This pass transforms generic machine instructions into equivalent target-specific instructions. It traverses the MachineFunction bottom-up, selecting uses before definitions, enabling trivial dead code elimination.

API: InstructionSelector

The target implements the InstructionSelector class, containing the target-specific selection logic proper.

The instance is provided by the subtarget, so that it can specialize the selector by subtarget feature (with, e.g., a vector selector overriding parts of a general-purpose common selector). We might also want to parameterize it by MachineFunction, to enable selector variants based on function attributes like optsize.

The simple API consists of:

virtual bool select(MachineInstr &MI)

This target-provided method is responsible for mutating (or replacing) a possibly-generic MI into a fully target-specific equivalent. It is also responsible for doing the necessary constraining of gvregs into the appropriate register classes as well as passing through COPY instructions to the register allocator.

The InstructionSelector can fold other instructions into the selected MI, by walking the use-def chain of the vreg operands. As GlobalISel is Global, this folding can occur across basic blocks.

SelectionDAG Rule Imports

TableGen will import SelectionDAG rules and provide the following function to execute them:

bool selectImpl(MachineInstr &MI)

The --stats option can be used to determine what proportion of rules were successfully imported. The easiest way to use this is to copy the -gen-globalisel tablegen command from ninja -v and modify it.

Similarly, the --warn-on-skipped-patterns option can be used to obtain the reasons that rules weren’t imported. This can be used to focus on the most important rejection reasons.

PatLeaf Predicates

PatLeafs cannot be imported because their C++ is implemented in terms of SDNode objects. PatLeafs that handle immediate predicates should be replaced by ImmLeaf, IntImmLeaf, or FPImmLeaf as appropriate.

There’s no standard answer for other PatLeafs. Some standard predicates have been baked into TableGen but this should not generally be done.

Custom SDNodes

Custom SDNodes should be mapped to Target Pseudos using GINodeEquiv. This will cause the instruction selector to import them but you will also need to ensure the target pseudo is introduced to the MIR before the instruction selector. Any preceding pass is suitable but the legalizer will be a particularly common choice.


ComplexPatterns cannot be imported because their C++ is implemented in terms of SDNode objects. GlobalISel versions should be defined with GIComplexOperandMatcher and mapped to ComplexPattern with GIComplexPatternEquiv.

The following predicates are useful for porting ComplexPattern:

  • isBaseWithConstantOffset() - Check for base+offset structures
  • isOperandImmEqual() - Check for a particular constant
  • isObviouslySafeToFold() - Check for reasons an instruction can’t be sunk and folded into another.

There are some important points for the C++ implementation:

  • Don’t modify MIR in the predicate
  • Renderer lambdas should capture by value to avoid use-after-free. They will be used after the predicate returns.
  • Only create instructions in a renderer lambda. GlobalISel won’t clean up things you create but don’t use.