This section deals with common errors you might run into while writing GPU code, preventing the code to compile.

InvalidIRError: compiling ... resulted in invalid LLVM IR

Not all of Julia is supported by CUDA.jl. Several commonly-used features, like strings or exceptions, will not compile to GPU code, because of their interactions with the CPU-only runtime library.

For example, say we define and try to execute the following kernel:

julia> function kernel(a)
         @inbounds a[threadId().x] = 0

julia> @cuda kernel(CuArray([1]))
ERROR: InvalidIRError: compiling kernel kernel(CuDeviceArray{Int64,1,1}) resulted in invalid LLVM IR
Reason: unsupported dynamic function invocation (call to setindex!)
 [1] kernel at REPL[2]:2
Reason: unsupported dynamic function invocation (call to getproperty)
 [1] kernel at REPL[2]:2
Reason: unsupported use of an undefined name (use of 'threadId')
 [1] kernel at REPL[2]:2

CUDA.jl does its best to decode the unsupported IR and figure out where it came from. In this case, there's two so-called dynamic invocations, which happen when a function call cannot be statically resolved (often because the compiler could not fully infer the call, e.g., due to inaccurate or instable type information). These are a red herring, and the real cause is listed last: a typo in the use of the threadIdx function! If we fix this, the IR error disappears and our kernel successfully compiles and executes.

KernelError: kernel returns a value of type Union{}

Where the previous section clearly pointed to the source of invalid IR, in other cases your function will return an error. This is encoded by the Julia compiler as a return value of type Union{}:

julia> function kernel(a)
         @inbounds a[threadId().x] = CUDA.sin(a[threadIdx().x])

julia> @cuda kernel(CuArray([1]))
ERROR: GPU compilation of kernel kernel(CuDeviceArray{Int64,1,1}) failed
KernelError: kernel returns a value of type `Union{}`

Now we don't know where this error came from, and we will have to take a look ourselves at the generated code. This is easily done using the @device_code introspection macros, which mimic their Base counterparts (e.g. @device_code_llvm instead of @code_llvm, etc).

To debug an error returned by a kernel, we should use @device_code_warntype to inspect the Julia IR. Furthermore, this macro has an interactive mode, which further facilitates inspecting this IR using Cthulhu.jl. First, install and import this package, and then try to execute the kernel again prefixed by @device_code_warntype interactive=true:

julia> using Cthulhu

julia> @device_code_warntype interactive=true @cuda kernel(CuArray([1]))
  #self#::Core.Compiler.Const(kernel, false)

1 ─ %1  = CUDA.sin::Core.Compiler.Const(CUDA.sin, false)
│   ...
│   %14 = (...)::Int64
└──       goto #2
2 ─       (%1)(%14)
└──       $(Expr(:unreachable))

Select a call to descend into or ↩ to ascend.
 • %17  = call CUDA.sin(::Int64)::Union{}

Both from the IR and the list of calls Cthulhu offers to inspect further, we can see that the call to CUDA.sin(::Int64) results in an error: in the IR it is immediately followed by an unreachable, while in the list of calls it is inferred to return Union{}. Now we know where to look, it's easy to figure out what's wrong:

help?> CUDA.sin
  # 2 methods for generic function "sin":
  [1] sin(x::Float32) in CUDA at /home/tim/Julia/pkg/CUDA/src/device/intrinsics/math.jl:13
  [2] sin(x::Float64) in CUDA at /home/tim/Julia/pkg/CUDA/src/device/intrinsics/math.jl:12

There's no method of CUDA.sin that accepts an Int64, and thus the function was determined to unconditionally throw a method error. For now, we disallow these situations and refuse to compile, but in the spirit of dynamic languages we might change this behavior to just throw an error at run time.