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Efficient C++ Performance Programming Techniques by David Mayhew, Dov Bulka

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Introduction

In the days of assembler language programming, experienced programmers estimated the execution speed of their source code by counting the number of assembly language instructions. On some architectures, such as RISC, most assembler instructions executed in one clock cycle each. Other architectures featured wide variations in instruction to instruction execution speed, but experienced programmers were able to develop a good feel for average instruction latency. If you knew how many instructions your code fragment contained, you could estimate with accuracy the number of clock cycles their execution would consume. The mapping from source code to assembler was trivially one-to-one. The assembler code was the source code.

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