Optimized build of the compiler

There are multiple additional build configuration options and techniques that can used to compile a build of rustc that is as optimized as possible (for example when building rustc for a Linux distribution). The status of these configuration options for various Rust targets is tracked here. This page describes how you can use these approaches when building rustc yourself.

Link-time optimization is a powerful compiler technique that can increase program performance. To enable (Thin-)LTO when building rustc, set the rust.lto config option to "thin" in config.toml:

lto = "thin"

Note that LTO for rustc is currently supported and tested only for the x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu target. Other targets may work, but no guarantees are provided. Notably, LTO-optimized rustc currently produces miscompilations on Windows.

Enabling LTO on Linux has produced speed-ups by up to 10%.

Memory allocator

Using a different memory allocator for rustc can provide significant performance benefits. If you want to enable the jemalloc allocator, you can set the rust.jemalloc option to true in config.toml:

jemalloc = true

Note that this option is currently only supported for Linux and macOS targets.

Codegen units

Reducing the amount of codegen units per rustc crate can produce a faster build of the compiler. You can modify the number of codegen units for rustc and libstd in config.toml with the following options:

codegen-units = 1
codegen-units-std = 1

Instruction set

By default, rustc is compiled for a generic (and conservative) instruction set architecture (depending on the selected target), to make it support as many CPUs as possible. If you want to compile rustc for a specific instruction set architecture, you can set the target_cpu compiler option in RUSTFLAGS:

RUSTFLAGS="-C target_cpu=x86-64-v3" ./x build ...

If you also want to compile LLVM for a specific instruction set, you can set llvm flags in config.toml:

cxxflags = "-march=x86-64-v3"
cflags = "-march=x86-64-v3"

Profile-guided optimization

Applying profile-guided optimizations (or more generally, feedback-directed optimizations) can produce a large increase to rustc performance, by up to 15% (1, 2). However, these techniques are not simply enabled by a configuration option, but rather they require a complex build workflow that compiles rustc multiple times and profiles it on selected benchmarks.

There is a tool called opt-dist that is used to optimize rustc with PGO (profile-guided optimizations) and BOLT (a post-link binary optimizer) for builds distributed to end users. You can examine the tool, which is located in src/tools/opt-dist, and build a custom PGO build workflow based on it, or try to use it directly. Note that the tool is currently quite hardcoded to the way we use it in Rust's continuous integration workflows, and it might require some custom changes to make it work in a different environment.

To use the tool, you will need to provide some external dependencies:

  • A Python3 interpreter (for executing x.py).
  • Compiled LLVM toolchain, with the llvm-profdata binary. Optionally, if you want to use BOLT, the llvm-bolt and merge-fdata binaries have to be available in the toolchain.

These dependencies are provided to opt-dist by an implementation of the Environment struct. It specifies directories where will the PGO/BOLT pipeline take place, and also external dependencies like Python or LLVM.

Here is an example of how can opt-dist be used locally (outside of CI):

  1. Build the tool with the following command:
    ./x build tools/opt-dist
  2. Run the tool with the local mode and provide necessary parameters:
    ./build/host/stage0-tools-bin/opt-dist local \
      --target-triple <target> \ # select target, e.g. "x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu"
      --checkout-dir <path>    \ # path to rust checkout, e.g. "."
      --llvm-dir <path>        \ # path to built LLVM toolchain, e.g. "/foo/bar/llvm/install"
      -- python3 x.py dist       # pass the actual build command
    You can run --help to see further parameters that you can modify.

Note: if you want to run the actual CI pipeline, instead of running opt-dist locally, you can execute DEPLOY=1 src/ci/docker/run.sh dist-x86_64-linux.