GCC 4.3 and -O3

I recently upgraded an Opteron server to Debian/Lenny to get GCC 4.3 for OpenMP reasons. It turns out that my code, namely matrix multiplication as implemented in the M4RI library, ran much slower than when compiled with GCC 4.1. For instance, to multiply two $20,000 \times 20,000$ random matrices took 18.38 seconds with GCC 4.1 but 21.00 seconds with GCC 4.3.1 and to multiply two $32,000 \times 32,000$ random matrices took 70.24 seconds with GCC 4.1 but 80.00 second with GCC 4.3.1. Eventually, I checked the highlevel changelog and found: “The -ftree-vectorize option is now on by default under -O3. In order to generate code for a SIMD extension, it has to be enabled as well: use -maltivec for PowerPC platforms and -msse/-msse2 for i?86 and x86_64.” However, we don’t use SSE2 on the Opteron since it is slower than the standard instruction set for this application. Passing -no-tree-vectorize to the compiler fixed the problem. However, to my surprise -O2 didn’t come with a speed penalty either, so I settled for this. The final timings on my Opteron server are:

64-bit Debian/GNU Linux, 2.6Ghz Opteron (Virtualised)
M4RI GCC 4.3
(64-bit, 4 cores)
M4RI GCC 4.3
(64-bit, 1 core)
M4RI GCC 4.1
(64-bit, 1 core)
Magma 2.14-13
(64-bit, 1 core)
20000×20000 6.36 17.81 18.38 18.35
32000×32000 26.65 68.01 70.24 68.01

I suppose the moral of the story is: -O3 isn’t necessarily better than -O2 just because 3>2.

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