Reducing indirect function call overhead in C++ programs

Brad Calder, Dirk Grunwald
1994 Proceedings of the 21st ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT symposium on Principles of programming languages - POPL '94  
Modern computer architectures increasingly depend on mechanisms that estimate fhture control flow decisions to increase performance. Mechanisms such as speculative execution and prefetching are becoming standard architectural mechanisms that rely on control flow prediction to prefetch and speculatively execute future instructions. At the same time, computer programmers are increasingly turning to object-oriented languages to increase their productivity. These languages commonly use run time
more » ... atching to implement object polymorphism. Dispatching is usually implemented using an indirect finction call, which presents challenges to existing control flow prediction techniques. We have measured the occurrence of indirect function calls in a collection of C++ programs. We show that, although it is more important to predict branches accurately, indirect call prediction is also an important factor in some programs and will grow in importance with the growth of object-oriented programming. We examine the improvement offered by compile-time optimization and static and dynamic prediction techniques, and demonstrate how compilers can use existing branch prediction mechanisms to improve performance in C++ programs. Using these methods with the programs we examined, the number of instructions between mispredicted breaks in control can be doubled on existing computers.
doi:10.1145/174675.177973 dblp:conf/popl/CalderG94 fatcat:bthshjuepzewzinddpt37f7xny