Willus.com's 2011 Win32/64 C Compiler Benchmarks:
2. The Compilers
I used compilers from six different companies/groups/individuals,
choosing two commercial ones where I had access to either a free version
(Microsoft Visual C/C++ 2010 via Windows 7 SDK) or a 30-day trial version (Intel).
I felt I had to include Microsoft and Intel because they are simply the
de-facto standard compiler
and standard high-performance compiler, respectively, for Windows programming
on Intel chips. Intel is
used on a vast number of
SPEC CPU 2006
results submissions, including the ones with the top results on Intel CPUs.
To keep things interesting, I added the latest version of gcc (a pre-release
v4.6.3 from mingw64.org)
and a version of gcc from the 3.x branch in order to compare the 4.x and 3.x branches.
I tried Walter Bright's Digital Mars again,
although it is long in the tooth (last release date was in 2004), and I rounded things
out with the smallest and fastest compiling compiler of the group,
Bellard's Tiny CC. Mainly for me, though, I wanted to see how much
progress, if any, has been made by gcc against Intel since gcc is my
day-to-day compiler of choice. All of these compilers
are discussed more on my Win32 C/C++ Compilers page.
I've color coded them in the tables so that they are easily distinguished.
Click on a column heading to sort the rows based on the data in that column.
[Update, 4-7-12: I tried Open Watcom
(v1.9) this weekend without much success.
It failed to compile and/or run correctly three of the first five benchmarks I tried, and
those were ones that I considered the easier ones (least code). It has the
feel of a compiler that stopped serious development shortly after the introduction of
the Pentium Pro CPU, based on the CPU tuning options. On the two benchmarks
that compiled and ran (bzip2 and transcend), it scored about the same as
Digital Mars in both compile-time and run-time performance. I will say that
the setup program is very good and the installation fairly compact (took up
only 50 MiB with the options I chose).]
May 29, 2009
||The most compact and the fastest compiler of the group--excellent for use in
scripts, but not good for high-performance compiled code (it has no
command-line optimization options). This is the only compiler in the group that does not
also compile C++ code. It also lacks some Windows API support.
||A very compact and solid offering from Digital Mars, but a bit dated and showing its
age in terms of some limitations, incompatibility with newer Windows APIs, and
compiled executable performance. The actual compiler executable (dmc.exe)
claims that its version number is 8.42n, but the package says it is version 8.52.
|MinGW (gcc 4.6.3)
Dec 9, 2011
||Version 4.6.3 of gcc for Win32/64--the very latest available for this review and
my current compiler of choice for work and home projects.
|MinGW (gcc 3.4.2)
Sept 6, 2004
||Version 3.4.2 of gcc for the PC.
|Microsoft Visual C/C++ 2010
||The reigning PC standard. A compiler benchmark isn't complete without
including Visual C.
The Windows 7 SDK
is freely downloadable at download.microsoft.com
(you'll also want
VC++ 2010 SP1,
.Net Framework 4
and comes with 32-bit and 64-bit Visual C/C++ 2010.
Interestingly, the 64-bit version of the compiler doesn't allow the /arch:SSE2
flag. I don't know if this is because all x64 CPUs have SSE2 and therefore
they turn it on by default, or if they simply haven't implemented it yet, but
the 64-bit exes don't show as much average performance improvement with MS VC as they do
with Intel and gcc. They do have /arch:AVX, but I couldn't test that because
I don't have a Sandybridge CPU.
Oct 11, 2011
||Big footprint, but big performance. Intel is far and away the most-used
compiler for SPEC CPU benchmarks. Frustratingly, even after you install
some 40 packages that take up massive amounts of disk space, you're still
You also have to install Microsoft's C/C++ compiler. I used a 30-day full-capability
version of Intel's compiler along with Microsoft's free 2010 Express version.