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7.1 When is a Volatile C++ Object Accessed?

The C++ standard differs from the C standard in its treatment of volatile objects. It fails to specify what constitutes a volatile access, except to say that C++ should behave in a similar manner to C with respect to volatiles, where possible. However, the different lvalueness of expressions between C and C++ complicate the behavior. G++ behaves the same as GCC for volatile access, See Volatiles, for a description of GCC's behavior.

The C and C++ language specifications differ when an object is accessed in a void context:

     volatile int *src = somevalue;

The C++ standard specifies that such expressions do not undergo lvalue to rvalue conversion, and that the type of the dereferenced object may be incomplete. The C++ standard does not specify explicitly that it is lvalue to rvalue conversion which is responsible for causing an access. There is reason to believe that it is, because otherwise certain simple expressions become undefined. However, because it would surprise most programmers, G++ treats dereferencing a pointer to volatile object of complete type as GCC would do for an equivalent type in C. When the object has incomplete type, G++ issues a warning; if you wish to force an error, you must force a conversion to rvalue with, for instance, a static cast.

When using a reference to volatile, G++ does not treat equivalent expressions as accesses to volatiles, but instead issues a warning that no volatile is accessed. The rationale for this is that otherwise it becomes difficult to determine where volatile access occur, and not possible to ignore the return value from functions returning volatile references. Again, if you wish to force a read, cast the reference to an rvalue.

G++ implements the same behavior as GCC does when assigning to a volatile object – there is no reread of the assigned-to object, the assigned rvalue is reused. Note that in C++ assignment expressions are lvalues, and if used as an lvalue, the volatile object will be referred to. For instance, vref will refer to vobj, as expected, in the following example:

     volatile int vobj;
     volatile int &vref = vobj = something;