Experiments in program optimisation

The mystery of an unstable performance

Story: De-multiplexing of E1 streams

Tags: C C++ GCC optimisation

12 May 2014

Most people love detective stories. It is a bit illogical. The situation where everyone is alive and well, and all the valuables are where they were left, for logically minded person must be much more enjoyable than the case when they know exactly who killed half a dozen people and stole the money.

Most programmers love resolving mysteries. For many, like me, this is the biggest fun in programming – to find out what went wrong and why. This is also illogical. Logically, the biggest fun should have been when everything just worked.

Obviously, our problems are different. A typical problem is “Why doesn’t this program work?”. Optimisation adds another one: “Why is this program slow?”. Both require full-scale investigation work, and as a result a programmer feels inside the detective story, as either a victim, a criminal or a detective, depending on the outcome.

Our investigations have a lot in common with what those clever detectives do in the books. They come up with the ideas and evaluate them – we do that too. They interview witnesses – we read logfiles. They take samples and run laboratory tests – so do we. There is even our equivalent of crawling in mud at the crime scene under moonlight looking for evidence – it is reading binary code in the middle of a faulty program, a very exciting activity indeed.

Today I want to share one such investigation story, which was quite entertaining for me. I am going to tell the story as it unfolds, with the solution right in the end.

The mystery

As you might remember, in the article “De-multiplexing of E1 stream: converting to C” we converted the Java code into C++ and ran it on a Sandy Bridge processor. These were the results we got:

9Reference: 1939
11Src_First_1: 1885
11Src_First_2: 1924
11Src_First_3: 1892
11Dst_First_1: 1467
11Dst_First_2: 1445
11Dst_First_3: 1761
10Unrolled_1: 633
12Unrolled_1_2: 634
12Unrolled_1_4: 654
12Unrolled_1_8: 650
13Unrolled_1_16: 635
15Unrolled_2_Full: 635
10Unrolled_3: 635
10Unrolled_4: 655

Let’s concentrate on a ‘Dst_First’ family of versions:

11Dst_First_1: 1467
11Dst_First_2: 1445
11Dst_First_3: 1761

Let me remind you the nature of these three versions:

We couldn’t predict relative performance of Dst_First_1 and Dst_First_2. Each compiler may respond differently to manual optimisations. The generated code could have become better or worse. In our case it seems to have become better, there is nothing unusual here.

But the performance of Dst_First_3 is definitely unusual. I expected it to be as fast as Dst_First_1, or, even more likely, faster. And everyone would. This is common sense: programs don’t become slower from replacing of variable loop limits with hard-coded constants – unless there is something wrong with a compiler. And here it is 20% slower. This is a mystery, and it requires an investigation. Without knowing the answer, we can’t go forward. What’s the point optimising a program by 5% or 10% if some unknown factor can suddenly make it lose 20% of speed?

Simplifying the program

When facing any kind of a mystery it always helps reducing the situation to the simplest one possible, where all irrelevant or unnecessary factors have been eliminated. This is what we’re trying to achieve now. We’ll do the following:

here is the code for two versions in question:

class Dst_First_1 : public Demux
{
public:
    void demux (const byte * src, unsigned src_length, byte ** dst) const
    {
        for (unsigned dst_num = 0; dst_num < NUM_TIMESLOTS; ++ dst_num) {
            for (unsigned dst_pos = 0; dst_pos < src_length / NUM_TIMESLOTS; ++ dst_pos) {
                dst [dst_num][dst_pos] = src [dst_pos * NUM_TIMESLOTS + dst_num];
            }
        }
    }
};

class Dst_First_3 : public Demux
{
public:
    void demux (const byte * src, unsigned src_length, byte ** dst) const
    {
        for (unsigned dst_num = 0; dst_num < NUM_TIMESLOTS; ++ dst_num) {
            for (unsigned dst_pos = 0; dst_pos < DST_SIZE; ++ dst_pos) {
                dst [dst_num][dst_pos] = src [dst_pos * NUM_TIMESLOTS + dst_num];
            }
        }
    }
};

The new code is in file e1-2.cpp. Let’s compile it and run:

# c++ -O3 -o e1-2 e1-2.cpp -lrt
# ./e1-2
11Dst_First_1: 1747
11Dst_First_3: 1761

Suddenly both versions run at similar speed. It might seem that we’ve lost the effect and achieved nothing, but it is not so. We’ve established something important: the Dst_First_1 isn’t always much faster then Dst_First_3, which means that its code isn’t necessarily better. Besides, it can be fast or slow, depending on the environment. We are not in fact dealing with performance degradation in Dst_First_3, we are dealing with a stability issue. Our investigation becomes even more important, because we can’t seriously embark on any optimisation exercise when our measurements are so unstable.

Could it be that the compiler generates different code in different circumstances? Or perhaps the code is the same but some places in memory are better than the others? We’ll look at it now. To do this, we don’t need two functions any more, one is enough – the one that’s unstable.

Testing the unstable

I’ll remove Dst_First_3 but instead create several copies of Dst_First_1. In C++ it is easy to do using templates (see e1-3.cpp):

template<int N> class Dst_First_1 : public Demux
{
public:
    void demux (const byte * src, unsigned src_length, byte ** dst) const
    {
        for (unsigned dst_num = 0; dst_num < NUM_TIMESLOTS; ++ dst_num) {
            for (unsigned dst_pos = 0; dst_pos < src_length / NUM_TIMESLOTS; ++ dst_pos) {
                dst [dst_num][dst_pos] = src [dst_pos * NUM_TIMESLOTS + dst_num];
            }
        }
    }
};

int main (void)
{
    src = generate ();
    dst = allocate_dst ();

    measure (Dst_First_1<0> ());
    measure (Dst_First_1<1> ());
    measure (Dst_First_1<2> ());
    measure (Dst_First_1<3> ());
    measure (Dst_First_1<4> ());
    measure (Dst_First_1<5> ());

    return 0;
}

Here is the result:

# ./e1-3
11Dst_First_1ILi0EE: 1749
11Dst_First_1ILi1EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi2EE: 1746
11Dst_First_1ILi3EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi4EE: 1745
11Dst_First_1ILi5EE: 1463

This is what we were looking for: an instability in its purest forms. The compiler seems to like versions with odd values of N but hate those with even ones.

What’s the difference?

Analysing the assembly file helps checking if the code produced for different versions differed. But this file does not show where these versions reside in memory. To see that, we need a universal programmer’s tool – a debugger, in our case gdb.

However, we still need the assembly file: we need to know the mangled C++ symbol names. It is easier to look at the assembly than learning the rules of this mangling.

A quick look at the assembly output shows the symbol names:

_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi5EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi4EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi3EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi2EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi1EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
_ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi0EE5demuxEPKhjPPh

Clearly, the digit after the ILi indicates the value of the template parameter N. Note the order – the methods are listed in the reverse order of their instantiation. This seems to be the general rule in GNU C: the code is generated last function first. This means that the code for a fast version comes first, followed by a slow version, followed by another fast one and so on. Let’s look at the first two, Dst_First_1<5> and Dst_First_1<4>. For that let’s run gdb:

# gdb ./e1-3
Reading symbols from /root/cpp/e1-3...(no debugging symbols found)...done.

Sorry, my mistake. We need the symbol table, which is not generated by default. Fortunately, this can easily be done:

# c++ -g -O3 -o e1-3 e1-3.cpp -lrt
# gdb ./e1-3
Reading symbols from /root/cpp/e1-3...done.

This is better. Let’s look at the code now:

(gdb) disassemble _ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi5EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
Dump of assembler code for function Dst_First_1<5>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const:
   0x0000000000400f80 <+0>:     shr    $0x5,%edx
   0x0000000000400f83 <+3>:     xor    %r10d,%r10d
   0x0000000000400f86 <+6>:     nopw   %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400f90 <+16>:    xor    %eax,%eax
   0x0000000000400f92 <+18>:    test   %edx,%edx
   0x0000000000400f94 <+20>:    mov    %r10d,%edi
   0x0000000000400f97 <+23>:    je     0x400fbb <Dst_First_1<5>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+59>
   0x0000000000400f99 <+25>:    nopl   0x0(%rax)
   0x0000000000400fa0 <+32>:    mov    %edi,%r8d
   0x0000000000400fa3 <+35>:    add    $0x20,%edi
   0x0000000000400fa6 <+38>:    movzbl (%rsi,%r8,1),%r9d
   0x0000000000400fab <+43>:    mov    (%rcx,%r10,8),%r8
   0x0000000000400faf <+47>:    mov    %r9b,(%r8,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400fb3 <+51>:    add    $0x1,%rax
   0x0000000000400fb7 <+55>:    cmp    %eax,%edx
   0x0000000000400fb9 <+57>:    ja     0x400fa0 <Dst_First_1<5>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+32>
   0x0000000000400fbb <+59>:    add    $0x1,%r10
   0x0000000000400fbf <+63>:    cmp    $0x20,%r10
   0x0000000000400fc3 <+67>:    jne    0x400f90 <Dst_First_1<5>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+16>
   0x0000000000400fc5 <+69>:    repz retq 
End of assembler dump.
(gdb) disassemble _ZNK11Dst_First_1ILi4EE5demuxEPKhjPPh
Dump of assembler code for function Dst_First_1<4>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const:
   0x0000000000400fd0 <+0>:     shr    $0x5,%edx
   0x0000000000400fd3 <+3>:     xor    %r10d,%r10d
   0x0000000000400fd6 <+6>:     nopw   %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400fe0 <+16>:    xor    %eax,%eax
   0x0000000000400fe2 <+18>:    test   %edx,%edx
   0x0000000000400fe4 <+20>:    mov    %r10d,%edi
   0x0000000000400fe7 <+23>:    je     0x40100b <Dst_First_1<4>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+59>
   0x0000000000400fe9 <+25>:    nopl   0x0(%rax)
   0x0000000000400ff0 <+32>:    mov    %edi,%r8d
   0x0000000000400ff3 <+35>:    add    $0x20,%edi
   0x0000000000400ff6 <+38>:    movzbl (%rsi,%r8,1),%r9d
   0x0000000000400ffb <+43>:    mov    (%rcx,%r10,8),%r8
   0x0000000000400fff <+47>:    mov    %r9b,(%r8,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000401003 <+51>:    add    $0x1,%rax
   0x0000000000401007 <+55>:    cmp    %eax,%edx
   0x0000000000401009 <+57>:    ja     0x400ff0 <Dst_First_1<4>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+32>
   0x000000000040100b <+59>:    add    $0x1,%r10
   0x000000000040100f <+63>:    cmp    $0x20,%r10
   0x0000000000401013 <+67>:    jne    0x400fe0 <Dst_First_1<4>::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+16>
   0x0000000000401015 <+69>:    repz retq 
End of assembler dump.

The two pieces of code are completely identical. There is no difference in code generation. They are placed close together: the first one ends at 0x400fc5 and the second one starts at 0x400fd0. Wait a minute, the first one started at 0x400f80. Maybe this is the difference? One address is a multiple of 0x20 and the other one is only a multiple of 0x10. In other words, the first version is aligned by 32 (in fact, also by 64 and by 128), while the other one is only aligned by 16.

Aligning functions

Fortunately, it is very easy to test the effect of function alignment. GNU C has a special switch to control it: -falign-functions

# c++ -O3 -falign-functions=32 -o e1-3 e1-3.cpp -lrt
# ./e1-3
11Dst_First_1ILi0EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi1EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi2EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi3EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi4EE: 1464
11Dst_First_1ILi5EE: 1464

It seems that we have found the culprit. The execution speed benefits from functions being aligned by 32. If a function isn’t explicitly aligned by 32, it is a matter of luck where it will end up, aligned or not. Its starting address depends on the presence of other functions, their sizes and the order of their generation. No wonder we’ve got such unstable results.

Back to original problem

We have found what was wrong. It’s time to finish the article, there is just one formality left: to test the solution on other examples. Let’s go back to e1-2.cpp and run it again:

# c++ -O3 -falign-functions=32 -o e1-2 e1-2.cpp -lrt
# ./e1-2
11Dst_First_1: 1463
11Dst_First_3: 1760

As it turns out, our triumph was premature. The solution does not work on Dst_First_3. So here we are, back in the depth of the assembly listings.

These are the names of our methods:

_ZNK11Dst_First_15demuxEPKhjPPh:
_ZNK11Dst_First_35demuxEPKhjPPh:

the former one being Dst_First_1::demux and the latter Dst_First_3::demux. Now back to the gdb:

# c++ -g -O3 -falign-functions=32 -o e1-2 e1-2.cpp -lrt
# gdb ./e1-2
Reading symbols from /root/cpp/e1-2...done.
(gdb) disassemble _ZNK11Dst_First_15demuxEPKhjPPh
Dump of assembler code for function Dst_First_1::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const:
   0x0000000000400f60 <+0>:     shr    $0x5,%edx
   0x0000000000400f63 <+3>:     xor    %r10d,%r10d
   0x0000000000400f66 <+6>:     nopw   %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400f70 <+16>:    xor    %eax,%eax
   0x0000000000400f72 <+18>:    test   %edx,%edx
   0x0000000000400f74 <+20>:    mov    %r10d,%edi
   0x0000000000400f77 <+23>:    je     0x400f9b <Dst_First_1::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+59>
   0x0000000000400f79 <+25>:    nopl   0x0(%rax)
   0x0000000000400f80 <+32>:    mov    %edi,%r8d
   0x0000000000400f83 <+35>:    add    $0x20,%edi
   0x0000000000400f86 <+38>:    movzbl (%rsi,%r8,1),%r9d
   0x0000000000400f8b <+43>:    mov    (%rcx,%r10,8),%r8
   0x0000000000400f8f <+47>:    mov    %r9b,(%r8,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400f93 <+51>:    add    $0x1,%rax
   0x0000000000400f97 <+55>:    cmp    %eax,%edx
   0x0000000000400f99 <+57>:    ja     0x400f80 <Dst_First_1::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+32>
   0x0000000000400f9b <+59>:    add    $0x1,%r10
   0x0000000000400f9f <+63>:    cmp    $0x20,%r10
   0x0000000000400fa3 <+67>:    jne    0x400f70 <Dst_First_1::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+16>
   0x0000000000400fa5 <+69>:    repz retq 
End of assembler dump.
(gdb) disassemble _ZNK11Dst_First_35demuxEPKhjPPh
Dump of assembler code for function Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const:
   0x0000000000400fc0 <+0>:     xor    %r9d,%r9d
   0x0000000000400fc3 <+3>:     nopl   0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400fc8 <+8>:     mov    %r9d,%edx
   0x0000000000400fcb <+11>:    xor    %eax,%eax
   0x0000000000400fcd <+13>:    nopl   (%rax)
   0x0000000000400fd0 <+16>:    mov    %edx,%edi
   0x0000000000400fd2 <+18>:    add    $0x20,%edx
   0x0000000000400fd5 <+21>:    movzbl (%rsi,%rdi,1),%r8d
   0x0000000000400fda <+26>:    mov    (%rcx,%r9,8),%rdi
   0x0000000000400fde <+30>:    mov    %r8b,(%rdi,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400fe2 <+34>:    add    $0x1,%rax
   0x0000000000400fe6 <+38>:    cmp    $0x40,%rax
   0x0000000000400fea <+42>:    jne    0x400fd0 <Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+16>
   0x0000000000400fec <+44>:    add    $0x1,%r9
   0x0000000000400ff0 <+48>:    cmp    $0x20,%r9
   0x0000000000400ff4 <+52>:    jne    0x400fc8 <Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+8>
   0x0000000000400ff6 <+54>:    repz retq 
End of assembler dump.

We can see that both pieces of code are aligned by 32. The second piece is shorter, for obvious reasons. It does not have to calculate the number of iterations of the loop and check if is is zero. The inner loops are almost identical, except the loop in the first code compares the loop variable (%eax) to another variable (%edx), while the second code compares it the constant $0x40 (at 0x400fe6). The ja (resp. jne) instructions that follows is the main loop instruction – it jumps to the beginning of the loop. The inner loop starts at 0x400f80 (0x20 offset from the start of the function) in the first case and at 0x400fd0 (0x10 offset from the start) in the second. These offsets look very round. Is it a coincidence? No, it is not. There are suspicious instructions just before the loops:

nopl   0x0(%rax)

(7 bytes long) in the first case, and

nopl   (%rax)

(3 bytes long) in another.

These are the modern day versions of a good old NOP, or no operation instruction. By using appropriate combination of arguments and prefixes, we can manufacture these instructions of virtually any length. The compiler uses them to align some point in the code, in our case the start of the loop body. And, as we can see in the second case, the loops were aligned by 16. It looks like it was the alignment of the loop that was important. The alignment of the function just helped align the loop when the loop started at aligned offset from the start of the function. We were lucky with Dst_First_1 but not in Dst_First_3. Funny enough, the source of this luck was longer code preceding the loop (25 bytes instead of 13).

Aligning loops

Fortunately, GCC has a special switch controlling loop alignment as well: -falign-loops.

# c++ -O3 -falign-functions=32 -falign-loops=32 -o e1-2 e1-2.cpp -lrt
# ./e1-2
11Dst_First_1: 1456
11Dst_First_3: 1462

This looks much better. In this case we don’t need -falign-functions any more, since it is implied. A compiler can’t align the loops by 32 if the functions aren’t aligned by 32. However, if we want to align functions without loops (such as our fully inlined version), we still need this switch. So let’s use both.

Why is the alignment so important? Apparently, a processor, after executing the jump instruction, starts fetching and decoding instructions at the new location (actually, it does it before executing the jump instruction; this is why branch prediction is so important). The instructions are fetched into a prefetch buffer and then decoded (more than one at a time). This buffer is always aligned by 16 or 32 bytes, depending on the exact processor model. If, for instance, the buffer is aligned by 16 and the new instruction pointer location is only 5 bytes before the next 16-bytes boundary, only these 5 bytes are decoded, and then the processor must fetch again. In this case instruction fetching will become a major bottleneck, making the entire loop run slowly.

It turns out that the Sandy Bridge has this buffer aligned by 32, as a result it benefits from loops being aligned by 32. Other processors require alignment by 16. The recommendation is not “always align by 32”; it is “compile for your target architecture”. Unfortunately, the version of GCC I use does not seem to have a switch “compile for Sandy Bridge”, that’s why manual specification of important parameters is required.

It is amazing how big a difference this makes – bigger than many real optimisations.

Is there any cost?

Aligning of functions is almost free. I say “almost”, because there are some second-order effects. Any increase in the code size makes caching less efficient. If less code fits into a memory page, more pages are required, which affects the initial page loading and slows down program start-up. It also affects TLB performance. But these are all minor effects. What’s important is that the alignment is achieved by inserting bytes that are not executed. The start of a function is just moved to the next aligned location.

Aligning of loops isn’t for free. Most loops are entered in a “fall through” way – the control naturally arrives to the start of the loop from the top, all preceding code being executed. Let’s have a look what this code looks like in our case (Dst_First_3). In e1-2:

(gdb) disassemble /r _ZNK11Dst_First_35demuxEPKhjPPh
Dump of assembler code for function Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const:
   0x0000000000400fe0 <+0>:     45 31 c9        xor    %r9d,%r9d
   0x0000000000400fe3 <+3>:     66 66 66 66 66 2e 0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00       data32 data32 data32 data32 nopw %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000400ff1 <+17>:    66 66 66 66 66 66 2e 0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00    data32 data32 data32 data32 data32 nopw %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000401000 <+32>:    44 89 ca        mov    %r9d,%edx
   0x0000000000401003 <+35>:    31 c0   xor    %eax,%eax
   0x0000000000401005 <+37>:    66 66 66 2e 0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00     data32 data32 nopw %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000401011 <+49>:    66 66 66 66 66 66 2e 0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00    data32 data32 data32 data32 data32 nopw %cs:0x0(%rax,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000401020 <+64>:    89 d7   mov    %edx,%edi
   0x0000000000401022 <+66>:    83 c2 20        add    $0x20,%edx
   0x0000000000401025 <+69>:    44 0f b6 04 3e  movzbl (%rsi,%rdi,1),%r8d
   0x000000000040102a <+74>:    4a 8b 3c c9     mov    (%rcx,%r9,8),%rdi
   0x000000000040102e <+78>:    44 88 04 07     mov    %r8b,(%rdi,%rax,1)
   0x0000000000401032 <+82>:    48 83 c0 01     add    $0x1,%rax
   0x0000000000401036 <+86>:    48 83 f8 40     cmp    $0x40,%rax
   0x000000000040103a <+90>:    75 e4   jne    0x401020 <Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+64>
   0x000000000040103c <+92>:    49 83 c1 01     add    $0x1,%r9
   0x0000000000401040 <+96>:    49 83 f9 20     cmp    $0x20,%r9
   0x0000000000401044 <+100>:   75 ba   jne    0x401000 <Dst_First_3::demux(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char**) const+32>
   0x0000000000401046 <+102>:   f3 c3   repz retq 
End of assembler dump.

The inner loop starts at 0x401020. It is preceded by two nopw instructions (0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00). Each of them has one cs: prefix (2e). One has three data32 prefixes (66), another one has five. In total these two instructions occupy 27 bytes: one takes 15 bytes and another one takes 12 bytes. These instructions don’t cause emitting any micro-operations, but they must still be fetched and decoded, and, as we’ve seen, fetching and decoding can be a bottleneck. If a loop executes just a few times, the penalty of entering the loop through the alignment code may be higher than the benefit of aligning the loop.

This is why “align your loops” isn’t a universal advice, and “align your loops by 32” is even less universal. This is a point where Java has advantage over C: the Java VM knows which loops are hot and which are not; in addition it knows the exact model of the processor the program runs on. C compilers don’t have this luxury.

By the way, the outer loop of our example is aligned as well, using even more bytes (29).

Other types of alignment

GNU C has two more switches controlling alignment:

Probably, the best way of using these options is to use them on specific files (by creating custom rules in make files), or even on specific functions (GNU C allows this by means of function attributes).

So what to do?

The C/C++ developers have a really hard time tuning their programs for target systems. Not only alignment is specific for processor models: the entire code generation process is specific. For instance, in the old days the best way to increment a variable by 1 was by using an inc instruction. These days add 1 is usually better, because inc causes a partial flag stall. In addition, processors differ in their support for the new features: AVX, FMA, popcnt instruction and so on. The programmers have limited options to choose from:

Fortunately, the problem is limited to the most performance-critical part of the system, and this part is usually small. Most code in production systems is the “glue” code (configuration, user interaction, health monitoring, etc.), which has very relaxed performance requirements.

Back to the original program

Let’s get back to our original e1.cpp and compile it with the alignment options:

$ c++ -O3 -falign-functions=32 -falign-loops=32 -o e1 e1.cpp -lrt
./e1
9Reference: 1932
11Src_First_1: 1488
11Src_First_2: 1338
11Src_First_3: 1891
11Dst_First_1: 1455
11Dst_First_2: 1454
11Dst_First_3: 1464
10Unrolled_1: 634
12Unrolled_1_2: 634
12Unrolled_1_4: 654
12Unrolled_1_8: 650
13Unrolled_1_16: 634
15Unrolled_2_Full: 635
10Unrolled_3: 633
10Unrolled_4: 653

The results look much more stable than before. Now we can remove Unrolled_3 and Unrolled4 (the code is here), which were found unnecessary in this article. I tried to do it then but faced exactly the same instability problem with Dst_First_1.

# c++ -O3  -falign-functions=32 -falign-loops=32 -o e1 e1.cpp -lrt
9Reference: 1939
11Src_First_1: 1488
11Src_First_2: 1341
11Src_First_3: 1891
11Dst_First_1: 1457
11Dst_First_2: 1454
11Dst_First_3: 1464
10Unrolled_1: 636
12Unrolled_1_2: 634
12Unrolled_1_4: 655
12Unrolled_1_8: 650
13Unrolled_1_16: 635
15Unrolled_2_Full: 635

Let’s collect the old and the new results, together with the results from Java, in one table:

Version Time in Java Old time in C New time in C
Reference 2860 1939 1939
Src_First_1 2481 1885 1488
Src_First_2 2284 1924 1341
Src_First_3 4360 1892 1891
Dst_First_1 1155 1467 1457
Dst_First_2 2093 1445 1454
Dst_First_3 1022 1761 1464
Unrolled_1 659 633 636
Unrolled_1_2 654 634 634
Unrolled_1_4 636 654 655
Unrolled_1_8 637 650 650
Unrolled_1_16 25904 635 635
Unrolled_2_Full 15630 635 635

Some observations:

Conclusions

Coming soon

Some versions in C++ are still slower than in Java . Why is that, and what can be done? Wait for new articles.

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