GCC optimization re-order statements

David Brown david.brown@hesbynett.no
Sat Jun 12 11:46:14 GMT 2021

On 12/06/2021 03:45, Segher Boessenkool wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 01:56:40PM +0200, David Brown wrote:
>> If the compiler knows that on the target in question, it is perfectly
>> safe (i.e., no signals or anything else) to dereference a null pointer,
>> then in your original "f" the compiler could read *p before it tests p
>> for null, but it could not do the printf before the test.  (Sometimes
>> for embedded systems the compiler knows that reading via a null pointer
>> is safe.)
> But note that this is undefined behaviour in standard C (a null pointer
> is required to compare unequal to any pointer to any object or function
> (, and the indirection operator on any operand that does not
> point to a function or object is undefined behaviour (
> It can be extremely useful to do support this, of course :-)

It is undefined behaviour in the standard, but it is supported in some
compilers.  (To be honest, I can't remember if it is supported in any
gcc targets.)  In some microcontrollers for small embedded systems,
address 0 is part of the ram - and if you only have 1 KB ram, you don't
want to waste a byte as inaccessible.  On some microcontrollers I have
used, address 0 is part of the hardware registers for controlling pins,
peripherals, etc.  And often it is part of the flash and you might want
to read that for doing CRC checks or other integrity checks.  Of course,
in many of these cases you would (or could) use volatile accesses, and
the compiler will never mess with those.

There are also a few systems where reading address 0 is guaranteed to
return 0, or guaranteed to cause a fault.  Compilers might have modified
behaviour to take that into account (since the standards don't impose
any requirements about how accessing address 0 works).

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