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Qt/Embedded Performance Tuning


When building embedded applications on low-powered devices, a number of options are available that would not be considered in a desktop application environment. These options reduce the memory and/or CPU requirements at the cost of other factors.

General programming style

The following guidelines will improve CPU performance:

Static vs. Dynamic linking

Much CPU and memory is used by the ELF linking process. You can make significant savings by using a static build of your application suite. This means that rather than having a dynamic library (libqte.so) and a collection of executables which link dynamically to that library, you build all the applications into a single executable and statically link that with a static library (libqt.a). This improves start-up time, and reduces memory usage, at the expense of flexibility (to add a new application, you must recompile the single executable) and robustness (if one application has a bug, it might harm other applications). If you need to install end-user applications, this may not be an option, but if you are building a single application suite for a device with limited CPU power and memory, this option could be very beneficial.

To compile Qt as a static library, add the -static options when you run configure.

To build your application suite as an all-in-one application, design each application as a stand-alone widget or set of widgets, with only minimal code in the main() function. Then, write an application that gives some way to choose among the applications (eg. a QIconView). The QPE is an example of this - it can be built either as a set of dynamically-linked executables, or as a single static application.

Note that you should generally still link dynamically against the standard C library and any other libraries which might be used by other applications on your device.

Alternative memory allocation

We have found that the libraries shipped with some C++ compilers on some platforms have poor performance in the built-in "new" and "delete" operators. You might gain performance by re-implementing these functions. For example, you can switch to the plain C allocators by adding the following to your code:

void* operator new[](size_t size)
{
    return malloc(size);
}

void* operator new(size_t size)
{
    return malloc(size);
}

void operator delete[](void* p)
{
    free(p);
}

void operator delete[](void* p, size_t size)
{
    free(p);
}

void operator delete(void* p)
{
    free(p);
}

void operator delete(void* p, size_t size)
{
    free(p);
}


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Qt version 2.3.10