hashable arch native

Posted on 2024-06-24 by Oleg Grenrus

In hashable- I made it use a XXH3 algorithm for hashing byte arrays. The version and backlashed, as I enabled -march=native by default, and that causes distribution issues. Version doesn't enable -march=native by default.

This by default leaves some performance on the table, e.g. a quick benchmark comparison on my machine (model name: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X 16-Core Processor) gives

Benchmark              without   with            
hash/Text/strict/11    1.481e-8  1.289e-8 -12.95%
hash/Text/strict/128   0.319e-7  0.263e-7 -17.73%
hash/Text/strict/2^20  2.220e-4  1.252e-4 -43.61%
hash/Text/strict/40    1.934e-8  1.714e-8 -11.37%
hash/Text/strict/5     1.194e-8  0.995e-8 -16.64%
hash/Text/strict/512   0.778e-7  0.649e-7 -16.62%
hash/Text/strict/8     1.215e-8  0.983e-8 -19.09%
Geometric mean         0.810e-7  0.644e-7 -20.47%

i.e. the new default is 15% slower for small inputs (which is probably the use case for hashable), and it gets worse for larger ones.

https://hackage.haskell.org/package/xxhash-ffi-0.3/xxhash-ffi.cabal doesn't give any control to the user, specifically; there's also a bit of non-determinism because the pkg-config flag is automatic - you may not notice which version you use, having libxxhash-dev installed is rare, but it may happen. (So if you have package xxhash-ffi cc-options: -march=native, it might be not used, if you forget to force off the pkg-config flag).

#architecture selection and chip optimizations

Which made me wonder, how much this kind of very low-level performance optimisation we leave on the table when we only care about running binaries locally (e.g. tests; but also benchmarks).

For example, popCount is relatively common, https://hackage-search.serokell.io/?q=popCount says 1948 matches across 196 packages; and includes things like vector-algorithms which one would hope to be fast. countLeadingZeros is also common with 541 matches across 114 packages (and 532 matches across 82 package for countTrailingZeros including unordered-containers).

To get the popcnt operation you need to enable msse4.2, to get lzcnt instead of bsr you need to enable -mbmi2. popCount fallback is a loop, it's slow (I was thinking about that when I wrote splitmix in 2017; however there popCount is not used in hot path; except if you split a lot... like you do when using QuickCheck's Gen... hopefully doesn't matter... does it?). This StackOverflow answer says that there is no fallback from lzcnt to bsr, but maybe it's LZCNT == (31 - BSR) as accepted answer says. I'm not an expert in x86 ISA; nor I want to be writing Haskell; I hope there was some good reason to introduce LZCNT, and it's worth using when it exists.

I don't think many people add

package *
  ghc-options: -msse4.2 -mavx -mbmi -mbmi2

to their cabal.project.local files. Does it matter? I hope that shouldn't make anything worse (except the portability).

There are few small issues with code generation like https://gitlab.haskell.org/ghc/ghc/-/issues/25019 or https://gitlab.haskell.org/ghc/ghc/-/issues/24989, I'm sure these will be fixed soon.

However, I'm not so optimistic about bigger issues like adding arch=native and also -mtune=...; as far as I understand, architecture flags tell compiler that it can or cannot use some instructions, where mtune is an optimization flag. Even if some instruction is supported by a chip, it doesn't mean it's fast (but maybe it's more relevant for SIMD stuff). That's knowledge I hope compiler to know better than me.

Or even bigger ones to decide whether -march=native -mtune=native should be default. Arguably, e.g. GCC and Clang produce very portable binaries by default, but at least they have convenient enough ways to tune binaries for local execution too.


This low-level instruction business is surprisingly common. E.g. text uses simdutf except your text probably doesn't because GHC ships text without simdutf (as currently around GHC-9.10.1 time). The text doesn't suffer from -march=native issue like hashable, at least partially because of the above. I'm not sure how the things work there, it looks like simdutf compiles code for various processors:


and then uses dynamic dispatch. Or maybe the sse4.2 is just so common nowadays, that the few rare people who compile text themselves don't run into portability issues. (GHC only enables sse2 for Haskell code

text also has some non-simdutf code too as e.g. the issue about avx512 detection highlights; and that uses dynamic dispatch as far as I can tell. (What's the cost of dynamic dispatch? I doubt it's free, and when the operations are small it might show, does it?)

Given all that, I think that it won't hurt if one could compile text so there aren't runtime ISA-detection (so things can be tuned for your chip), even if the default were to do a runtime dispatch. (e.g. if we had that, there would be an immediate workaround for above avx512 detection issue: explicitly turn it off). And again, it would be nice if GHC and cabal-install had convenient ways to enable for-local-execution optimisations (and for bundled libraries like text it's almost impossible nowadays, due no good way to force their re-installation, Cabal#8702 is a related issue).


containers also use popCount, countLeadingZeros; but I bet that it's always used with the portable configuration in practice, as it's bundled with GHC, similarly as text library is. (The IntSet / IntMap implementation uses bit level operations, it might benefit from using better instructions when available).


It feels that the end of compilation pipeline - the assembly generation - isn't getting as much attention as it could1. Sure, these improvements would only decrease run times constant factors only. On the other hand, if we could get 2-3% improvements in hot loops without source code changes, why not get these?

I'm biased, (not only) as maintainer of hashable I would like to see CLMUL instruction, and AESENC would be nice to play with. But if I the 99.9% used default would rely on their software fallbacks rather than fast silicon implementation, I bet there won't be anything interesting to discover.

And it would be nice to have CPP macros to reflect whether GHC will generate POPCNT, LZCNT, CLMUL, AESENC instruction or their fallbacks. E.g. in hashable it's worth using AESENC for mixing if it's a silicon one, otherwise it's probably better to stick to a different but simpler fallback. (Maybe we already has these: GHC#7554 suggests so, maybe it's only a documentation issue GHC#25021).

  1. I noticed the "GHC gets divide-by-constant optimisation, closing my 10 years old ticket about 10x slowdowns" post on Reddit yesterday. Fun coincidence.↩︎

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