of address-offsets supported by the machine); but an autoincrement or autodecrement address is not offsettable. More complicated indirect/indexed addresses may or may not be offsettable depending on the other addressing modes that the machine supports.

Note that in an output operand which can be matched by another operand, the constraint letter `o' is valid only when accompanied by both `<' (if the target machine has predecrement addressing) and `>' (if the target machine has preincrement addressing).

A memory operand that is not offsettable. In other words, anything that would fit the `m' constraint but not the `o' constraint.

A memory operand with autodecrement addressing (either predecrement or postdecrement) is allowed.

A memory operand with autoincrement addressing (either preincrement or postincrement) is allowed.

A register operand is allowed provided that it is in a general register.

An immediate integer operand (one with constant value) is allowed. This includes symbolic constants whose values will be known only at assembly time or later.

An immediate integer operand with a known numeric value is allowed. Many systems cannot support assembly-time constants for operands less than a word wide. Constraints for these operands should use `n' rather than `i'.

`I', `J', `K', ... `P'
Other letters in the range `I' through `P' may be defined in a machine-dependent fashion to permit immediate integer operands with explicit integer values in specified ranges. For example, on the 68000, `I' is defined to stand for the range of values 1 to 8. This is the range permitted as a shift count in the shift instructions.

An immediate floating operand (expression code const_double) is allowed, but only if the target floating point format is the same as that of the host machine (on which the compiler is running).

An immediate floating operand (expression code const_double or const_vector) is allowed.

`G', `H'
`G' and `H' may be defined in a machine-dependent fashion to permit immediate floating operands in particular ranges of values.

An immediate integer operand whose value is not an explicit integer is allowed.

This might appear strange; if an insn allows a constant operand with a value not known at compile time, it certainly must allow any known value. So why use `s' instead of `i'? Sometimes it allows better code to be generated.

For example, on the 68000 in a fullword instruction it is possible to use an immediate operand; but if the immediate value is between −128 and 127, better code results from loading the value into a register and using the register. This is because the load into the register can be done with a `moveq' instruction. We arrange for this to happen by defining the letter `K' to mean “any integer outside the range −128 to 127”, and then specifying `Ks' in the operand constraints.

Any register, memory or immediate integer operand is allowed, except for registers that are not general registers.

Any operand whatsoever is allowed, even if it does not satisfy general_operand. This is normally used in the constraint of a match_scratch when certain alternatives will not actually require a scratch register.

`0', `1', `2', ... `9'
An operand that matches the specified operand number is allowed. If a digit is used together with letters within the same alternative, the digit should come last.

This number is allowed to be more than a single digit. If multiple digits are encountered consecutively, they are interpreted as a single decimal integer. There is scant chance for ambiguity, since to-date it has never been desirable that `10' be interpreted as matching either operand 1 or operand 0. Should this be desired, one can use multiple alternatives instead.

This is called a matching constraint and what it really means is that the assembler has only a single operand that fills two roles considered separate in the RTL insn. For example, an add insn has two input operands and one output operand in the RTL, but on most CISC machines an add instruction really has only two operands, one of them an input-output operand:

          addl #35,r12

Matching constraints are used in these circumstances. More precisely, the two operands that match must include one input-only operand and one output-only operand. Moreover, the digit must be a smaller number than the number of the operand that uses it in the constraint.

For operands to match in a particular case usually means that they are identical-looking RTL expressions. But in a few special cases specific kinds of dissimilarity are allowed. For example, *x as an input operand will match *x++ as an output operand. For proper results in such cases, the output template should always use the output-operand's number when printing the operand.

An operand that is a valid memory address is allowed. This is for “load address” and “push address” instructions.

`p' in the constraint must be accompanied by address_operand as the predicate in the match_operand. This predicate interprets the mode specified in the match_operand as the mode of the memory reference for which the address would be valid.

Other letters can be defined in machine-dependent fashion to stand for particular classes of registers or other arbitrary operand types. `d', `a' and `f' are defined on the 68000/68020 to stand for data, address and floating point registers.

In order to have valid assembler code, each operand must satisfy its constraint. But a failure to do so does not prevent the pattern from applying to an insn. Instead, it directs the compiler to modify the code so that the constraint will be satisfied. Usually this is done by copying an operand into a register.

Contrast, therefore, the two instruction patterns that follow:

     (define_insn ""
       [(set (match_operand:SI 0 "general_operand" "=r")
             (plus:SI (match_dup 0)
                      (match_operand:SI 1 "general_operand" "r")))]

which has two operands, one of which must appear in two places, and

     (define_insn ""
       [(set (match_operand:SI 0 "general_operand" "=r")
             (plus:SI (match_operand:SI 1 "general_operand" "0")
                      (match_operand:SI 2 "general_operand" "r")))]

which has three operands, two of which are required by a constraint to be identical. If we are considering an insn of the form

     (insn n prev next
       (set (reg:SI 3)
            (plus:SI (reg:SI 6) (reg:SI 109)))

the first pattern would not apply at all, because this insn does not contain two identical subexpressions in the right place. The pattern would say, “That does not look like an add instruction; try other patterns”. The second pattern would say, “Yes, that's an add instruction, but there is something wrong with it”. It would direct the reload pass of the compiler to generate additional insns to make the constraint true. The results might look like this:

     (insn n2 prev n
       (set (reg:SI 3) (reg:SI 6))
     (insn n n2 next
       (set (reg:SI 3)
            (plus:SI (reg:SI 3) (reg:SI 109)))

It is up to you to make sure that each operand, in each pattern, has constraints that can handle any RTL expression that could be present for that operand. (When multiple alternatives are in use, each pattern must, for each possible combination of operand expressions, have at least one alternative which can handle that combination of operands.) The constraints don't need to allow any possible operand—when this is the case, they do not constrain—but they must at least point the way to reloading any possible operand so that it will fit.

If the operand's predicate can recognize registers, but the constraint does not permit them, it can make the compiler crash. When this operand happens to be a register, the reload pass will be stymied, because it does not know how to copy a register temporarily into memory.

If the predicate accepts a unary operator, the constraint applies to the operand. For example, the MIPS processor at ISA level 3 supports an instruction which adds two registers in SImode to produce a DImode result, but only if the registers are correctly sign extended. This predicate for the input operands accepts a sign_extend of an SImode register. Write the constraint to indicate the type of register that is required for the operand of the sign_extend.