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A Review of GCC 4.0 429

Posted by Hemos
from the only-time-will-tell dept.
ChaoticCoyote writes " I've just posted a short review of GCC 4.0, which compares it against GCC 3.4.3 on Opteron and Pentium 4 systems, using LAME, POV-Ray, the Linux kernel, and SciMark2 as benchmarks. My conclusion: Is GCC 4.0 better than its predecessors? In terms of raw numbers, the answer is a definite "no". I've tried GCC 4.0 on other programs, with similar results to the tests above, and I won't be recompiling my Gentoo systems with GCC 4.0 in the near future. The GCC 3.4 series still has life in it, and the GCC folk have committed to maintaining it. A 3.4.4 update is pending as I write this. That said, no one should expect a "point-oh-point-oh" release to deliver the full potential of a product, particularly when it comes to a software system with the complexity of GCC. Version 4.0.0 is laying a foundation for the future, and should be seen as a technological step forward with new internal architectures and the addition of Fortran 95. If you compile a great deal of C++, you'll want to investigate GCC 4.0. Keep an eye on 4.0. Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit. "
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A Review of GCC 4.0

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:45PM (#12408863)
    Well clearly the problem is that you compiled GCC 4.0.0 with GCC 3.4.3! What I did was go through the GCC 4.0 source code in two seperate windows, fire up hexedit in another, and go through line by line "compiling" GCC 4.0 with the GCC 4.0 source, in my head. I wouldn't recommend doing this with -funroll-loops, my hands started cramping up.

    Or you could wait to compile 4.0 until the 3.0 branch makes it to 3.9.9, then it will be close enough anyway. YMMV, people say I give out bad advice, go figure...
    • Gee, I would have just compiled 4.0.0 with 3.4.3, then compiled 4.0.0 again with 4.0.0.
      • but then the gcc 4 you compiled with gcc 3.4.3 would produce tainted compilations, and the second 4.0.0 compilation would lean towards 3.4.3 because it was compiled with a compiler that was compiled by 3.4.3. You would have to then take the second compilation of 4.0.0 and compile 4.0.0 with it, at which point the similarity to 3.4.3 would make it somewhere along the lines of 3.7.0. If you continue to compile it, while it will never reach 4.0.0, it will approach closely enough that for all intents and purposes, it will be 4.0.0. The forumula is as follows:


        where V1 was used to compile V2, and V2 was used to compile V3.
        • I believe the Linux from Scratch (LFS) folks have found you have to repeat this three (3) times to have, what is effectively, a clean 4.0.0 compile.
          • If your compiler compiles correctly, a program (leaving floating point inaccuracies aside) should produce the same result no matter what compiler it is compiled with. I.e. a gcc 4.0 should produce the same results no matter if it's itself compiled with 3.4.3 or 4.0.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @04:29PM (#12412012)
              Yes, as long as it wasn't miscompiled.

              Historically, GCC tends to bring out the worst in compilers. That is why when you build GCC, the system compiler will be used once, /without optimizations/ to produce a slow GCC 4.0 which can be used to compile itself. This is done twice (stage 1 compiles stage 2 and stage 2 compiles stage 3) so that 2 and 3 can be compared to ensure that there were no miscompilations, as it is unlikely that a miscompiled compiler will produce correctly executable machine code that replicates exactly.

              Unlikely but possible. Look for the paper "Reflections on trusting trust" for a beautiful hack involving intentional miscompilations. The author basically changed the compiler so that when "login" was being compiled, the compiler inserted a back door. And when a new compiler was being compiled, the compiler would insert the code to insert the back door and to change the next compiler. And then no matter how much you checked teh source to either login or the compiler, you would never notice the back door.
      • by rsidd (6328) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:54PM (#12409837)
        The GP was a joke, but since you're serious, this is exactly what the "bootstrapping" build of gcc does: it builds a stage 1 build with the system compiler, then a stage 2 build with the stage 1 build, then -- if you want -- a stage 3 build with the stage 2 build, and verifies that the stage 2 and stage 3 builds are the same.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:12PM (#12409230)

      This was meant as a joke, but for those who took this too seriously: if you have ever tried building GCC yourself, you should know that it always recompiles itself.

      A gcc "stage 1" build is gcc compiled with your old compiler. The "stage 2" build is gcc compiled with the compiler created in the previous stage. This is the one that gets installed. The "stage 3" build is optional and verifies that the "stage 2" compiler creates the same output as the previous one.

  • Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:46PM (#12408887) Journal
    It was a long time before GCC 3 got better than 2.95. I expect the same thing will happen here.
    • Re:Expected (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rei (128717) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:11PM (#12409208) Homepage
      I think the problem is that, if I'm not mistaken, he's testing all C code except Povray. The biggest reported improvements in 4.0 were for g++, so using such a small C++ sample base (Povray - one purpose, one set of design principles, few authors) seems bound to produce inaccurate benchmarking.

      Further, on his most reasonable C benchmark (the Linux kernel), he only records compile time and binary size, but no performance. I call it the most reasonable benchmark because it has thousands of contributors and covers a wide range of code purposes and individual coding habits - and yet, performance is omitted.

      In short, I wouldn't trust this benchmark. Probably the best benchmark would be to build a whole Gentoo system with both, with identical configurations, and check build times and performances ;)
      • Re:Expected (Score:5, Funny)

        by markov_chain (202465) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:48PM (#12409765) Homepage
        Is it that surprising that a Gentoo user thinks of compiling time as the performance metric? :)
      • Re:Expected (Score:5, Informative)

        by The boojum (70419) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:05PM (#12409961)
        Sorry to tell you this, but the review is even mistaken with respect to Povray. Povray is not a C++ program - it's good ol' C. So in fact, none of the programs he benchmarked were C++. The test was exclusively on C code.

        As nice as C is, a lot of the improvements in GCC seemed to have been targetted at improving its handling of C++ code. I'd particularly like to know how it fairs with respect to modern C++ style code - massively templated stuff with STL, Boost, traits and policies, smart pointers, lots of small inlined methods, etc. This test tells me nothing about that, and that's where a lot of development is these days.
      • Re:Expected (Score:3, Informative)

        by Shisha (145964)

        I call it the most reasonable benchmark because it has thousands of contributors and covers a wide range of code purposes and individual coding habits - and yet, performance is omitted.
        As someone who has done some kernel (see this old project []) and other programming, I would probably disagree with this statement. The code you find in the linux kernel is rather different (think concurrency, locking, I/O waiting, message passing) to the code you'd find in a number crunching application (think for loops tha

    • Re:Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . c om> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:17PM (#12409309) Homepage Journal
      I'm not convinced that this test shows that gcc4 is less effecitve than gcc3, though.

      First off, all of the programs tested are programs that use hand-tooled assembly in the most performance-sensitive code. That has to mean that the compiler is moot in those sections.

      A better test would be to compare three things: the hand-optimized assembly under gcc 3 vs the C code (usually there's a configure switch that tells the code to ignore the hand-tuned assembly, and use a C equivalent) under gcc4 vs that same C code under gcc4.

      I think you'd see a surprising result, and if the vectorization code is good enough, you should even see a small boost over the hand-tuned assembly (since ALL of the code is being optimized this way, not just critical sections).
    • Re:Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity.sbcglobal@net> on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:00PM (#12409912) Homepage Journal
      I think the author of the article misunderstands just what happened with GCC 4.0.

      The main improvement in GCC 4.0 is implementing Single Static Assignment.

      SSA is not an optimization. It is a simplification. If you can assume SSA, then it opens the door to an entire class of optimizations that can help improve your performance without affecting your code's correctness.

      That last bit -- optimizing code without affecting correctness -- was a big problem in the days before SSA.

      In that regard, SSA is a similar technology to RISC -- it does not speed things up by itself, but it enables speedups for later on.

      The lack of SSA is one thing that kept gcc out of the hands of compiler researchers. Now that it does that, academia can start hacking away with gcc, and the delay you expect is the time between implementing SSA and implementing all of the optimizations that really will improve code performance.
      • Re:Expected (Score:5, Informative)

        by ma_luen (798746) <`marron' `at' `'> on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:34PM (#12410334)
        I think you are over estimating the interest of the research community in working on gcc. The move from the intentionally underdocumented and ill defined intermediate representations to tree ssa is a huge step for gcc. Unfortunately, there is still no real effort to make the platform attractive to do experimental work on.

        The McCat compiler from McGill (which is what gcc borrowed the ssa rep from), C-- or the LLVM project all provide a much nicer platform. The internal representation is clearly documented, there are frameworks and examples for writing new passes and most importantly they all allow for whole program compilation.

        Until gcc decides to support some of this the project will continue to be ignored by research groups. This might be fine since research compiler work can be fairly ugly and it is just easier to port what works.

        Otherwise I agree that the move to ssa form is a critical step for gcc to take and it will enable it to become a "modern" compiler. More emportantly it will enable the inclusion of the large body of compiler work that is based on ssa forms.

  • What about... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elid (672471) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {dopi.ile}> on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:47PM (#12408901)
    ...Tiger? Wasn't it compiled with GCC 4.0?
    • Re:What about... (Score:5, Informative)

      by scotlewis (45960) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:56PM (#12409023)
      Yes and no. The default compiler is GCC4, however, the kernel and much of the OS (pretty much all of Darwin, in fact) are still compiled with GCC3 because they haven't completely cleared the codebase of GCC3-isms.

      That said, remember that the submitter is talking about GCC4 on x86 platforms, and remember that Apple is putting a lot of work into making sure the PowerPC optimizations are as good as possible. Not to mention things like GCC4's auto-vectorization of code to take advantage of the Altivec unit (which has a more noticeable effect than MMXing x86 code).

      It would be nice to see some test results for Apple's GCC versions 3 and 4.
      • Re:What about... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Space cowboy (13680) * on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @02:23AM (#12417250) Journal
        It would be nice to see some test results for Apple's GCC versions 3 and 4.

        Well, I did have a bunch of results for you, but the CRAPPY LAMENESS FILTER won't let me post them. Apparently I have to use less 'junk' characters (of course the CRAPPY PROGRAMMER didn't define what a 'junk' character is in the error message, so that's NO USE WHAT-SO-EVER.)

        So, I guess I'll summarise. gcc version 4 is slightly worse than 3.3, and slightly better when the tree-vectorize option is passed and altivec code is generated.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:49PM (#12408921)
    This has always bugged me.

    Some people spend 10 hours tweaking compiler settings and optimizations to get an extra 5% performance from their code.

    Other people spend 2 hours selecting the proper algorithm in the first place and get an extra 500% performance from their code.

    To semi-quote The Matrix: One of these endeavors... is intelligent. And one of them is not.

    • At some point you've got the best algorithm, you've profiled, you've hand-optimised, you've got the fastest hardware you can afford....and you *still* need that last 5%.

      That's when you spend 10 hours tweaking compilers settings...
      • by pclminion (145572) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:54PM (#12408982)
        At some point you've got the best algorithm, you've profiled, you've hand-optimised, you've got the fastest hardware you can afford....and you *still* need that last 5%. That's when you spend 10 hours tweaking compilers settings...

        If you really, positively need an extra 5% performance, you might as well just buy a computer that's 5% faster.

        • by Stiletto (12066) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:57PM (#12409031)
          If you really, positively need an extra 5% performance, you might as well just buy a computer that's 5% faster.

          You work at Microsoft, right? No? Intel?
        • by Minwee (522556) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:59PM (#12409055) Homepage
          Unfortunately, including a faster computer with every copy of the code you distribute may be prohibitively expensive.
    • You should do both. Choosing the right algorithms is crucial, no doubt about it. But if you've got a massive database application, that 5% can represent a huge amount of work and be worth the trouble. A little bit of extra performance can, in many cases, go a long, long way towards adding to the value of the software. Both endeavors are intelligent in many (if not most) cases. Performance is important in software, and any little bit you can squeeze out will likely be a big deal.
    • by kfg (145172) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:59PM (#12409064)
      And in both groups you will find people who believe that execution speed is the measurement of code quality.

    • by mattgreen (701203) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:11PM (#12409212)
      It is because it is easier to delve into needlessly technical aspects afforded by compiler settings and 'optimizations' than it is to admit that one's algorithm is not sound. Kids running Gentoo delude themselves into thinking that omitting the frame pointer on compiles is going to make a massive difference in terms of performance, and fail to remember it makes bug hunting far more difficult when applications crash. Additionally, the 5% gain mentioned can be a severe overstatement. I frequent a game programming board, and the widespread use of C++ has led to an abundance of nano-optimization threads, the most amusing of which was an attempt to optimize strlen().

      Optimizing every single line of code is a complete waste of time, since the 80/20 rule generally applies. Use a profiler to determine where that 20% is.
      • by BlurredWeasel (723480) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:43PM (#12409685)
        I run gentoo (not for performance, but mainly because I am familiar with it, and it is easy), and you know what...I don't bug hunt. And adding -fomitframepointer or whatever the hell the option is (its in my flags somewhere) doesn't cost me anything, makes my system say (made up stat) 5% faster and I am happy. It makes no sense why you should deride me (read: gentooers) as an idiot. We're just end users, and if we can get a little bit of performance for free, well why not.
      • Kids running Gentoo delude themselves into thinking that omitting the frame pointer on compiles is going to make a massive difference in terms of performance, and fail to remember it makes bug hunting far more difficult when applications crash.

        Gentoo? Crash? No way, dude. It, like, never crashSegmentation fault.

        • by m50d (797211) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:24PM (#12410216) Homepage Journal
          Dude, when did you ever see "Segmentation fault" sent over the network? If you're going to use that old joke at least do it r#i*&$£!"^ NO CARRIER
          • AYNARD: It reads, 'Here may be found the last words of Joseph of
            Aramathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the
            Holy Grail in the Castle of Segmentation Fault'.
            ARTHUR: What?
            MAYNARD: '... the Castle of Segmentation Fault'.
            BEDEVERE: What is that?
            MAYNARD: He must have crashed while carving it.
            LAUNCELOT: Oh, come on!
            MAYNARD: Well, that's what it says.
            ARTHUR: Look, if he was crashing, he wouldn't bother to send it over the network
            'aaggggh'. He'd just print it!
            MAYNARD: Well, that's what's his comment
      • by Szplug (8771) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:11PM (#12410039)
        A prospective professor gave a talk at our school, he'd been working at some grid computing lab. Well their code was underperforming, so they profiled it and found that sprintf was taking 30? 50? 70? % (I forget) of their code time - the machines had to communicate with each other a lot, and they used sprintf to serialize. (It's an easy fix - C++'s stream operators are much faster, since the type is known at compile time.)

        Oh yeah, also, for Quake 1, John Carmack hired Michael Abrash, an assembly language guru, to help out. Well Abrash found that GCC's memcpy() (or whatever it was) was copying byte-by-byte instead of by word (or something, I don't remember) and his reimplementation of that alone, doubled the frame rate!

        Just some interesting counter examples to keep in mind :)
        • ACK! If 70% of your time is spent in a serialization function call, FORGET about optimizing the function call.... You are WAY too fine grained in your algorithm for effective parallelization. He's have been better off running the whole damn thing serially on a single box methinks. His fancy grid algorithm spent more time doing "grid" stuff than working on his problem!
    • The point of this article is compiler optimizations, not algorithm selection. At the point that I look at compiler performance, I've already done all of the algorithm tuning so your point is moot. This is a very interesting benchmark for those that of who already write good code and want the compiler to make the best of it.
    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:58PM (#12411478) Homepage Journal
      If you have a choice of algorithms, then of course use the better algorithm. But for most of the day-to-day code we deal with, we don't have that choice, because we're not dealing with code that has any grand algorithms to it. For example, if I'm writing a GUI frontend to a command line app, what are my choices of algorithms? Not much.

      In my real life coding work, the places where algorithm efficiency makes a difference are far outweighed by those places that don't. And of those places that do make a difference, the performance is rarely a critical need. For example, I just coded up some RAMDAC lookup tables, and a difference of algorithm would make a huge difference in efficiency. But this particular routine was triggered by a user event (clicking a button in a config dialog), so that my dogslow but highly readable/understandable algorithm wasn't a bottleneck for anything. In this case tweaking the compiler settings would have given a 5% boost to everything, but a change in algorithm would only have given a 1/10 second boost for an event that would happen approximately once a week or less.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:51PM (#12408943)
    "Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit."

    Does this mean I have to wait until it's 18?
  • Fast KDE compile. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:52PM (#12408965)
    It's damn fast for KDE compile as someone tested [].
  • The Future? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by liam193 (571414) * on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:52PM (#12408968)
    Version 4.0.0 is laying a foundation for the future, and should be seen as a technological step forward with new internal architectures and the addition of Fortran 95.

    While I know the benefits of Fortran 95 are a big thing, saying it's a technological step forward to incorporate for the first time a 10 year old standard seems a bit ridiculous. When I first saw this article I had to check my calendar to make sure it was May 1st and not April 1st.

    • by discordja (612393) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:01PM (#12409087)
      I can see how that'd throw you off since it's May 2. :)
    • Re:The Future? (Score:3, Informative)

      by GauteL (29207)
      It IS a big thing. This is the first freely distributable, readily available compiler of Fortran 95.

      Up until now, my PhD work has needed compilers I can't just simply install without high fees, because the academic free license for propriatary compilers still sounds a bit fishy in it's requirements. This is actually a major boost for the Scientific Computing community.

      However, lots of people have just NOW started to trust current F95 compilers (lots of academic code are still written in F77). It will be s
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:53PM (#12408977)
    Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit.

    Is that what you say to new parents? :-)

  • by jmcneill (256391) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:54PM (#12408983) Homepage
    Where are the screenshots?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:55PM (#12408992)

    -O0 -O2
    gcc 3.3.5 23m40 31m38
    gcc 3.4.3 22m47 28m45
    gcc 4.0.0 13m16 19m23

    KDElibs (with --enable-final)
    -O0 -O2
    gcc 3.3.5 14m44 27m28
    gcc 3.4.3 14m49 27m03
    gcc 4.0.0 9m54 23m30

    KDElibs (without --enable-final)
    gcc 3.3.5 32m56
    gcc 3.4.3 32m49
    gcc 4.0.0 15m15

    I think KDE and Gentoo people will like GCC 4.0 ;)
  • One of the problems with MINGW32 is that the linker doesn't respect the --gc-sections. When I read about the improved dead code ellimination (in the what's new of GCC 4.0), i wonder if we windows users could *finally* deliver executables as small as those made with the VC++ compiler.

    Any info on this? When's the mingw port going to be done? Has anyone tested the unofficial mingw build (forgot the url, sorry)?
  • Where would I find on which architectures fpmath is set to sse by default? The info file doesn't seem to have that information. And is it possible to tell the compiler to always use SSE instead of the FP registers, so I wouldn't have to have so many emms's all over the code? (In generic MMX-using routines which don't usually know what'll happen after them)
  • kettle? black? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dem3tre (793471)
    I love the open source movement but I wonder why the following comment is OK for open source projects and not close source?

    quote "That said, no one should expect a "point-oh-point-oh" release to deliver the full potential of a product, particularly when it comes to a software system with the complexity of GCC."

    I bet no one would dare say that about certain product from Redmond.
    • Re:kettle? black? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dan Berlin (682091) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:01PM (#12409082)
      Significant difference. If you ask gcc folk (like me), we'd happily tell you that 4.0 will probably be, performance wise, win in some cases, and a lose in others. Anytime you add large numbers of optimizations, it takes a while to tune everything else so that we get good generated code. 4.0 is more a test of the new optimizers than something that is supposed to produce spectacular results in all cases.
    • Re:kettle? black? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by imroy (755) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:39PM (#12409598) Homepage Journal

      I think you're a little mixed up there. When we criticize MS, we're often referring to the release of known buggy and badly implementated software to the general public. Instead the submitter of this article is referring to the "full potential" of the new optimization framework [] in GCC-4.0. It will, in theory, allow for much better optimizations to be performed on internal parse tree. But for now many of the CPU models are incomplete or non-existant, or something like that. The full potential of these optimizations will be delivered in a later release, either 4.0.x or 4.1, or perhaps a little of both. And the GCC team wouldn't have released GCC 4.0 with known, serious bugs.

      Or perhaps I've just been trolled. Wouldn't be the first time. I see that this is your first comment on slashdot. Welcome. Just don't troll.

  • by Laxitive (10360) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:02PM (#12409099) Journal
    "Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit."

    Seriously, this is why I don't appreciate babies. At least after about 4 or 5 years, they're useful for mild manual labour. Sure they'll complain and cry, but all you gotta do is tie their dishwashing to the number of fish heads they're allotted that week. Works pretty well, I gotta say. Anyway, at least they're not a net productivity drain like babies are.

    Anyway, what I mean to say is: from your description, it looks like I'll be staying away from GCC 4 for a while, too. Goddamn babies.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:03PM (#12409109) Homepage Journal
    As far as I'm concerned, unless you're using "-Os" because you're deliberately building small binaries at the expense of all else - say, for embedded development - the resulting binary size is completely irrelevant as a compiler benchmark. What if the smaller result uses a slower, naive algorithm (which in this case would mean choosing an obviously-correct set of opcodes to implement a line of C instead of a less-obvious but faster set)?

    Second, the runtime benchmarks were close enough to be statistically meaningless in most cases. The author concludes with:

    Is GCC 4.0 better than its predecessors?

    In terms of raw numbers, the answer is a definite "no".

    My take would have been "in terms of raw numbers, it's not really any better yet." It's close enough to equal (and slower in few enough cases that I'd be willing to accept them), though, that I'd be willing to switch to it if I could do so without having to modify a lot of incompatible code. It's clearly the way of the future, and as long as it's not worse than the current gold standard, why not?

    • by larien (5608)
      Smaller binaries = quicker load time (less disk I/O or memory being moved around) and smaller memory footprint. Yes, this is mostly in embedded apps where memory sizes might still be in KB rather than GB, but if you're analyzing performance, memory usage is relevant, even if it may not be your primary concern.
  • by shreevatsa (845645) <shreevatsa.slashdot@gmail . c om> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:07PM (#12409155)
    The worst part is that they now say that the
    operators are deprecated, and will be removed. Damn, I liked them so much. Sure, they weren't part of the standard, and only a GCC extension, but it's just so much more fun to say
    a = b <? c
    than to say
    a = min(b,c)
    or even
    . The best use was saying
    instead of the painful
    • Re:The ? operator (Score:3, Interesting)

      by keshto (553762)
      Dude, you've never coded in a commercial environment , have you ? Or are all your company's projects meant to be compiled by a specific version of gcc only, regardless of the OS and architecture? I use gcc exclusively these days, but it's for my research. Back when I was working, we had to code for both VC++ and g++ . Atleast, the ones of us who worked on core-engine code. Fixing some moron's VC++ -specific idiocy sucked.
    • by Heywood Jablonski (543761) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:51PM (#12411356)
      The worst part is that they now say that the <? , >? , <?= and >?= operators are deprecated...

      That's because they were conflicting with the new gphp front-end.

    • Re:The ? operator (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phleg (523632)

      If I ever see a developer do something as stupid as this on a job application, there's no way they will ever get a job working for me.

      Having clean, readable code is far, far more important than saving a few minutes in total in a project. Using compiler-specific features is generally frowned upon, but acceptable in cases where there are significant performance or time gains. Using a compiler-specific alias to save yourself a few extra keystrokes at the extreme cost of readability is just being lazy, and not

  • by expro (597113) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:07PM (#12409159)

    I agree that this compiler is a cornerstone of free software.

    But it was very frustrating to me to try to port the compiler to a new platform by modifying existing back ends for similar platforms.

    After spending a few months on it (m68k in this case), I could not escape the layers of hack upon cruft upon hack upon cruft, that made it extremely difficult to make even fairly superficial mods because everyone seemed to be using the features differently and all the power seemed lost in hacks that made it impossible to do simple things (for me anyway). I am quite familiar with many assemblers and optimizing compilers.

    I hope that the new work makes a somewhat-clean break with the old, otherwise, I would fear yet another layer to be hacked and interwoven, with the other ones that were so poorly fit to the back ends.

    I suspect that not all backends are the same and perhaps the same experience would not be true for a more-popular target, but it seems to me it shouldn't be that hard to create a model that is more powerful yet more simple. Such would seem to me to be a major step forward and enable much greateer optimization, utilization, maintainability, etc.

  • -ftree-* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:08PM (#12409172)
    The whole point of gcc4.0.0 is the tree-ssa thing. The author of this test didn't seem to notice that this stuff doesn't get enabled in -O2 nor -O3, but does have to be enabled by hand. This includes autovectorization (-ftree-vectorice) among other things which may make a difference.

    If I was him, I'd repeat the tests again enabling the -ftree stuff when building with gcc4.0.0.
    • by jensend (71114) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:51PM (#12409801)
      Unless the GCC documentation is very wrong, the only tree-ssa optimizations in 4.0 which don't get turned on by default at -O3 are -ftree-loop-linear, -ftree-loop-im, -ftree-loop-ivcanon, -fivopts, and -ftree-vectorize. It's true that some of these may be good optimization wins (probably increasing compile time in the process, but that's what the higher optimization levels are all about), but there are plenty of tree-ssa optimization passes being used in these tests.

      Auto-vectorization, by the way, does not fall into a "obvious optimization wins which perhaps should be enabled at -O3 by default" category. It can bring very big performance benefits in some situations, but it should be used with caution.
    • Re:-ftree-* (Score:4, Informative)

      by Florian Weimer (88405) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:56PM (#12409857) Homepage
      The whole point of gcc4.0.0 is the tree-ssa thing.

      True, this is the major infrastructure change which justified the "4".

      The author of this test didn't seem to notice that this stuff doesn't get enabled in -O2 nor -O3, but does have to be enabled by hand.

      No, most tree-ssa optimizers are enabled implicitly at -O2 (they replace quite a few of the old RTL-based optimizers). Only some numerics code can benefit from loop autovectorization (which has to be enabled explicitly; for most source code, it just increases compile time).
  • non-x86 arch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChristTrekker (91442) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:12PM (#12409235)

    What about the performance on MIPS? PPC? C'mon, people...enquiring minds want to know!

  • by (653730) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:16PM (#12409290)
    I found this in the osnews announcement

    "Before we get a bunch of complaints about the fact that most binaries generated by GCC 4.0 are only marginally faster (and some a bit slower) than those compiled with 3.4, let me point out a few things that I've gathered from casually browsing the GCC development lists. I'm neither a GCC contributor nor a compiler expert.

    Prior to GCC 4.0, the implementation of optimizations was mostly language-specific; there was little or no integration of optimization techniques across all languages. The main goal of the 4.0 release is to roll out a new, unified optimization framework (Tree-SSA), and to begin converting the old, fragmented optimization strategies to the unified framework.

    Major improvements to the quality of the generated code aren't expected to arrive until later versions, when GCC contributors will have had a chance to really begin to leverage the new optimization infrastructure instead of just migrating to it.

    So, although GCC 4.0 brings fairly dramatic benefits to compilation speed, the speed of generated binaries isn't expected to be markedly better than 3.4; that latter speedup isn't expected until later installments in the 4.x series."
    • That is only partly true. All gcc releases since 1.0 have integrated optimizations across all languages. What gcc 4.0 has added is a new, higher-level framework for language independent optimizations. The new framework, known as tree-ssa, permits more powerful optimization techniques, in particular some of the techniques which have been developed by the compiler research community since gcc was first written in the 1980s. The old language independent optimization framework, known as RTL, is still there
  • Like a baby (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:25PM (#12409395)
    Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit.

    "Come here son. Did you know your mother and I almost decided to not keep you when you were born? You were just a baby at the time, you didn't seem to have any value. I mean, seriously, what use is there for a baby? I'm glad we didn't make that mistake.
    Now go play outside and don't come back before dinner time, and pick up the trash when you leave."
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:27PM (#12409418)
    There was one test case I did for my own use. I've got a small C++ program that's computationally heavey and has a small working set of memory.

    On that program (on a P4) I got an 11% reduction in runtime using GCC 4 vs. GCC 3.3.5. This was actually a big deal for me work.

    The lesson here: You're mileage with GCC 4.0's improvements may vary from the benchmarks, and you might want to try it on your own code.
  • by GnuPooh (696143) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:32PM (#12409484) Homepage
    I don't wanna read the review it reveals the ending or something. I mean what good is a compiler without some big unexpected surpises?
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:36PM (#12409542)
    Like a baby, we won't really appreciate its value until it's matured a bit.

    Are you kidding? Babies are worth $15,000-$20,000 easily, even if they're female. Once e-Bay stops being a bunch of pussies and we get some open bidding started, I expect their value to go up even higher.

    Once again, we see that the ./ editors have no idea what they're writing about.

  • by cpghost (719344) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:52PM (#12409808) Homepage

    Recently, a discussion took place on a FreeBSD mailing list wether the project wanted to use GCC 4.0.0 as the system compiler. Some objections where:

    • KDE would not compile cleanly []
    • Most of the 12.000+ ports would need manual tweaking because of other incompatibilities.
    • Some C constructs have been obsoleted, requiring huge sweeps over the existing BSD code base.

    If I understood it right, We won't have a GCC 4.0.0 system compiler on FreeBSD anytime soon. Installing the gcc40 port is, of course, always possible.

  • by Fefe (6964) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:04PM (#12409960) Homepage
    Uh, and this review is helping us... how?

    lame uses assembler code for vectorization. One of the new features of gcc 4 is the beginnings of a vectorization model. A good test for gcc 4 would have been to compile some C-only bignum libraries, and Ogg Vorbis! povray is also a good example, but then you need to test more than one specific test-run. Maybe gcc 4 makes radiosity in pov-ray 400% faster at a 2% cost in the rest of the code?

    This guy is the Tom's Hardware of Linux reviews, except he doesn't have the annoying ads, and he does not split his lack of content over 30 HTML pages.

    The new warnings of gcc 4 have helped me find a bug in my code. That saved me a week. Consider how much faster gcc 4 needs to make pov-ray or lame to save you a week of work!

    gcc 4 can now reorder functions according to profile feedback. That should make large C++ projects faster. Also, the ELF visibility should make KDE start much faster. This should have been tested!

    Please note that I'm not saying gcc 4 produces faster code. I don't rightly know. I do know it produces smaller code for my project dietlibc [], where size matters more than speed.
  • by Paradox (13555) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:30PM (#12410286) Homepage Journal
    It isn't a huge deal for most people, but it seems like the new GCC is singificantly better at optimizing for the PowerPC now.

    I've been working with the GNU GSL on my mac a lot, and I recently updated to Tiger. The first thing I noticed when I recompiled the GSL with Apple's modified GCC4.0 is the significant and noticable speed increase. With this intense math stuff, doing SVD on 300x200 matricies, and it's shocking how much faster it is. I went from 3-5 seconds down to less than one.

    I am not going to post any hard numbers because I haven't rigorously compared them yet, but I'll make some formal comparisons this week.
  • by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher@gmai l . com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @04:21PM (#12411859) Homepage Journal
    You know, I remember when someone did this to GCC 3, comparing against 2.9.5.

    4.0.0 is a brand new compiler. Lots of techniques in it are brand new. Lots of tweaks and polish can be applied. If you actually take the time to compare 3.4 to 3.0, you'll find that the gap is bigger than 4.0 to 3.4. Furthermore, if you compare 2.9.5 to 3.0, you'll find 2.9.5 is better than 3.0 by a much wider margin than 3.4 is to 4.0.

    This is a misunderstanding of the nature of progress. 4.0 is a brand new compiler with brand new internal behaviors. Lots of things are at the It Works stage, instead of the It's Efficient stage. You can't compare a 3-year polished compiler to a 3-week polished compiler; it's utter nonsense.

    If you want to compare 4.0 to something, compare it to 3.0, or sit down.

Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so. -- Josh Billings