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[ARM] Command-line options for embedded position-independent code

Authored by olista01 on Aug 5 2016, 3:35 AM.



This patch (with the corresponding ARM backend patch) adds support for
some new relocation models:

  • Read-only position independence (ROPI): Code and read-only data is accessed PC-relative. The offsets between all code and RO data sections are known at static link time.
  • Read-write position independence (RWPI): Read-write data is accessed relative to a static base register. The offsets between all writeable data sections are known at static link time.

These two modes are independent (they specify how different objects
should be addressed), so they can be used individually or together.

These modes are intended for bare-metal systems or systems with small
real-time operating systems. They are designed to avoid the need for a
dynamic linker, the only initialisation required is setting the static
base register to an appropriate value for RWPI code.

There is one C construct not currently supported by these modes: global
variables initialised to the address of another global variable or
function, where that address is not known at static-link time. There are
a few possible ways to solve this:

  • Disallow this, and require the user to write their own initialisation function if they need variables like this.
  • Emit dynamic initialisers for these variables in the compiler, called from the .init_array section (as is currently done for C++ dynamic initialisers). We have a patch to do this, described in my original RFC email (, but the feedback from that RFC thread was that this is not something that belongs in clang.
  • Use a small dynamic loader to fix up these variables, by adding the difference between the load and execution address of the relevant section. This would require linker co-operation to generate a table of addresses that need fixing up.

Diff Detail


Event Timeline

olista01 updated this revision to Diff 66921.Aug 5 2016, 3:35 AM
olista01 retitled this revision from to [ARM] Command-line options for embedded position-independent code.
olista01 updated this object.
olista01 set the repository for this revision to rL LLVM.
olista01 added a subscriber: cfe-commits.
rengolin accepted this revision.Aug 5 2016, 7:08 AM
rengolin edited edge metadata.

Hi Oliver,

The driver part looks good to me, thanks!

I haven't looked at the LLVM side of the patch. The other reviews probably know more than I do about that, anyway. :)


This revision is now accepted and ready to land.Aug 5 2016, 7:08 AM
This revision was automatically updated to reflect the committed changes.