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A tour of the `for..of` implementation for 32bits JSC


On April 18, 2020, Keith Miller from Apple committed a change titled Redesign how we do for-of iteration for JSArrays. This patch adds an intrinsic for the for-of javascript construct when they are being iterated with the built-in Symbol.iterator. However, the implementation is only for 64 bit architectures. At Igalia, we maintain and support javascriptCore 32bits so on July 29, 2020, I committed support for the for-of intrinsics work on 32 bit architectures as joint work with Caio Lima.

In this blog post, I will attempt to give an overview of the implemented changes in revision r265036 of WebKit which extends support of the for-of intrinsics work to 32 bits. For the purposes of brevity I will focus on the iterator open intrinsic.


JSC consists of several tiers (compilation layers). These tiers start with LLInt (the Low-Level Interpreter), followed by the Baseline JIT, DFG (Data Flow Graph JIT), and FTL (Faster-Than-Light JIT). We will not discuss FTL here since we do not run the FTL tier for 32 bits.

The patch for r265036 touches architecture specific files, like MacroAssemblerARMv7.h and MacroAssemblerMIPS.h, however these changes are less relevant as we just add a couple of functions for emitting octet load/store instructions (store8, or8, etc). Instead, we will focus on changes to the tiers starting with the changes to LLInt.

javascript and for-of

I guess as Compiler Engineers we should try to understand what we have to implement first. Lets try to use an iterator implicitly through a for-of loop.

const a = ["a", "b", "c"];
for (const value of a) {
// =>
// "a"
// "b"
// "c"

The for-of statement gets an iterator from the array behind the scenes and loops through its values assigning them one by one to the variable value.

If we were to look at using the iterator explicitly, the above loop would be transformed to:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"];
const it = a[Symbol.iterator]();
let result =;
while (!result.done) {
result =;

So the symbol Symbol.iterator returns a method that when called returns an iterator. This iterator has a next function to get a result object. The result object has a done property indicating if we are done iterating and a value which is the current value in the iteration. There's something to keep in mind though. The done property is optional if its value would be false and the value property is optional if its value would be undefined.

Armed with this knowledge, revision 260323 which implements for-of intrinsics for 64 bits, makes a lot more sense. It implements two intrinsics op_iterator_open and op_iterator_next. The commit message explains the semantics of each operator as follows:

iterator = symbolIterator.@call(iterable);
next =;

where iterable is the rhs of the for-of and symbolIterator is the result of running iterable.symbolIterator;

nextResult = next.@call(iterator);
done = nextResult.done;
value = done ? (undefined / bottom) : nextResult.value;

where nextResult is a temporary (the value VirtualRegister in the LLInt/Baseline and a tmp in the DFG);

We can now proceed to understand how to implement these on 32bits.


LLInt is a bytecode interpreter implemented using a DSL (Domain Specific Language). The compiler for it is implemented in Ruby. The offlineasm compiler reads this DSL and outputs a bytecode interpreter in native assembler, for a few supported architectures, or cpp. The cpp backend is known as Cloop and if you enable it, to for example compile JSC for an IBM System Z9, the JSC build system generates the cpp interpreter, compiles it and then links it with JSC. If you do enable Cloop, then none of the remaining JIT tiers are available. This is as much as we will discuss about Cloop as both ARMv7 and MIPS have LLInt support, so from here on out we will assume we are working with the native assembly backend for offlineasm.

The source code for LLInt (input to offlineasm) lives in WebKit/Source/javascriptCore. The entry point is at LowLevelInterpreter.asm and it starts with a bunch of constant definitions followed by something you'll see often: a macro.

At the time of writing, the first one is nextInstruction:

macro nextInstruction()
loadb [PB, PC, 1], t0
leap _g_opcodeMap, t1
jmp [t1, t0, PtrSize], BytecodePtrTag

Each time you call elsewhere nextInstruction (which actually starts processing the next bytecode), the call will be replaced by the three (low-level) instructions in the body of the macro. These instructions loadb, leap and jmp are defined on per-architecture in arm.rb, arm64.rb, arm64e.rb, mips.rb, and x86.rb. Listing of all available instructions are in instructions.rb.

So for 32bits arm:

The compilation of this DSL to assembler is done during JSC build-time which means that by the time the interpreter is called there's no execution of ruby code.

Lets start by implementing the bytecode op_iterator_open, which before looked like this in LowLevelInterpreter32_64.asm:

llintOp(op_iterator_open, OpIteratorOpen, macro (size, get, dispatch)
    defineOSRExitReturnLabel(op_iterator_open, size)
    if C_LOOP or C_LOOP_WIN
        # Insert superflous call return labels for Cloop.
        cloopCallJSFunction a0 # symbolIterator
        cloopCallJSFunction a0 # get next

Before proceeding a clarification of what this is. This is essentially a top-level call to the macro llintOp with three arguments:

  1. op_iterator_open,
  2. OpIteratorOpen, and
  3. macro(size, get, dispatch) ... end

Argument 3 is an anonymous macro passed as a first-class citizen to llintOp which can then call it. The macro llintOp is defined in LowLevelInterpreter.asm and the declaration looks like:

macro llintOp(opcodeName, opcodeStruct, fn)

The anonymous macro defined in the op_iterator_open is passed to the llintOp macro and can be called as fn(...). Most of the code organization in LLInt is like this and you should get used to reading it.

As we require access to the metadata for the implementation of op_iterator_open we change the declaration slightly and add a few commonly defined macros:

llintOpWithMetadata(op_iterator_open, OpIteratorOpen, macro (size, get, dispatch, metadata, return)
    macro fastNarrow()
    macro fastWide16()
    macro fastWide32()
    size(fastNarrow, fastWide16, fastWide32, macro (callOp) callOp() end)
    bbeq r1, constexpr IterationMode::Generic, .iteratorOpenGeneric

There are two execution paths that can be taken at this point:

  1. Fast path: this path is currently implemented in cpp and the code resides in CommonSlowPaths.cpp:iterator_open_try_fast. If it succeeds then the branch bbeq is not taken and the control flow dispatches to execute the next bytecode instruction.
  2. Slow path: the generic path is taken if the fast path fails. If it fails, then it sets r1 with the value constexpr IterationMode::Generic. In the 32bits ABI r1 is the tag of the return value.

All the code that follows is part of the slow path and the next step is:

    macro gotoGetByIdCheckpoint()
        jmp .getByIdStart

    macro getCallee(dst)
        get(m_symbolIterator, dst)

    macro getArgumentIncludingThisStart(dst)
        getu(size, OpIteratorOpen, m_stackOffset, dst)

    macro getArgumentIncludingThisCount(dst)
        move 1, dst

    callHelper(op_iterator_open,                    # opcodeName
               _llint_slow_path_iterator_open_call, # slowPath
               OpIteratorOpen,                      # opcodeStruct
               m_iteratorProfile,                   # valueProfileName
               m_iterator,                          # dstVirtualRegister
               prepareForRegularCall,               # prepareCall
               size,                                # size
               gotoGetByIdCheckpoint,               # dispatch
               metadata,                            # metadata
               getCallee,                           # getCallee
               getArgumentIncludingThisStart,       # getArgumentStart
               getArgumentIncludingThisCount)       # getArgumentCountIncludingThis

Here we define a few helper macros required by callHelper. I have commented on the callHelper call with all the argument names to ease understanding what the function does. This is a helper function to simplify the call to the method stored in the Symbol.Iterator property.

The implementation of the op_iterator_open in LLInt ends up with:

	macro storeNextAndDispatch(valueTag, valuePayload)
        move valueTag, t2
        move valuePayload, t3
        get(m_next, t1)
        storei t2, TagOffset[cfr, t1, 8]
        storei t3, PayloadOffset[cfr, t1, 8]

    # We need to load m_iterator into t3 because that's where
 	# performGetByIDHelper expects the base object   
 	loadVariable(get, m_iterator, t3, t0, t3)
 	bineq t0, CellTag, .iteratorOpenGenericGetNextSlow
 	performGetByIDHelper(OpIteratorOpen,                  # opcodeStruct
                         m_modeMetadata,                  # modeMetadataName
                         m_nextProfile,                   # valueProfileName
                         .iteratorOpenGenericGetNextSlow, # slowLabel
                         size,                            # size
                         metadata,                        # metadata
                         storeNextAndDispatch)            # return


The callHelper above placed an iterator in register t3, so we check what type of tag the iterator has. If the iterator is not a cell (tagged with CellTag - a cell is essentially anything that's heap allocated) then we jump to the slow path. If, however, the iterator is an object we call storeNextAndDispatch through performGetByIDHelper which does a few useful checks. storeNextAndDispatch initializes the iterator and dispatches to the next bytecode.

The op_iterator_next will follow the same pattern but instead implement the semantics of Next we will see how a similar pattern is implemented in the Baseline JIT compiler.


The Baseline JIT source code lives inside Source/javascriptCore/jit. The part of the JIT compiler the deals with 32 bit platforms, mostly lives in Source/javascriptCore/jit/JITCall32_64.cpp. It is responsible to generate assembly code for a given bytecode stream as input. This explains the resemblances we have between LLInt operations, since we need to emit code that has the same semantics as the LLInt operation. This compiler applies barely any compiler optimizations, since the goal is to generate binary code as quickly as it can and its major gain on performance is due to the removal of LLInt instruction dispatch. The Baseline compiler is a heavy user of JSC’s AssemblerHelpers. This is an essential API that’s used to abstract the code generation for the multiple architectures JSC supports and also abstracts some operations that are quite common on LLInt like branchIfNotCell or branchIfNotEmpty. It also implements a set of operations that are very helpful when we need to implement JIT support for a new opcode, such as emitGetVirtualRegister, emitPutVirtualRegister, and callOperation.

Lets look at how we implement the functions emit_op_iterator_open, emitSlow_op_iterator_open and the corresponding next versions of those.

void JIT::emit_op_iterator_open(const Instruction* instruction)
auto bytecode = instruction->as<OpIteratorOpen>();
auto* tryFastFunction = ([&] () {
switch (instruction->width()) {
case Narrow: return iterator_open_try_fast_narrow;
case Wide16: return iterator_open_try_fast_wide16;
case Wide32: return iterator_open_try_fast_wide32;

JITSlowPathCall slowPathCall(this, instruction, tryFastFunction);;
Jump fastCase = branch32(NotEqual, GPRInfo::returnValueGPR2, TrustedImm32(static_cast<uint32_t>(IterationMode::Generic)));

It is not hard to see some resemblance between this code and the one shown for LLInt's op_iterator_open. Once again we see if we can apply the fast case of this iterator and if not, we call the slow path.

    compileOpCall<OpIteratorOpen>(instruction, m_callLinkInfoIndex++);


// call result (iterator) is in regT1 (tag)/regT0 (payload)
const Identifier* ident = &vm().propertyNames->next;


The result of the call to the Symbol.iterator method is again split, in 32bits machines, between a tag (in regT1) and a payload (in regT0). We jump to the slow case if the result is not a cell.

    GPRReg tagIteratorGPR = regT1;
GPRReg payloadIteratorGPR = regT0;

GPRReg tagNextGPR = tagIteratorGPR;
GPRReg payloadNextGPR = payloadIteratorGPR;

JITGetByIdGenerator gen(
JSValueRegs(tagIteratorGPR, payloadIteratorGPR),
JSValueRegs(tagNextGPR, payloadNextGPR),

At this point we generate the access to the next property of the iterator and ensure it is initialized.


emitPutVirtualRegister(bytecode.m_next, JSValueRegs(tagNextGPR, payloadNextGPR));;

The function finishes with some boilerplate code for linking and site profiling. However, most importantly it ensures that the values for the next bytecode are put into the correct registers in order for execution to continue. This function also shows a usage of another important kind of helper: branch instructions. Lets refocus just on the important pieces of emit_op_iterator_open the branch helper usage.

void JIT::emit_op_iterator_open(const Instruction* instruction)
    // ...
    JITSlowPathCall slowPathCall(this, instruction, tryFastFunction);;
    Jump fastCase = branch32(NotEqual, GPRInfo::returnValueGPR2, TrustedImm32(static_cast<uint32_t>(IterationMode::Generic)));
    // ...;

The code above will generate assembly code that branches to the end of emit_op_iterator_open if returnValueGPR2 is not equal to IterationMode::Generic. The branch jumps to where we are linking fastCase.

Another kind of very useful helpers are JITSlowPathCall slowPathCall(this, instruction, tryFastFunction), callOperation and variants of these. That is because they abstract the ABI of each architecture to perform calls to cpp functions. On JSC we have a set of cpp functions that we call JITOperations and are used by JIT when something is very complex to be done from assembly directly. For example, emit_op_iterator_open uses these to call on iterator_open_try_fast_narrow, iterator_open_try_fast_wide16, or iterator_open_try_fast_wide32. Also emitSlow_op_iterator_open calls on callOperation(operationThrowIteratorResultIsNotObject, TrustedImmPtr(m_codeBlock->globalObject()));.

When discussing emit_op_iterator_open in baseline JIT, we saw above the usage of JITGetByIdGenerator to generate assembly code to access the property next from the iterator object. This class is a very useful as it encapsulates the Inline Cache (IC) mechanism for property access on JSC. It takes registers for base object where the Get operation is going to be performed (tagIteratorGPR and payloadIteratorGPR) in addition to where the result of such access will be placed (tagNextGPR and payloadNextGPR). The code for fast path is generated by gen.generateFastPath(*this); and since IC is only filled after its execution, the generation of fast path is a set of “noop” that eventually will be repatched by fast code that accesses cached properties. We also configure slowPathJump for this generator and this is important because when IC is empty, we always take the slow path to perform the Get operation and configure the cache for it.

The following code shows the iterator_open slow path and where the JITGetByIdGenerator is linked into when jumping to it.

void JIT::emitSlow_op_iterator_open(const Instruction* instruction, Vector<SlowCaseEntry>::iterator& iter)
    // …

    GPRReg tagIteratorGPR = regT1;
    GPRReg payloadIteratorGPR = regT0;

    JumpList notObject;

    auto bytecode = instruction->as<OpIteratorOpen>();
    VirtualRegister nextVReg = bytecode.m_next;
    UniquedStringImpl* ident = vm().propertyNames->next.impl();

    JITGetByIdGenerator& gen = m_getByIds[m_getByIdIndex++];
    Label coldPathBegin = label();

    Call call = callOperationWithProfile(
        bytecode.metadata(m_codeBlock),                  // metadata
        operationGetByIdOptimize,                        // operation
        nextVReg,                                        // result
        TrustedImmPtr(m_codeBlock->globalObject()),      // arg1
        gen.stubInfo(),                                  // arg2
        JSValueRegs(tagIteratorGPR, payloadIteratorGPR), // arg3
        CacheableIdentifier::createFromImmortalIdentifier(ident).rawBits()); // arg4
    gen.reportSlowPathCall(coldPathBegin, call);
    auto done = jump();;
    callOperation(operationThrowIteratorResultIsNotObject, TrustedImmPtr(m_codeBlock->globalObject()));;

During the execution the code above, we first perform a type check to guarantee that the iterator is an object - otherwise we need to throw a “Result is not object” exception. Assuming then that iterator is indeed an object, we perform a call to the JIT operation operationGetByIdOptimize. This operation is responsible to check if the Get we are performing is cacheable and then buffer those cases to repatch the fast path once we have enough evidence that this is a hot operation.

The code for those generators lives on JITInlineCacheGenerator.h and JITInlineCacheGenerator.cpp. It includes generators for op_in, op_put_by_id and even for op_get_by_val. These generators are also used by DFG and FTL code, mainly when there’s not enough type information for some opcodes during compile time.

Lets look at emit_op_iterator_next in order to understand emitGetVirtualRegister.

void JIT::emit_op_iterator_next(const Instruction* instruction)
    JSValueRegs nextRegs(regT1, regT0);
    emitGetVirtualRegister(bytecode.m_next, nextRegs);

This operation loads the next operand into regT1 and regT0. The call to emitGetVirtualRegister generates assembly code that loads a JSValue stored in a VirtualRegister into the machine register(s) we pass as a parameter. For both LLInt and Baseline JIT, virtual registers are always assigned to stack slots, which means that emitGetVirtualRegister will generate code that is going to load values from stack into machine registers.

It is important to notice that regT1 and regT0 are aliases for registers of the architecture we are targetting. We also see the usage of JSValueRegs, which is an abstraction created to reuse code among 64-bits and 32-bits code. It abstracts the fact that JSValues are 64-bits long, which means that we need 2 registers (tag and payload) to manage a JSValue on 32-bits code. Following helpers used by emit_op_iterator_open, we have emitPutVirtualRegister that is very similar with emitGetVirtualRegister but it stores a JSValue into a virtual register. A usage of this helper's counterpart emitPutVirtualRegister can be seen in the code for emit_op_iterator_open, which stores a JSValue into a virtual register.


The important bits were the implementation of the intrinsics for LLInt and Baseline JIT. A few other code bits went into the patch but they are just ensuring everything works as expected instead of being large changes to the codebase.

Although the implementation of the intrinsic is essentially the implementation of the same semantics, they require quite different knowledge since they operate at different levels of abstraction. On the one hand, LLInt is written in a DSL that compiles down to assembler and essentially implements a language interpreter. On the other, the Baseline JIT is written in cpp an implements a JIT Compiler. The API between both is completely different which requires the developer to know both in order to implement a single feature. The implementation of this feature for 64bits required further changes to other tiers of JSC, which we didn't need to touch for 32bits. In 32bits we do not have FTL enabled and DFG is essentially platform agnostic.


My colleague Caio Lima has reviewed this post and spent a significant amount of time adding technical details where I initially had few. Any inaccuracies or lack of detail however, are still my own fault.