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  1. JDK
  2. JDK-8019929

PPC64 (part 107): Extend ELF-decoder to support PPC64 function descriptor tables


    • Type: Enhancement
    • Status: Resolved
    • Priority: P4
    • Resolution: Fixed
    • Affects Version/s: port-stage-ppc-aix
    • Fix Version/s: port-stage-ppc-aix
    • Component/s: hotspot
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        This is preparation for PPC64 integration: http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/175
        This and following ppc64 changes will go into staging repository first and tested there: http://hg.openjdk.java.net/ppc-aix-port/stage/


        On PowerPC-64 (and other architectures like for example IA64) a pointer to
        a function is not just a plain code address, but instead a pointer to a so
        called function descriptor (which is simply a structure containing 3
        pointers). This fact is also reflected in the ELF ABI for PowerPC-64.

        On architectures like x86 or SPARC, the ELF symbol table contains the start
        address and size of an object. So for example for a function object (i.e.
        type 'STT_FUNC') the symbol table's 'st_value' and 'st_size' fields
        directly represent the starting address and size of that function. On PPC64
        however, the symbol table's 'st_value' field only contains an index into
        another, PPC64 specific '.opd' (official procedure descriptors) section,
        while the 'st_size' field still holds the size of the corresponding
        function. In order to get the actual start address of a function, it is
        necessary to read the corresponding function descriptor entry in the '.opd'
        section at the corresponding index and extract the start address from

        That's exactly what this 'ElfFuncDescTable' class is used for. If the
        HotSpot runs on a PPC64 machine, and the corresponding ELF files contains
        an '.opd' section (which is actually mandatory on PPC64) it will be read
        into an object of type 'ElfFuncDescTable' just like the string and symbol
        table sections. Later on, during symbol lookup in
        'ElfSymbolTable::lookup()' this function descriptor table will be used if
        available to find the real function address.

        All this is how things work today (2013) on contemporary Linux
        distributions (i.e. SLES 10) and new version of GCC (i.e. > 4.0). However
        there is a history, and it goes like this:

        In SLES 9 times (sometimes before GCC 3.4) gcc/ld on PPC64 generated two
        entries in the symbol table for every function. The value of the symbol
        with the name of the function was the address of the function descriptor
        while the dot '.' prefixed name was reserved to hold the actual address of
        that function (

        For a C-function 'foo' this resulted in two symbol table entries like this
        (extracted from the output of 'readelf -a '):

        Section Headers:
          [ 9] .text PROGBITS 0000000000000a20 00000a20
               00000000000005a0 0000000000000000 AX 0 0 16
          [21] .opd PROGBITS 00000000000113b8 000013b8
               0000000000000138 0000000000000000 WA 0 0 8

        Symbol table '.symtab' contains 86 entries:
           Num: Value Size Type Bind Vis Ndx Name
            76: 00000000000114c0 24 FUNC GLOBAL DEFAULT 21 foo
            78: 0000000000000bb0 76 FUNC GLOBAL DEFAULT 9 .foo

         You can see now that the '.foo' entry actually points into the '.text'
        segment ('Ndx'=9) and its value and size fields represent the functions
        actual address and size. On the other hand, the entry for plain 'foo'
        points into the '.opd' section ('Ndx'=21) and its value and size fields are
        the index into the '.opd' section and the size of the corresponding '.opd'
        section entry (3 pointers on PPC64).

        These so called 'dot symbols' were dropped around gcc 3.4 from GCC and
        BINUTILS, see http://gcc.gnu.org/ml/gcc-patches/2004-08/msg00557.html. But
        nevertheless it may still be necessary to support both formats because we
        either run on an old system or because it is possible at any time that
        functions appear in the stack trace which come from old-style libraries.

        Therefore we not only have to check for the presence of the function
        descriptor table during symbol lookup in 'ElfSymbolTable::lookup()'. We
        additionally have to check that the symbol table entry references the
        '.opd' section. Only in that case we can resolve the actual function
        address from there. Otherwise we use the plain 'st_value' field from the
        symbol table as function address. This way we can also lookup the symbols
        in old-style ELF libraries (although we get the 'dotted' versions in that
        case). However, if present, the 'dot' will be conditionally removed on
        PPC64 from the symbol in 'ElfDecoder::demangle()' in decoder_linux.cpp.

        Notice that we can not reliably get the function address from old-style
        libraries because the 'st_value' field of the symbol table entries which
        point into the '.opd' section denote the size of the corresponding '.opd'
        entry and not that of the corresponding function. This has changed for the
        symbol table entries in new-style libraries as described at the beginning
        of this documentation.

        This change also slightly improves the implementation of
        ElfSymbolTable::lookup(). Before, the method always iterated over all
        symbols in the symbol table and returned the one with the highest address
        below the requested addr argument. This not only could take a significant
        amount of time for big libraries, it could also return bogus symbols for
        addresses which were not really covered by that symbol table at all. The
        new versions additionally uses the symbol table's st_size field to verify
        that the requested addr argument is indeed within the range covered by the
        corresponding symbol table entry. If so, the search is stopped and the
        symbol is returned immediately.


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                • Assignee:
                  anoll Albert Noll (Inactive)
                  anoll Albert Noll (Inactive)
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