The - surprisingly limited - usefulness of function multiversioning in GCC

12 minute read Published:

Modern CPUs have quite a few features that generic amd64/intel64 code cannot make use of, simply because they are not available everywhere and including them would break the code on unsupporting platforms. The solution is to not use these features, or ship different specialised binaries for different target CPUs. The problem with the first approach is that you miss out on possible optimisations and the problem with the second approach is that most users don’t know which features their CPUs support, possibly picking a wrong executable (which won’t run → bad user experience) or a less optimised one (which is again problem 1). But there is an elegant GCC-specific alternative: Function multiversioning!