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7.1.5 Inlining of Subprograms

A call to a subprogram in the current unit is inlined if all the following conditions are met:

Calls to subprograms in with'ed units are normally not inlined. To achieve actual inlining (that is, replacement of the call by the code in the body of the subprogram), the following conditions must all be true.

Even if all these conditions are met, it may not be possible for the compiler to inline the call, due to the length of the body, or features in the body that make it impossible for the compiler to do the inlining.

Note that specifying the -gnatn switch causes additional compilation dependencies. Consider the following:


package R is procedure Q; pragma Inline (Q); end R; package body R is ... end R; with R; procedure Main is begin ... R.Q; end Main;

With the default behavior (no -gnatn switch specified), the compilation of the Main procedure depends only on its own source, main.adb, and the spec of the package in file This means that editing the body of R does not require recompiling Main.

On the other hand, the call R.Q is not inlined under these circumstances. If the -gnatn switch is present when Main is compiled, the call will be inlined if the body of Q is small enough, but now Main depends on the body of R in r.adb as well as on the spec. This means that if this body is edited, the main program must be recompiled. Note that this extra dependency occurs whether or not the call is in fact inlined by gcc.

The use of front end inlining with -gnatN generates similar additional dependencies.

Note: The -fno-inline switch can be used to prevent all inlining. This switch overrides all other conditions and ensures that no inlining occurs. The extra dependences resulting from -gnatn will still be active, even if this switch is used to suppress the resulting inlining actions.

Note: The -fno-inline-functions switch can be used to prevent automatic inlining of subprograms if -O3 is used.

Note: The -fno-inline-small-functions switch can be used to prevent automatic inlining of small subprograms if -O2 is used.

Note: The -fno-inline-functions-called-once switch can be used to prevent inlining of subprograms local to the unit and called once from within it if -O1 is used.

Note regarding the use of -O3: There is no difference in inlining behavior between -O2 and -O3 for subprograms with an explicit pragma Inline assuming the use of -gnatn or -gnatN (the switches that activate inlining). If you have used pragma Inline in appropriate cases, then it is usually much better to use -O2 and -gnatn and avoid the use of -O3 which in this case only has the effect of inlining subprograms you did not think should be inlined. We often find that the use of -O3 slows down code by performing excessive inlining, leading to increased instruction cache pressure from the increased code size. So the bottom line here is that you should not automatically assume that -O3 is better than -O2, and indeed you should use -O3 only if tests show that it actually improves performance.