Node: Optimize Options, Next: , Previous: Debugging Options, Up: Invoking GCC

Options That Control Optimization

These options control various sorts of optimizations:

Optimize. Optimizing compilation takes somewhat more time, and a lot more memory for a large function.

Without -O, the compiler's goal is to reduce the cost of compilation and to make debugging produce the expected results. Statements are independent: if you stop the program with a breakpoint between statements, you can then assign a new value to any variable or change the program counter to any other statement in the function and get exactly the results you would expect from the source code.

With -O, the compiler tries to reduce code size and execution time, without performing any optimizations that take a great deal of compilation time.

Optimize even more. GCC performs nearly all supported optimizations that do not involve a space-speed tradeoff. The compiler does not perform loop unrolling or function inlining when you specify -O2. As compared to -O, this option increases both compilation time and the performance of the generated code.

-O2 turns on all optional optimizations except for loop unrolling, function inlining, and register renaming. It also turns on the -fforce-mem option on all machines and frame pointer elimination on machines where doing so does not interfere with debugging.

Please note the warning under -fgcse about invoking -O2 on programs that use computed gotos.

Optimize yet more. -O3 turns on all optimizations specified by -O2 and also turns on the -finline-functions and -frename-registers options.
Do not optimize.
Optimize for size. -Os enables all -O2 optimizations that do not typically increase code size. It also performs further optimizations designed to reduce code size.

If you use multiple -O options, with or without level numbers, the last such option is the one that is effective.

Options of the form -fflag specify machine-independent flags. Most flags have both positive and negative forms; the negative form of -ffoo would be -fno-foo. In the table below, only one of the forms is listed--the one which is not the default. You can figure out the other form by either removing no- or adding it.

Do not store floating point variables in registers, and inhibit other options that might change whether a floating point value is taken from a register or memory.

This option prevents undesirable excess precision on machines such as the 68000 where the floating registers (of the 68881) keep more precision than a double is supposed to have. Similarly for the x86 architecture. For most programs, the excess precision does only good, but a few programs rely on the precise definition of IEEE floating point. Use -ffloat-store for such programs, after modifying them to store all pertinent intermediate computations into variables.

Do not make member functions inline by default merely because they are defined inside the class scope (C++ only). Otherwise, when you specify -O, member functions defined inside class scope are compiled inline by default; i.e., you don't need to add inline in front of the member function name.
Always pop the arguments to each function call as soon as that function returns. For machines which must pop arguments after a function call, the compiler normally lets arguments accumulate on the stack for several function calls and pops them all at once.
Force memory operands to be copied into registers before doing arithmetic on them. This produces better code by making all memory references potential common subexpressions. When they are not common subexpressions, instruction combination should eliminate the separate register-load. The -O2 option turns on this option.
Force memory address constants to be copied into registers before doing arithmetic on them. This may produce better code just as -fforce-mem may.
Don't keep the frame pointer in a register for functions that don't need one. This avoids the instructions to save, set up and restore frame pointers; it also makes an extra register available in many functions. It also makes debugging impossible on some machines.

On some machines, such as the VAX, this flag has no effect, because the standard calling sequence automatically handles the frame pointer and nothing is saved by pretending it doesn't exist. The machine-description macro FRAME_POINTER_REQUIRED controls whether a target machine supports this flag. See Register Usage.

Optimize sibling and tail recursive calls.
This option generates traps for signed overflow on addition, subtraction, multiplication operations.
Don't pay attention to the inline keyword. Normally this option is used to keep the compiler from expanding any functions inline. Note that if you are not optimizing, no functions can be expanded inline.
Integrate all simple functions into their callers. The compiler heuristically decides which functions are simple enough to be worth integrating in this way.

If all calls to a given function are integrated, and the function is declared static, then the function is normally not output as assembler code in its own right.

By default, gcc limits the size of functions that can be inlined. This flag allows the control of this limit for functions that are explicitly marked as inline (ie marked with the inline keyword or defined within the class definition in c++). n is the size of functions that can be inlined in number of pseudo instructions (not counting parameter handling). The default value of n is 600. Increasing this value can result in more inlined code at the cost of compilation time and memory consumption. Decreasing usually makes the compilation faster and less code will be inlined (which presumably means slower programs). This option is particularly useful for programs that use inlining heavily such as those based on recursive templates with C++.

Note: pseudo instruction represents, in this particular context, an abstract measurement of function's size. In no way, it represents a count of assembly instructions and as such its exact meaning might change from one release to an another.

Even if all calls to a given function are integrated, and the function is declared static, nevertheless output a separate run-time callable version of the function. This switch does not affect extern inline functions.
Emit variables declared static const when optimization isn't turned on, even if the variables aren't referenced.

GCC enables this option by default. If you want to force the compiler to check if the variable was referenced, regardless of whether or not optimization is turned on, use the -fno-keep-static-consts option.

Attempt to merge identical constants (string constants and floating point constants) accross compilation units.

This option is default for optimized compilation if assembler and linker support it. Use -fno-merge-constants to inhibit this behavior.

Attempt to merge identical constants and identical variables.

This option implies -fmerge-constants. In addition to -fmerge-constants this considers e.g. even constant initialized arrays or initialized constant variables with integral or floating point types. Languages like C or C++ require each non-automatic variable to have distinct location, so using this option will result in non-conforming behavior.

Do not use "decrement and branch" instructions on a count register, but instead generate a sequence of instructions that decrement a register, compare it against zero, then branch based upon the result. This option is only meaningful on architectures that support such instructions, which include x86, PowerPC, IA-64 and S/390.
Do not put function addresses in registers; make each instruction that calls a constant function contain the function's address explicitly.

This option results in less efficient code, but some strange hacks that alter the assembler output may be confused by the optimizations performed when this option is not used.

Sets -fno-math-errno, -funsafe-math-optimizations, and

This option causes the preprocessor macro __FAST_MATH__ to be defined.

This option should never be turned on by any -O option since it can result in incorrect output for programs which depend on an exact implementation of IEEE or ISO rules/specifications for math functions.

Do not set ERRNO after calling math functions that are executed with a single instruction, e.g., sqrt. A program that relies on IEEE exceptions for math error handling may want to use this flag for speed while maintaining IEEE arithmetic compatibility.

This option should never be turned on by any -O option since it can result in incorrect output for programs which depend on an exact implementation of IEEE or ISO rules/specifications for math functions.

The default is -fmath-errno.

Allow optimizations for floating-point arithmetic that (a) assume that arguments and results are valid and (b) may violate IEEE or ANSI standards. When used at link-time, it may include libraries or startup files that change the default FPU control word or other similar optimizations.

This option should never be turned on by any -O option since it can result in incorrect output for programs which depend on an exact implementation of IEEE or ISO rules/specifications for math functions.

The default is -fno-unsafe-math-optimizations.

Compile code assuming that floating-point operations cannot generate user-visible traps. Setting this option may allow faster code if one relies on "non-stop" IEEE arithmetic, for example.

This option should never be turned on by any -O option since it can result in incorrect output for programs which depend on an exact implementation of IEEE or ISO rules/specifications for math functions.

The default is -ftrapping-math.

For front-ends that support it, generate additional code to check that indices used to access arrays are within the declared range. This is currenly only supported by the Java and Fortran 77 front-ends, where this option defaults to true and false respectively.

The following options control specific optimizations. The -O2 option turns on all of these optimizations except -funroll-loops and -funroll-all-loops. On most machines, the -O option turns on the -fthread-jumps and -fdelayed-branch options, but specific machines may handle it differently.

You can use the following flags in the rare cases when "fine-tuning" of optimizations to be performed is desired.

Not all of the optimizations performed by GCC have -f options to control them.

Perform the optimizations of loop strength reduction and elimination of iteration variables.
Perform optimizations where we check to see if a jump branches to a location where another comparison subsumed by the first is found. If so, the first branch is redirected to either the destination of the second branch or a point immediately following it, depending on whether the condition is known to be true or false.
In common subexpression elimination, scan through jump instructions when the target of the jump is not reached by any other path. For example, when CSE encounters an if statement with an else clause, CSE will follow the jump when the condition tested is false.
This is similar to -fcse-follow-jumps, but causes CSE to follow jumps which conditionally skip over blocks. When CSE encounters a simple if statement with no else clause, -fcse-skip-blocks causes CSE to follow the jump around the body of the if.
Re-run common subexpression elimination after loop optimizations has been performed.
Run the loop optimizer twice.
Perform a global common subexpression elimination pass. This pass also performs global constant and copy propagation.

Note: When compiling a program using computed gotos, a GCC extension, you may get better runtime performance if you disable the global common subexpression elmination pass by adding -fno-gcse to the command line.

When -fgcse-lm is enabled, global common subexpression elimination will attempt to move loads which are only killed by stores into themselves. This allows a loop containing a load/store sequence to be changed to a load outside the loop, and a copy/store within the loop.
When -fgcse-sm is enabled, A store motion pass is run after global common subexpression elimination. This pass will attempt to move stores out of loops. When used in conjunction with -fgcse-lm, loops containing a load/store sequence can be changed to a load before the loop and a store after the loop.
Use global dataflow analysis to identify and eliminate useless checks for null pointers. The compiler assumes that dereferencing a null pointer would have halted the program. If a pointer is checked after it has already been dereferenced, it cannot be null.

In some environments, this assumption is not true, and programs can safely dereference null pointers. Use -fno-delete-null-pointer-checks to disable this optimization for programs which depend on that behavior.

Perform a number of minor optimizations that are relatively expensive.
Attempt to reassign register numbers in move instructions and as operands of other simple instructions in order to maximize the amount of register tying. This is especially helpful on machines with two-operand instructions. GCC enables this optimization by default with -O2 or higher.

Note -fregmove and -foptimize-register-move are the same optimization.

If supported for the target machine, attempt to reorder instructions to exploit instruction slots available after delayed branch instructions.
If supported for the target machine, attempt to reorder instructions to eliminate execution stalls due to required data being unavailable. This helps machines that have slow floating point or memory load instructions by allowing other instructions to be issued until the result of the load or floating point instruction is required.
Similar to -fschedule-insns, but requests an additional pass of instruction scheduling after register allocation has been done. This is especially useful on machines with a relatively small number of registers and where memory load instructions take more than one cycle.
Don't schedule instructions across basic blocks. This is normally enabled by default when scheduling before register allocation, i.e. with -fschedule-insns or at -O2 or higher.
Don't allow speculative motion of non-load instructions. This is normally enabled by default when scheduling before register allocation, i.e. with -fschedule-insns or at -O2 or higher.
Allow speculative motion of some load instructions. This only makes sense when scheduling before register allocation, i.e. with -fschedule-insns or at -O2 or higher.
Allow speculative motion of more load instructions. This only makes sense when scheduling before register allocation, i.e. with -fschedule-insns or at -O2 or higher.
Place each function or data item into its own section in the output file if the target supports arbitrary sections. The name of the function or the name of the data item determines the section's name in the output file.

Use these options on systems where the linker can perform optimizations to improve locality of reference in the instruction space. HPPA processors running HP-UX and Sparc processors running Solaris 2 have linkers with such optimizations. Other systems using the ELF object format as well as AIX may have these optimizations in the future.

Only use these options when there are significant benefits from doing so. When you specify these options, the assembler and linker will create larger object and executable files and will also be slower. You will not be able to use gprof on all systems if you specify this option and you may have problems with debugging if you specify both this option and -g.

Enable values to be allocated in registers that will be clobbered by function calls, by emitting extra instructions to save and restore the registers around such calls. Such allocation is done only when it seems to result in better code than would otherwise be produced.

This option is always enabled by default on certain machines, usually those which have no call-preserved registers to use instead.

For all machines, optimization level 2 and higher enables this flag by default.

Unroll loops whose number of iterations can be determined at compile time or upon entry to the loop. -funroll-loops implies both -fstrength-reduce and -frerun-cse-after-loop. This option makes code larger, and may or may not make it run faster.
Unroll all loops, even if their number of iterations is uncertain when the loop is entered. This usually makes programs run more slowly. -funroll-all-loops implies the same options as -funroll-loops,
If supported by the target machine, generate instructions to prefetch memory to improve the performance of loops that access large arrays.
Forces all invariant computations in loops to be moved outside the loop.
Forces all general-induction variables in loops to be strength-reduced.

Note: When compiling programs written in Fortran, -fmove-all-movables and -freduce-all-givs are enabled by default when you use the optimizer.

These options may generate better or worse code; results are highly dependent on the structure of loops within the source code.

These two options are intended to be removed someday, once they have helped determine the efficacy of various approaches to improving loop optimizations.

Please let us ([email protected] and [email protected]) know how use of these options affects the performance of your production code. We're very interested in code that runs slower when these options are enabled.

Disable any machine-specific peephole optimizations. The difference between -fno-peephole and -fno-peephole2 is in how they are implemented in the compiler; some targets use one, some use the other, a few use both.
After running a program compiled with -fprofile-arcs (see Options for Debugging Your Program or gcc), you can compile it a second time using -fbranch-probabilities, to improve optimizations based on the number of times each branch was taken. When the program compiled with -fprofile-arcs exits it saves arc execution counts to a file called sourcename.da for each source file The information in this data file is very dependent on the structure of the generated code, so you must use the same source code and the same optimization options for both compilations.

With -fbranch-probabilities, GCC puts a REG_EXEC_COUNT note on the first instruction of each basic block, and a REG_BR_PROB note on each JUMP_INSN and CALL_INSN. These can be used to improve optimization. Currently, they are only used in one place: in reorg.c, instead of guessing which path a branch is mostly to take, the REG_BR_PROB values are used to exactly determine which path is taken more often.

Do not guess branch probabilities using a randomized model.

Sometimes gcc will opt to use a randomized model to guess branch probabilities, when none are available from either profiling feedback (-fprofile-arcs) or __builtin_expect. This means that different runs of the compiler on the same program may produce different object code.

In a hard real-time system, people don't want different runs of the compiler to produce code that has different behavior; minimizing non-determinism is of paramount import. This switch allows users to reduce non-determinism, possibly at the expense of inferior optimization.

Allows the compiler to assume the strictest aliasing rules applicable to the language being compiled. For C (and C++), this activates optimizations based on the type of expressions. In particular, an object of one type is assumed never to reside at the same address as an object of a different type, unless the types are almost the same. For example, an unsigned int can alias an int, but not a void* or a double. A character type may alias any other type.

Pay special attention to code like this:

          union a_union {
            int i;
            double d;
          int f() {
            a_union t;
            t.d = 3.0;
            return t.i;
The practice of reading from a different union member than the one most recently written to (called "type-punning") is common. Even with -fstrict-aliasing, type-punning is allowed, provided the memory is accessed through the union type. So, the code above will work as expected. However, this code might not:
          int f() {
            a_union t;
            int* ip;
            t.d = 3.0;
            ip = &t.i;
            return *ip;

Every language that wishes to perform language-specific alias analysis should define a function that computes, given an tree node, an alias set for the node. Nodes in different alias sets are not allowed to alias. For an example, see the C front-end function c_get_alias_set.

Align the start of functions to the next power-of-two greater than n, skipping up to n bytes. For instance, -falign-functions=32 aligns functions to the next 32-byte boundary, but -falign-functions=24 would align to the next 32-byte boundary only if this can be done by skipping 23 bytes or less.

-fno-align-functions and -falign-functions=1 are equivalent and mean that functions will not be aligned.

Some assemblers only support this flag when n is a power of two; in that case, it is rounded up.

If n is not specified, use a machine-dependent default.

Align all branch targets to a power-of-two boundary, skipping up to n bytes like -falign-functions. This option can easily make code slower, because it must insert dummy operations for when the branch target is reached in the usual flow of the code.

If -falign-loops or -falign-jumps are applicable and are greater than this value, then their values are used instead.

If n is not specified, use a machine-dependent default which is very likely to be 1, meaning no alignment.

Align loops to a power-of-two boundary, skipping up to n bytes like -falign-functions. The hope is that the loop will be executed many times, which will make up for any execution of the dummy operations.

If n is not specified, use a machine-dependent default.

Align branch targets to a power-of-two boundary, for branch targets where the targets can only be reached by jumping, skipping up to n bytes like -falign-functions. In this case, no dummy operations need be executed.

If n is not specified, use a machine-dependent default.

Perform optimizations in static single assignment form. Each function's flow graph is translated into SSA form, optimizations are performed, and the flow graph is translated back from SSA form. Users should not specify this option, since it is not yet ready for production use.
Perform Sparse Conditional Constant Propagation in SSA form. Requires -fssa. Like -fssa, this is an experimental feature.
Perform aggressive dead-code elimination in SSA form. Requires -fssa. Like -fssa, this is an experimental feature.
Treat floating point constant as single precision constant instead of implicitly converting it to double precision constant.
Attempt to avoid false dependencies in scheduled code by making use of registers left over after register allocation. This optimization will most benefit processors with lots of registers. It can, however, make debugging impossible, since variables will no longer stay in a "home register".
After register allocation and post-register allocation instruction splitting, we perform a copy-propagation pass to try to reduce scheduling dependencies and occasionally eliminate the copy.
--param name=value
In some places, GCC uses various constants to control the amount of optimization that is done. For example, GCC will not inline functions that contain more that a certain number of instructions. You can control some of these constants on the command-line using the --param option.

In each case, the value is an integer. The allowable choices for name are given in the following table:

The maximum number of instructions to consider when looking for an instruction to fill a delay slot. If more than this arbitrary number of instructions is searched, the time savings from filling the delay slot will be minimal so stop searching. Increasing values mean more aggressive optimization, making the compile time increase with probably small improvement in executable run time.
When trying to fill delay slots, the maximum number of instructions to consider when searching for a block with valid live register information. Increasing this arbitrarily chosen value means more aggressive optimization, increasing the compile time. This parameter should be removed when the delay slot code is rewritten to maintain the control-flow graph.
The approximate maximum amount of memory that will be allocated in order to perform the global common subexpression elimination optimization. If more memory than specified is required, the optimization will not be done.
The maximum number of passes of GCSE to run.
The maximum number of pending dependencies scheduling will allow before flushing the current state and starting over. Large functions with few branches or calls can create excessively large lists which needlessly consume memory and resources.
If an function contains more than this many instructions, it will not be inlined. This option is precisely equivalent to -finline-limit.