Categories
coding debugging iOS iPhone

Alignment of double values on ARM architectures

Consider the following code:

class C {
...
uint8_t *data;
size_t size;
...

void writeDouble(double v)
{
...
reinterpret_cast<double*>(this->data)[this->size] = v;
this->size += sizeof(double);
...
}

};

Looks harmless enough, doesn’t it? But here is the problem: It’s not necessarily portable or well behaving code. After debugging for about three hours, I found out something interesting. Namely that on ARM platforms, such as the iPhone, double values on the stack need to be stored at 8 byte aligned memory addresses. This was some existing code I was using, so it took me a while to get to this function and to its problem. Single precision float values have no such restriction, by the way. There are two workarounds in the above case. 1) Write a small for-loop that casts the double value to a uint8_t * and copy the double value byte-wise, or 2) use malloc to copy the value. I did the for-loop, since I thought that maybe the malloc call has too much overhead. I guess you could also cast the double to a uint32_t * pointing to two 32 bit words. Anyway, take care when doing such drastic casts. Some platforms might want alignment for some datatypes!

Categories
coding debugging OS X valgrind

Valgrind checking of iOS programs

Well, this is awesome news. First, valgrind has been available for OS X for some time now. And second, you can use it to check your iOS programs on the simulator with it.

The idea here is to let your program spawn valgrind itself. Because you cannot tell the simulator to run the program through valgrind. Well, maybe you could build a funky bundle, but I think this works just fine. So here is the  code, taken from the above link:

#define VALGRIND "/usr/local/valgrind/bin/valgrind"

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
#ifdef VALGRIND_REXEC
/* Using the valgrind build config, rexec ourself
* in valgrind */
if (argc < 2 || (argc >= 2 && strcmp(argv[1], "-valgrind") != 0)) {
execl(VALGRIND, VALGRIND, "--leak-check=full", "--dsymutil=yes", argv[0], "-valgrind",
NULL);
}
#endif

NSAutoreleasePool * pool = [[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];
int retVal = UIApplicationMain(argc, argv, nil, @"PeepsAppDelegate");
[pool release];
return retVal;
}

You will obviously want to define the VALGRIND_REXEC macro, if you need valgrind output. You can also pass different command line arguments to valgrind. E.g. you can switch to different valgrind tools this way, or pipe everything to a log-file.
Update: I finally got around to trying out this method. One problem here is that valgrind will fail to run, since it tries to open /dev/random, which I guess is not allowed for sandboxed applications. But one can fix this by patching and recompiling valgrind, which is not too hard. Especially when using MacPorts. Furthermore, I needed to add –dsymutil=yes to the valgrind options, or else the program would just crash.