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.
Without “-O”, the compiler only allocates variables declared register in registers. The resulting compiled code is a little worse than produced by PCC without “-O”.
With “-O”, the compiler tries to reduce code size and execution time.
When you specify “-O”, the compiler turns on “-fthread-jumps” and “-fdefer-pop” on all machines. The compiler turns on “-fdelayed-branch” on machines that have delay slots, and “-fomit-frame-pointer” on machines that can support debugging even without a frame pointer. On some machines the compiler also turns on other flags.
Optimize even more. The compiler 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 and function inlining. 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.
Optimize yet more. “-O3” turns on all optimizations specified by “-O2” and also turns on the “inline-functions” option.
Do not optimize.
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.
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 that 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.
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.
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.
The compiler 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.
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.
This option allows GCC to violate some ANSI or IEEE rules and/or specifications in the interest of optimizing code for speed. For example, it allows the compiler to assume arguments to the sqrt function are non-negative numbers and that no floating-point values are NaNs.
This option should never be turned on by any “-O” option since it can result in incorrect output for programs that depend on an exact implementation of IEEE or ANSI rules/specifications for math functions.
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.
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 that 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.
Perform a number of minor optimizations that are relatively expensive.
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.
Place each function into its own section in the output file if the target supports arbitrary sections. The function's name determines the section's name in the output file.
Use this option 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 this option when there are significant benefits from doing so. When you specify this option, 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 enabled by default on certain machines, usually those that have no call-preserved registers to use instead.
Perform the optimization of loop unrolling. This is only done for loops whose number of iterations can be determined at compile time or run time. “-funroll-loop” implies both “-fstrength-reduce” and “-frerun-cse-after-loop”.
Perform the optimization of loop unrolling. This is done for all loops and usually makes programs run more slowly. “-funroll-all-loops” implies “-fstrength-reduce” as well as “-frerun-cse-after-loop”.
Disable any machine-specific peephole optimizations.
After running a program compiled with “-fprofile-arcs” (see Section 1.7.), you can compile it a second time using “-fbranch-probabilities”, to improve optimizations based on guessing the path a branch might take.