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Using the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC)

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5.32 Specifying Attributes of Variables

The keyword __attribute__ allows you to specify special attributes of variables or structure fields. This keyword is followed by an attribute specification inside double parentheses. Ten attributes are currently defined for variables: aligned, mode, nocommon, packed, section, transparent_union, unused, deprecated, vector_size, and weak. Some other attributes are defined for variables on particular target systems. Other attributes are available for functions (see section 5.25 Declaring Attributes of Functions) and for types (see section 5.33 Specifying Attributes of Types). Other front ends might define more attributes (see section Extensions to the C++ Language).

You may also specify attributes with `__' preceding and following each keyword. This allows you to use them in header files without being concerned about a possible macro of the same name. For example, you may use __aligned__ instead of aligned.

See section 5.26 Attribute Syntax, for details of the exact syntax for using attributes.

aligned (alignment)
This attribute specifies a minimum alignment for the variable or structure field, measured in bytes. For example, the declaration:

 
int x __attribute__ ((aligned (16))) = 0;

causes the compiler to allocate the global variable x on a 16-byte boundary. On a 68040, this could be used in conjunction with an asm expression to access the move16 instruction which requires 16-byte aligned operands.

You can also specify the alignment of structure fields. For example, to create a double-word aligned int pair, you could write:

 
struct foo { int x[2] __attribute__ ((aligned (8))); };

This is an alternative to creating a union with a double member that forces the union to be double-word aligned.

As in the preceding examples, you can explicitly specify the alignment (in bytes) that you wish the compiler to use for a given variable or structure field. Alternatively, you can leave out the alignment factor and just ask the compiler to align a variable or field to the maximum useful alignment for the target machine you are compiling for. For example, you could write:

 
short array[3] __attribute__ ((aligned));

Whenever you leave out the alignment factor in an aligned attribute specification, the compiler automatically sets the alignment for the declared variable or field to the largest alignment which is ever used for any data type on the target machine you are compiling for. Doing this can often make copy operations more efficient, because the compiler can use whatever instructions copy the biggest chunks of memory when performing copies to or from the variables or fields that you have aligned this way.

The aligned attribute can only increase the alignment; but you can decrease it by specifying packed as well. See below.

Note that the effectiveness of aligned attributes may be limited by inherent limitations in your linker. On many systems, the linker is only able to arrange for variables to be aligned up to a certain maximum alignment. (For some linkers, the maximum supported alignment may be very very small.) If your linker is only able to align variables up to a maximum of 8 byte alignment, then specifying aligned(16) in an __attribute__ will still only provide you with 8 byte alignment. See your linker documentation for further information.

mode (mode)
This attribute specifies the data type for the declaration--whichever type corresponds to the mode mode. This in effect lets you request an integer or floating point type according to its width.

You may also specify a mode of `byte' or `__byte__' to indicate the mode corresponding to a one-byte integer, `word' or `__word__' for the mode of a one-word integer, and `pointer' or `__pointer__' for the mode used to represent pointers.

nocommon
This attribute specifies requests GCC not to place a variable "common" but instead to allocate space for it directly. If you specify the `-fno-common' flag, GCC will do this for all variables.

Specifying the nocommon attribute for a variable provides an initialization of zeros. A variable may only be initialized in one source file.

packed
The packed attribute specifies that a variable or structure field should have the smallest possible alignment--one byte for a variable, and one bit for a field, unless you specify a larger value with the aligned attribute.

Here is a structure in which the field x is packed, so that it immediately follows a:

 
struct foo
{
  char a;
  int x[2] __attribute__ ((packed));
};

section ("section-name")
Normally, the compiler places the objects it generates in sections like data and bss. Sometimes, however, you need additional sections, or you need certain particular variables to appear in special sections, for example to map to special hardware. The section attribute specifies that a variable (or function) lives in a particular section. For example, this small program uses several specific section names:

 
struct duart a __attribute__ ((section ("DUART_A"))) = { 0 };
struct duart b __attribute__ ((section ("DUART_B"))) = { 0 };
char stack[10000] __attribute__ ((section ("STACK"))) = { 0 };
int init_data __attribute__ ((section ("INITDATA"))) = 0;

main()
{
  /* Initialize stack pointer */
  init_sp (stack + sizeof (stack));

  /* Initialize initialized data */
  memcpy (&init_data, &data, &edata - &data);

  /* Turn on the serial ports */
  init_duart (&a);
  init_duart (&b);
}

Use the section attribute with an initialized definition of a global variable, as shown in the example. GCC issues a warning and otherwise ignores the section attribute in uninitialized variable declarations.

You may only use the section attribute with a fully initialized global definition because of the way linkers work. The linker requires each object be defined once, with the exception that uninitialized variables tentatively go in the common (or bss) section and can be multiply "defined". You can force a variable to be initialized with the `-fno-common' flag or the nocommon attribute.

Some file formats do not support arbitrary sections so the section attribute is not available on all platforms. If you need to map the entire contents of a module to a particular section, consider using the facilities of the linker instead.

shared
On Windows NT, in addition to putting variable definitions in a named section, the section can also be shared among all running copies of an executable or DLL. For example, this small program defines shared data by putting it in a named section shared and marking the section shareable:

 
int foo __attribute__((section ("shared"), shared)) = 0;

int
main()
{
  /* Read and write foo.  All running
     copies see the same value.  */
  return 0;
}

You may only use the shared attribute along with section attribute with a fully initialized global definition because of the way linkers work. See section attribute for more information.

The shared attribute is only available on Windows NT.

transparent_union
This attribute, attached to a function parameter which is a union, means that the corresponding argument may have the type of any union member, but the argument is passed as if its type were that of the first union member. For more details see See section 5.33 Specifying Attributes of Types. You can also use this attribute on a typedef for a union data type; then it applies to all function parameters with that type.

unused
This attribute, attached to a variable, means that the variable is meant to be possibly unused. GCC will not produce a warning for this variable.

deprecated
The deprecated attribute results in a warning if the variable is used anywhere in the source file. This is useful when identifying variables that are expected to be removed in a future version of a program. The warning also includes the location of the declaration of the deprecated variable, to enable users to easily find further information about why the variable is deprecated, or what they should do instead. Note that the warnings only occurs for uses:

 
extern int old_var __attribute__ ((deprecated));
extern int old_var;
int new_fn () { return old_var; }

results in a warning on line 3 but not line 2.

The deprecated attribute can also be used for functions and types (see section 5.25 Declaring Attributes of Functions, see section 5.33 Specifying Attributes of Types.)

vector_size (bytes)
This attribute specifies the vector size for the variable, measured in bytes. For example, the declaration:

 
int foo __attribute__ ((vector_size (16)));

causes the compiler to set the mode for foo, to be 16 bytes, divided into int sized units. Assuming a 32-bit int (a vector of 4 units of 4 bytes), the corresponding mode of foo will be V4SI.

This attribute is only applicable to integral and float scalars, although arrays, pointers, and function return values are allowed in conjunction with this construct.

Aggregates with this attribute are invalid, even if they are of the same size as a corresponding scalar. For example, the declaration:

 
struct S { int a; };
struct S  __attribute__ ((vector_size (16))) foo;

is invalid even if the size of the structure is the same as the size of the int.

weak
The weak attribute is described in See section 5.25 Declaring Attributes of Functions.

model (model-name)
Use this attribute on the M32R/D to set the addressability of an object. The identifier model-name is one of small, medium, or large, representing each of the code models.

Small model objects live in the lower 16MB of memory (so that their addresses can be loaded with the ld24 instruction).

Medium and large model objects may live anywhere in the 32-bit address space (the compiler will generate seth/add3 instructions to load their addresses).

To specify multiple attributes, separate them by commas within the double parentheses: for example, `__attribute__ ((aligned (16), packed))'.


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