4.1 Compiler intrinsics

Compiler intrinsics are functions provided by the compiler. They enable you to easily incorporate domain-specific operations in C and C++ source code without resorting to complex implementations in assembly language.

The C and C++ languages are suited to a wide variety of tasks but they do not provide in-built support for specific areas of application, for example, Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

Within a given application domain, there is usually a range of domain-specific operations that have to be performed frequently. However, often these operations cannot be efficiently implemented in C or C++. A typical example is the saturated add of two 32-bit signed two’s complement integers, commonly used in DSP programming. The following example shows a C implementation of saturated add operation

#include <limits.h>
int L_add(const int a, const int b)
    int c;
    c = a + b;
    if (((a ^ b) & INT_MIN) == 0)
        if ((c ^ a) & INT_MIN)
            c = (a < 0) ? INT_MIN : INT_MAX;
    return c;

Using compiler intrinsics, you can achieve more complete coverage of target architecture instructions than you would from the instruction selection of the compiler.

An intrinsic function has the appearance of a function call in C or C++, but is replaced during compilation by a specific sequence of low-level instructions. When implemented using an intrinsic, for example, the saturated add function previous example has the form:

#include <dspfns.h>    /* Include ETSI intrinsics */
int a, b, result;
result = L_add(a, b);  /* Saturated add of a and b */
Related concepts
4.5 Compiler intrinsics for controlling IRQ and FIQ interrupts
4.12 NEON intrinsics provided by the compiler
4.9 Compiler support for European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) basic operations
4.11 Texas Instruments (TI) C55x intrinsics for optimizing C code
Related reference
4.2 Performance benefits of compiler intrinsics
4.3 ARM assembler instruction intrinsics
10.148 ETSI basic operations
10.103 Instruction intrinsics
10.149 C55x intrinsics
18 Using NEON Support
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