Swift in bare-metal embedded programming/Swift runtime


(Rick M) #1

Is it possible to use Swift for bare-metal programming on embedded devices? These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

But bare metal development for all of them starts with emitting code with "raw" packaging (no Mach or ELF headers, etc.), and the ability to read and write specific memory addresses.

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

Most such development is done in C, and there is always some form of library to take on some of the standard library tasks and stub out basic IO, as well as filling in gaps for larger variable sizes not directly supported by the hardware.

I imagine there's some runtime support for ARC, although maybe that's handled entirely in the compilation phase?

Anyway, I'd appreciate someone more knowledgable letting me know if this is something I should experiment with. Thanks!

···

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com


(David Sweeris) #2

There's definitely a runtime, but I *think* you can avoid actually using it by being very careful with your data structures. ARC means that classes obviously trigger it, and I think it *might* be involved resizing arrays and strings (they do some tricks behind the scenes, but I can't remember what).

So... only use structs and don't resize anything? I'm not sure... I think there might be some cases where protocols or indirect enums get stored as references, and that might involve the runtime as well.

Maybe you should go over to the evolution list and suggest a "no runtime" compiler flag or source code annotation, which disallows anything which would use the runtime. I believe there could be advantages outside of running on bare-metal, since you could use it to get the compiler to yell at you for doing overhead-inducing stuff in a loop, for example.

Anyway, best of luck :slight_smile:

- Dave Sweeris

···

On Aug 9, 2016, at 15:10, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

Is it possible to use Swift for bare-metal programming on embedded devices? These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

But bare metal development for all of them starts with emitting code with "raw" packaging (no Mach or ELF headers, etc.), and the ability to read and write specific memory addresses.

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

Most such development is done in C, and there is always some form of library to take on some of the standard library tasks and stub out basic IO, as well as filling in gaps for larger variable sizes not directly supported by the hardware.

I imagine there's some runtime support for ARC, although maybe that's handled entirely in the compilation phase?

Anyway, I'd appreciate someone more knowledgable letting me know if this is something I should experiment with. Thanks!

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users


(Jens Alfke) #3

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

I have never seen the Swift source code, but I’d be surprised if Swift binaries didn’t require at least the standard C runtime library. (It’s pretty hard to get anything done without at least having malloc/free!)

Don’t forget that the binary will have to include the implementations of the standard Swift library classes, at least the ones used by your program. I’m sure String in particular is a significant chunk of code, since it has to do all kinds of Unicode stuff. (In fact it might have a dependency on ICU, which is a pretty hefty C library.)

These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

Arduinos are probably right out, since there’s no way anyone’s going to port Swift to an 8-bit CPU!

If you’re going for something bigger than that, why not just use a Raspberry Pi or C.H.I.P. or one of the other tiny ARM PC boards? They all run Linux, and I believe people are already working on porting Swift to run on those. C.H.I.P. costs $9, and I saw a blurb somewhere about a competitor that’s only $5.

—Jens

···

On Aug 9, 2016, at 1:10 PM, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:


(Saagar Jha) #4

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

I have never seen the Swift source code, but I’d be surprised if Swift binaries didn’t require at least the standard C runtime library. (It’s pretty hard to get anything done without at least having malloc/free!)

Don’t forget that the binary will have to include the implementations of the standard Swift library classes, at least the ones used by your program. I’m sure String in particular is a significant chunk of code, since it has to do all kinds of Unicode stuff. (In fact it might have a dependency on ICU, which is a pretty hefty C library.)

These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

Arduinos are probably right out, since there’s no way anyone’s going to port Swift to an 8-bit CPU!

If you’re going for something bigger than that, why not just use a Raspberry Pi or C.H.I.P. or one of the other tiny ARM PC boards? They all run Linux, and I believe people are already working on porting Swift to run on those.

Minor correction: Swift already builds and runs on the Raspberry Pi :)

···

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 10, 2016, at 08:31, Jens Alfke via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

On Aug 9, 2016, at 1:10 PM, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

C.H.I.P. costs $9, and I saw a blurb somewhere about a competitor that’s only $5.

—Jens
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(Rick M) #5

Well, that doesn't work for custom hardware, and importantly, I don't want to run Linux. It's very hard to make a fast-booting device with Linux.

···

On Aug 10, 2016, at 09:31 , Jens Alfke <jens@mooseyard.com> wrote:

If you’re going for something bigger than that, why not just use a Raspberry Pi or C.H.I.P. or one of the other tiny ARM PC boards? They all run Linux, and I believe people are already working on porting Swift to run on those. C.H.I.P. costs $9, and I saw a blurb somewhere about a competitor that’s only $5.

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com


(Slava Pestov) #6

Even if you take care not to create class instances, the compiler emits many calls to runtime functions to implement features such as generics, casts and existentials. It is possible to write code where a large number of runtime calls are optimized away, but I don’t think they can be eliminated completely.

If anyone is interested in taking this on as a community project, it would be a fair amount of work, but I think the first step could be to add compiler flags where calls to runtime functions become diagnostics. Again though, I’m not sure how much effort it would take to eliminate them completely.

Slava

···

On Aug 10, 2016, at 3:28 AM, David Sweeris via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

There's definitely a runtime, but I *think* you can avoid actually using it by being very careful with your data structures. ARC means that classes obviously trigger it, and I think it *might* be involved resizing arrays and strings (they do some tricks behind the scenes, but I can't remember what).

So... only use structs and don't resize anything? I'm not sure... I think there might be some cases where protocols or indirect enums get stored as references, and that might involve the runtime as well.

Maybe you should go over to the evolution list and suggest a "no runtime" compiler flag or source code annotation, which disallows anything which would use the runtime. I believe there could be advantages outside of running on bare-metal, since you could use it to get the compiler to yell at you for doing overhead-inducing stuff in a loop, for example.

Anyway, best of luck :slight_smile:

- Dave Sweeris

On Aug 9, 2016, at 15:10, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

Is it possible to use Swift for bare-metal programming on embedded devices? These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

But bare metal development for all of them starts with emitting code with "raw" packaging (no Mach or ELF headers, etc.), and the ability to read and write specific memory addresses.

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

Most such development is done in C, and there is always some form of library to take on some of the standard library tasks and stub out basic IO, as well as filling in gaps for larger variable sizes not directly supported by the hardware.

I imagine there's some runtime support for ARC, although maybe that's handled entirely in the compilation phase?

Anyway, I'd appreciate someone more knowledgable letting me know if this is something I should experiment with. Thanks!

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users


(Rick M) #7

Well, even C++ requires some amount of run time. On a larger MCU, the runtime shouldn't be a problem at all. What I want to do is minimize the amount of OS I have to implement. For example, using newlib (https://sourceware.org/newlib/), I can stub out 20-odd functions, and everything gets statically linked into a monolithic block of code that is a combination of my code, the runtime, and those 20-odd function stubs. A special chunk of code, usually containing assembly language, ensures the processor and MMU are properly set up just after boot, and you're off to the races.

I imagine there will be additional burden to support threading and GCD (which would be nice to have). But before that, supporting synchronization and interrupt routines.

Ah, interrupt routines. Is there any way to mark a function as "naked" in Swift? How would I request that feature?

···

On Aug 11, 2016, at 21:46 , Slava Pestov <spestov@apple.com> wrote:

Even if you take care not to create class instances, the compiler emits many calls to runtime functions to implement features such as generics, casts and existentials. It is possible to write code where a large number of runtime calls are optimized away, but I don’t think they can be eliminated completely.

If anyone is interested in taking this on as a community project, it would be a fair amount of work, but I think the first step could be to add compiler flags where calls to runtime functions become diagnostics. Again though, I’m not sure how much effort it would take to eliminate them completely.

Slava

On Aug 10, 2016, at 3:28 AM, David Sweeris via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

There's definitely a runtime, but I *think* you can avoid actually using it by being very careful with your data structures. ARC means that classes obviously trigger it, and I think it *might* be involved resizing arrays and strings (they do some tricks behind the scenes, but I can't remember what).

So... only use structs and don't resize anything? I'm not sure... I think there might be some cases where protocols or indirect enums get stored as references, and that might involve the runtime as well.

Maybe you should go over to the evolution list and suggest a "no runtime" compiler flag or source code annotation, which disallows anything which would use the runtime. I believe there could be advantages outside of running on bare-metal, since you could use it to get the compiler to yell at you for doing overhead-inducing stuff in a loop, for example.

Anyway, best of luck :slight_smile:

- Dave Sweeris

On Aug 9, 2016, at 15:10, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

Is it possible to use Swift for bare-metal programming on embedded devices? These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

But bare metal development for all of them starts with emitting code with "raw" packaging (no Mach or ELF headers, etc.), and the ability to read and write specific memory addresses.

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

Most such development is done in C, and there is always some form of library to take on some of the standard library tasks and stub out basic IO, as well as filling in gaps for larger variable sizes not directly supported by the hardware.

I imagine there's some runtime support for ARC, although maybe that's handled entirely in the compilation phase?

Anyway, I'd appreciate someone more knowledgable letting me know if this is something I should experiment with. Thanks!

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com


(David Sweeris) #8

I don't know what you mean by "naked function", but you'd request it by starting a thread on swift evolution (which I would encourage you to do).

- Dave Sweeris

···

On Aug 15, 2016, at 17:36, Rick Mann <rmann@latencyzero.com> wrote:

Well, even C++ requires some amount of run time. On a larger MCU, the runtime shouldn't be a problem at all. What I want to do is minimize the amount of OS I have to implement. For example, using newlib (https://sourceware.org/newlib/), I can stub out 20-odd functions, and everything gets statically linked into a monolithic block of code that is a combination of my code, the runtime, and those 20-odd function stubs. A special chunk of code, usually containing assembly language, ensures the processor and MMU are properly set up just after boot, and you're off to the races.

I imagine there will be additional burden to support threading and GCD (which would be nice to have). But before that, supporting synchronization and interrupt routines.

Ah, interrupt routines. Is there any way to mark a function as "naked" in Swift? How would I request that feature?

On Aug 11, 2016, at 21:46 , Slava Pestov <spestov@apple.com> wrote:

Even if you take care not to create class instances, the compiler emits many calls to runtime functions to implement features such as generics, casts and existentials. It is possible to write code where a large number of runtime calls are optimized away, but I don’t think they can be eliminated completely.

If anyone is interested in taking this on as a community project, it would be a fair amount of work, but I think the first step could be to add compiler flags where calls to runtime functions become diagnostics. Again though, I’m not sure how much effort it would take to eliminate them completely.

Slava

On Aug 10, 2016, at 3:28 AM, David Sweeris via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

There's definitely a runtime, but I *think* you can avoid actually using it by being very careful with your data structures. ARC means that classes obviously trigger it, and I think it *might* be involved resizing arrays and strings (they do some tricks behind the scenes, but I can't remember what).

So... only use structs and don't resize anything? I'm not sure... I think there might be some cases where protocols or indirect enums get stored as references, and that might involve the runtime as well.

Maybe you should go over to the evolution list and suggest a "no runtime" compiler flag or source code annotation, which disallows anything which would use the runtime. I believe there could be advantages outside of running on bare-metal, since you could use it to get the compiler to yell at you for doing overhead-inducing stuff in a loop, for example.

Anyway, best of luck :slight_smile:

- Dave Sweeris

On Aug 9, 2016, at 15:10, Rick Mann via swift-users <swift-users@swift.org> wrote:

Is it possible to use Swift for bare-metal programming on embedded devices? These devices usually have memory-mapped registers that are read and written to affect the operation of the device. Some can be quite small (e.g. 8-bit registers, simple single physical memory address space), and others quite robust (full 32- or 64-bit machines with MMUs, etc.).

But bare metal development for all of them starts with emitting code with "raw" packaging (no Mach or ELF headers, etc.), and the ability to read and write specific memory addresses.

For the smaller devices, runtime library overhead is a concern (mostly due to code size). Is it possible to write swift code with no runtime library? I think this is possible in Rust (came up on another list).

Most such development is done in C, and there is always some form of library to take on some of the standard library tasks and stub out basic IO, as well as filling in gaps for larger variable sizes not directly supported by the hardware.

I imagine there's some runtime support for ARC, although maybe that's handled entirely in the compilation phase?

Anyway, I'd appreciate someone more knowledgable letting me know if this is something I should experiment with. Thanks!

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users

_______________________________________________
swift-users mailing list
swift-users@swift.org
https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-users

--
Rick Mann
rmann@latencyzero.com


(Slava Pestov) #9

This would require significant design work. The main problem is that the Swift runtime is not re-entrant, because typical malloc() implementations are not re-entrant, and also because of how metadata caching uses locks. So even if you could emit a function with the right calling convention, it wouldn't be safe to use as an interrupt handler.

Slava

···

On Aug 15, 2016, at 3:36 PM, Rick Mann <rmann@latencyzero.com> wrote:

Well, even C++ requires some amount of run time. On a larger MCU, the runtime shouldn't be a problem at all. What I want to do is minimize the amount of OS I have to implement. For example, using newlib (https://sourceware.org/newlib/), I can stub out 20-odd functions, and everything gets statically linked into a monolithic block of code that is a combination of my code, the runtime, and those 20-odd function stubs. A special chunk of code, usually containing assembly language, ensures the processor and MMU are properly set up just after boot, and you're off to the races.

I imagine there will be additional burden to support threading and GCD (which would be nice to have). But before that, supporting synchronization and interrupt routines.

Ah, interrupt routines. Is there any way to mark a function as "naked" in Swift? How would I request that feature?