Page MenuHomePhabricator

[BPF] Add BTF generation for BPF target

Authored by yonghong-song on Oct 5 2018, 3:04 PM.



BTF is the debug format for BPF, a kernel virtual machine
and widely used for tracing, networking and security, etc ([1]).

Currently only instruction streams are passed to kernel,
the kernel verifier verifies them before execution. In order to
provide better visibility of bpf programs to user space
tools, some debug information, e.g., function names and
debug line information are desirable for kernel so tools
can get such information with better annotation
for jited instructions for performance or other reasons.

The dwarf is too complicated in kernel and for BPF.
Hence, BTF is designed to be the debug format for BPF ([2]).
Right now, pahole supports BTF for types, which
are generated based on dwarf sections in the ELF file.

In order to annotate performance metrics for jited bpf insns,
it is necessary to pass debug line info to the kernel.
Furthermore, we want to pass the actual code to the
kernel because of the following reasons:

. bpf program typically is small so storage overhead
  should be small.
. in bpf land, it is totally possible that
  an application loads the bpf program into the
  kernel and then that application quits, so
  holding debug info by the user space application
  is not practical.
. having source codes directly kept by kernel
  would ease deployment since the original source
  code does not need ship on every hosts and
  kernel-devel package does not need to be
  deployed even if kernel headers are used.

The only reliable time to get the source code is
during compilation time. This will result in both more
accurate information and easier deployment as
stated in the above.

Another consideration is for JIT. The project like bcc
use MCJIT to compile a C program into bpf insns and
load them to the kernel ([3]). The generated BTF sections
will be readily available for such cases as well.

This patch implemented generation of BTF info in llvm
compiler. The BTF related sections will be generated
when both -target bpf and -g are specified. Two sections
are generated:

.BTF contains all the type and string information, and
.BTF.ext contains the func_info and line_info.

The separation is related to how two sections are used
differently in bpf loader, e.g., linux libbpf ([4]).
The .BTF section can be loaded into the kernel directly
while .BTF.ext needs loader manipulation before loading
to the kernel. The format of the each section is roughly
defined in llvm:include/llvm/MC/MCBTFContext.h and
from the implementation in llvm:lib/MC/MCBTFContext.cpp.
A later example also shows the contents in each section.

The type and func_info are gathered during CodeGen/AsmPrinter
by traversing dwarf debug_info. The line_info is
gathered in MCObjectStreamer before writing to
the object file. After all the information is gathered,
the two sections are emitted in MCObjectStreamer::finishImpl.

With cmake CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug, the compiler can
dump out all the tables except insn offset, which
will be resolved later as relocation records.
The debug type "btf" is used for BTFContext dump.

Dwarf tests the debug info generation with
llvm-dwarfdump to decode the binary sections and
check whether the result is expected. Currently
we do not have such a tool yet. We will implement
btf dump functionality in bpftool ([5]) as the bpftool is
considered the recommended tool for bpf introspection.
The implementation for type and func_info is tested
with linux kernel test cases. The line_info is visually
checked with dump from linux kernel libbpf ([4]) and
checked with readelf dumping section raw data.

Note that the .BTF and .BTF.ext information will not
be emitted to assembly code and there is no assembler
support for BTF either.

In the below, with a clang/llvm built with CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug,
Each table contents are shown for a simple C program.

-bash-4.2$ cat -n test.c
     1  struct A {
     2    int a;
     3    char b;
     4  };
     6  int test(struct A *t) {
     7    return t->a;
     8  }
-bash-4.2$ clang -O2 -target bpf -g -mllvm -debug-only=btf -c test.c
Type Table:
[1] FUNC name_off=1 info=0x0c000001 size/type=2
[2] INT name_off=12 info=0x01000000 size/type=4
[3] PTR name_off=0 info=0x02000000 size/type=4
[4] STRUCT name_off=16 info=0x04000002 size/type=8
        name_off=18 type=2 bit_offset=0
        name_off=20 type=5 bit_offset=32
[5] INT name_off=22 info=0x01000000 size/type=1

String Table:
0 :
1 : test
6 : .text
12 : int
16 : A
18 : a
20 : b
22 : char
27 : test.c
34 : int test(struct A *t) {
58 :   return t->a;

FuncInfo Table:
        insn_offset=<Omitted> type_id=1

LineInfo Table:
        insn_offset=<Omitted> file_name_off=27 line_off=34 line_num=6 column_num=0
        insn_offset=<Omitted> file_name_off=27 line_off=58 line_num=7 column_num=3
-bash-4.2$ readelf -S test.o
  [12] .BTF              PROGBITS         0000000000000000  0000028d
       00000000000000c1  0000000000000000           0     0     1
  [13] .BTF.ext          PROGBITS         0000000000000000  0000034e
       0000000000000050  0000000000000000           0     0     1
  [14] .rel.BTF.ext      REL              0000000000000000  00000648
       0000000000000030  0000000000000010          16    13     8

The latest linux kernel ([6]) can already support .BTF with type information.
The [7] has the reference implementation in linux kernel side
to support .BTF.ext func_info. The .BTF.ext line_info support is not
implemented yet. If you have difficulty accessing [6], you can
manually do the following to access the code:

git clone
cd bpf-next-linux
git checkout btf


Signed-off-by: Song Liu <>
Signed-off-by: Yonghong Song <>
Acked-by: Alexei Starovoitov <>

Diff Detail


Event Timeline

yonghong-song created this revision.Oct 5 2018, 3:04 PM

remove unneeded header files.

ast accepted this revision.Oct 12 2018, 9:19 AM

we will be landing this shortly.
BTF side was thoroughly tested and kernel support was there for some time.
If there is a better way to integrate BTF with MC please let us know.

This revision is now accepted and ready to land.Oct 12 2018, 9:19 AM
Closed by commit rL344366: [BPF] Add BTF generation for BPF target (authored by yhs, committed by ). · Explain WhyOct 12 2018, 10:03 AM
This revision was automatically updated to reflect the committed changes.
efriedma reopened this revision.Oct 12 2018, 12:48 PM
efriedma added a subscriber: efriedma.

Reverted in r344405.

Please review the developer policy again before you commit patches in the future. Committing patches without review is not allowed except in narrow cases. And adding new features without tests is not allowed.

This revision is now accepted and ready to land.Oct 12 2018, 12:48 PM

Reverted in r344405.

Please review the developer policy again before you commit patches in the future. Committing patches without review is not allowed except in narrow cases. And adding new features without tests is not allowed.

Thanks Eli for making it clean. Should the BTF debugging format be discussed on llvm-dev? (I cannot find a thread about it)

yonghong-song abandoned this revision.Oct 25 2018, 8:48 PM

Abandon this revision.