The Common Lisp function DISASSEMBLE produces an implementation-specific description of the internal representation of a function. Its output is very useful when you want to improve the performance of your code, since it gives you an idea of what the machine will do.
Disassembly of byte-compiled code
For example, if you use CMUCL's byte-code compiler, the DISASSEMBLE function will show you the bytecodes generated for your function:
CL-USER> (defun foo (x y) (logand (logior x y) (logxor x y))) CL-USER> (let ((c::*byte-compile* t)) (compile 'foo)) Byte Compiling lambda (x y): CL-USER> (disassemble 'foo) 0: 00 Entry point, frame-size=0 1: 20 push-const #<FDEFINITION object for kernel:two-arg-and> 2: 21 push-const #<FDEFINITION object for kernel:two-arg-ior> 3: 11 push-arg 1 4: 10 push-arg 0 5: 8A named-call, 2 args 6: 22 push-const #<FDEFINITION object for kernel:two-arg-xor> 7: 11 push-arg 1 8: 10 push-arg 0 9: 8A named-call, 2 args 10: 9A named-tail-call, 2 args 11: 00 push-local 0 12: 00 push-local 0 13: 00 push-local 0 14: 00 push-local 0 15: 00 push-local 0
This is fairly easy to interpret, once you know that the byte-code interpreter is a stack machine. The references of the internal TWO-ARG-AND and TWO-ARG-IOR functions are pushed onto the stack, the arguments Y then X are pushed onto the stack, the TWO-ARG-IOR call is executed (leaving the result on the stack), the reference of the function TWO-ARG-XOR is pushed onto the stack, the arguments are pushed again, the TWO-ARG-XOR is executed, and finally the TWO-ARG-AND is executed in a tail-call.
Disassembly of native-compiled code
You are more likely to be interested in disassembling functions that have been compiled to native code. Understanding disassembly of native code is easier if you understand what certain common sequences of instructions are doing.
The following function illustrates CMUCL's ability to use unboxed arithmetic on values of type (unsigned-byte 32) and (signed-byte 32). It can also do similar things with floating point values. This significantly improves performance by reducing consing, and by allowing the compiler to emit instructions that operate directly on machine word sized values.
This optimization is easiest to implement inside a single function. It is more difficult to apply when making a function call, since it is necessary to ensure that the called function is expecting to receive unboxed arguments, rather than the normal calling convention. CMUCL is able to perform this type of optimization across function call boundaries when functions are declared to be inline, with locally defined functions (using FLET or LABELS), and when block compilation is used. See the CMUCL User's Manual for more information on this.
(defun foo (x y) (declare (optimize (speed 3) (space 0) (safety 0) (debug 0)) (type (unsigned-byte 32) x y)) (logand (logior x y) (logxor x y))) USER> (compile 'foo) Compiling LAMBDA (X Y): In: LAMBDA (X Y) #'(LAMBDA (X Y) (DECLARE (OPTIMIZE # # # #) (TYPE # X Y)) (BLOCK FOO (LOGAND # #))) Note: Doing unsigned word to integer coercion (cost 20) to "<return value>". Compilation unit finished. 1 note
The x86 dissassembly of the function follows below. The first line is the entry point of the function, at address 0x481E0770. This is followed by a standard function prologue, which checks the number of arguments and their types, and unboxes them (the SAR operations at labels L0 and L2). Starting at label L3 are the logical operations (OR, XOR, AND), which operate directly on the 32 bit values. Since we must box/tag the return value for functions that follow the normal calling convention, we test whether any of the upper 3 bits of the result are set (the TEST ECX, 3758096384 operation, where the magic number is just #xE0000000). If that's true, we create a boxed bignum representation (sequence at label L5). Otherwise we can just tag the result as a fixnum with a two-bit 0 tag (and a leading 0 sign bit, of course), using LEA EDX, [ECX*4].
481E0770: .ENTRY FOO() ; FUNCTION 788: POP DWORD PTR [EBP-8] 78B: LEA ESP, [EBP-32] 78E: MOV EAX, EDX 790: TEST AL, 3 792: JEQ L0 794: MOV ECX, [EAX-3] 797: JMP L1 799: L0: SAR EAX, 2 79C: MOV ECX, EAX 79E: L1: MOV EAX, EDI 7A0: TEST AL, 3 7A2: JEQ L2 7A4: MOV EAX, [EAX-3] 7A7: JMP L3 7A9: L2: SAR EAX, 2 7AC: L3: MOV EDX, ECX ; No-arg-parsing entry point 7AE: OR EDX, EAX 7B0: MOV EBX, ECX 7B2: XOR EBX, EAX 7B4: MOV ECX, EDX 7B6: AND ECX, EBX 7B8: TEST ECX, 3758096384 7BE: JNE L5 7C0: LEA EDX, [ECX*4] 7C7: L4: MOV ECX, [EBP-8] 7CA: MOV EAX, [EBP-4] 7CD: ADD ECX, 2 7D0: MOV ESP, EBP 7D2: MOV EBP, EAX 7D4: JMP ECX 7D6: NOP 7D7: NOP 7D8: L5: JNS L6 7DA: MOV EDX, 522 7DF: JMP L7 7E1: L6: MOV EDX, 266 7E6: L7: MOV BYTE PTR [#x280001D4], 0 ; COMMON-LISP::*PSEUDO-ATOMIC-INTERRUPTED* 7ED: MOV BYTE PTR [#x280001BC], 4 ; COMMON-LISP::*PSEUDO-ATOMIC-ATOMIC* 7F4: MOV EAX, 16 7F9: ADD EAX, [#x8069724] ; current_region_free_pointer 7FF: CMP EAX, [#x80696F8] ; current_region_end_addr 805: JBE L8 807: CALL #x80536F8 ; alloc_overflow_eax 80C: L8: XCHG EAX, [#x8069724] ; current_region_free_pointer 812: MOV [EAX], EDX 814: LEA EDX, [EAX+7] 817: MOV [EDX-3], ECX 81A: MOV BYTE PTR [#x280001BC], 0 ; COMMON-LISP::*PSEUDO-ATOMIC-ATOMIC* 821: CMP BYTE PTR [#x280001D4], 0 ; COMMON-LISP::*PSEUDO-ATOMIC-INTERRUPTED* 828: JEQ L9 82A: BREAK 9 ; Pending interrupt trap 82C: L9: JMP L4
FIXME: Explain the fact that the compiler can generate fast calls to the no-arg-parsing entry point, that bypass the checking of the number of arguments and their types, assuming that code has been compiled with low safety.
The code at label L4 is the normal function epilogue. FIXME explain.
The code at label L5 checks first whether the most-significant bit is set. If it is, we have to alloc two words for the bignum, since a full 32 bits, plust the now required sign bit will not fit inside a single machine word. If we only have 31 bits worth of integer, we can fit it and the leading sign bit inside a single machine word. Since we also need a word for the header, we thus allocate either 2 or 4 words of storage, (the heap is 8 byte aligned).
The code at labels L7 to L8 is ... FIXME.
While this example doesn't show it, CMUCL can handle unboxed values on the stack, so even when intermediate or argument values spill from registers to the stack, they can remain unboxed. On x86 platforms, this is handled using a conversative garbage collector. On other platforms, this is done by using separate unboxed stacks, on platforms that segregate unboxed and boxed values in stacks and the register file.
Acknowledgment: This description is based on a USENET article <firstname.lastname@example.org> on comp.lang.lisp, dated 2002-08-20, by Pierre Mai.