#runtime #compiler #framework #amd

nightly geobacter-runtime-amd

Geobacter AMDGPU specific runtime. Requires the Geobacter Rust compiler.

2 releases (1 stable)

1.0.0 Nov 20, 2019
0.1.0 Nov 20, 2019


13K SLoC

🚧 The Geobacter Rust Compiler and Runtime 🚧

What is Geobacter?

Geobacter is a framework to support single source accelerator programming, without requiring compiling from source twice. However, Geobacter is not a JIT; the expectation is that kernels are invoked repeatedly and are possibly also expensive to run. In fact, due to the nature of single function kernels, Geobacter enables a number of LLVM options which would too costly to run for all crates.

The name Geobacter comes from the first discovered bacteria which can oxidize organic components using iron oxide as an electron acceptor.

Currently, AMDGPU and HPC is the focus. In the future, support for generating eBPF functions will be added. Later, HLS will be supported.

How does this work?

In the Rust type system, every fn is given a unique type. Thus, we can refer to a function definition just by its type. In our Rust fork, we use special driver-defined intrinsic functions to essentially return a form of the Rust compiler's ty::Instance<'_>, along with other info specific to the desired target (for example, to support SPIR-V pipeline descriptions)

At runtime, we respool the compiler driver (into the runtime driver) using metadata from every dependency. We then lookup the real DefId and, through some compiler provider API tricks, get the LLVM codegen crate to generate IR for the corresponding function and all of its dependencies. To be clear though, this is not a JIT, and is ill-suited to JIT-esk things; for instance, we enable extra LLVM optimizations, like Polly as well as increase the optimization search space. Thus, while the optimizations are relatively fast, for the purposes of a JIT, they are too slow.

There is an in process cache, in the form of compiler generated statics, so kernels aren't codegenned more than once per accelerator target.

Status (ie what does and doesn't work)

Generally, everything up to LLVM optimizations works for all targets. Getting an id for a specific function at compile time works. At runtime, loading every crate's metadata and using that to set up a pseudo Rust driver works, as well taking the aforementioned function id and running codegen for it including optimizations and (if applicable) sending it to a target machine a second time works.


This target works out of the box, though dispatch requires some unsafety as there are still unsolved foot guns surrounding passing references to device inaccessible memory (like the stack!) to kernels. Additionally, kernel outputs have to be explicitly passed by pointer, because &mut must be unique, but all workitems share the same argument values!

"Extra" features:

  • Nice interface to specify kernel launch bounds and get the workitem/workgroup ids efficiently,
  • Device visible host memory allocators,
  • Device memory allocation, but this can't be used in Box/etc because large BAR can't be guaranteed,
  • Device textures,
  • Device side signals,
  • (Mostly) Safe LDS (workgroup memory) interfaces for a few usage scenarios.


  • Nicer cross-bar interfaces.
  • Adapt OpenCL std functions to have Geobacter equivalents.
  • Safe output writes: two workitems must not create mutable references to the same variable.
  • Device side enqueue: need mechanisms to embed child kernel image handles in the parent kernel.
  • Device -> host MPSC channels.


Vulkan/SPIR-V isn't nearly as well supported as AMDGPU, but "simple" compute kernels should work, and there currently isn't a guide for its use.

Geobacter requires that your Vulkan implementation support the physical storage buffer addresses and variable pointers extensions.


No support.

How to get the toolchain?

ATM, we don't have prebuilt compilers for you to download, let alone the ability to download directly from rustup.

So you'll need to build the Rust toolchain yourself. See BUILD.md.

TODO 🚧 offer prebuilt packages.

How do I code with this?

See CODING.md! :^)

Who is working on this?

Richard Diamond works on this in his free time.

New contributors are absolutely welcome.


~124K SLoC