[cfe-dev] Documentation of flags affecting the performance of generated binaries

Gonzalo BG gonzalobg88 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 12 05:02:02 PDT 2014


in 20543 [0] I requested documentation about the clang front-end flags that
might affect the program performance since these are not documented in the
docs [1]. Following a request in [0] I would like to start a discussion

What to include and exclude from such a documentation page.

Once this is decided, that documentation can be written and submitted for
further discussion and revision. This documentation could go in [1]
under "Language and Target-Independent Features" in the subsection
"Controlling code generation" or in a different subsection (options like -g
which _might_ affect the performance of a generated binary are already
documented in their own subsections here).

Documentation that is currently missing in [1] and that in my opinion is

(all this points are debatable and some debate has already happened in
bugzilla, this is just the best starting point for a discussion that I
could come up with)

1) Optimization levels: What optimization levels are there (O0-4, Ofast,
Os, ...)? What is their intended usage? Typically they are equivalent to
passing a series of command line arguments to the compiler, which arguments
does each optimization level passes?

2) Description of the command line arguments that might affect the
performance of the generated binary such as -flto, -fstrict-aliasing,
-fvectorize, -fvectorize-aggressive as well as those passed by the
optimization levels. In particular:
- What does each of these commands do?
- Are they enabled by an optimization level? If so, by which ones?

I would like to also have documentation here for commands that can affect
performance but don't affect the optimizer per se such as
or even -DNDEBUG (debatable but it is a macro of special significance that
controls, among others, the behavior of <cassert>, although it has nothing
to do with the compiler itself).

3) Controlling target-specific code generation: -march=native/-mtune=native
and related options. I don't know much about these and can't find
documentation about them anywhere in the clang docs.

4) A mention of the existence of the LLVM-Opt with link to their
documentation with a description about how to pass options to it directly
and a warning that doing this is not recommended and that this options are
not officially supported by clang and can change anytime. It is debatable
wether some of these deserve special mention, e.g., sadly -mllvm
-inline-threshold=value can have a huge impact on performance.

5) Document those "performance-related" flags that do nothing but pass
silently to achieve, e.g., gcc/msvsc compatibility.


[0] http://llvm.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=20543
[1] http://clang.llvm.org/docs/UsersManual.html
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