Mastering RDTSC: Tips and Tricks for Linux, ARM, and x86 Instruction
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RDTSC: The Gangster Way to Measure CPU Clock Cycles

Yo dawg, you ever heard of RDTSC? This slick little instruction is the gangster way to measure CPU clock cycles on your computer. You might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about, but don’t worry homie, I got your back.

What is RDTSC?

RDTSC stands for Read Time-Stamp Counter and it’s an instruction that reads the current value of the processor’s Time-Stamp Counter (TSC). The TSC is a 64-bit register that counts the number of clock cycles since the CPU was last reset. RDTSC is a badass way to measure the performance of your code or to benchmark different hardware configurations.

How to use RDTSC

Using RDTSC is as easy as pie, dawg. All you gotta do is call the instruction in your code and it’ll return the current value of the TSC. Here’s a sample code snippet in C++:

uint64_t start = __rdtsc();
// Your code here
uint64_t end = __rdtsc();
uint64_t elapsed = end - start;

In this code, we call RDTSC twice to get the start and end values of the TSC, then we calculate the elapsed time by subtracting the start from the end.

RDTSC on different architectures

RDTSC is a real gangsta instruction dawg, and it’s available on most x86 processors. However, it’s not available on all architectures, so you gotta be careful when using it. For example, RDTSC is not available on ARM processors, so if you’re coding for a Raspberry Pi or an iPhone, you gotta use a different instruction like LDRD or MCRR.

RDTSC and Linux

If you’re a Linux-savvy homie, you might be wondering how to use RDTSC on your favourite operating system. Well, don’t worry dawg, Linux supports RDTSC out of the box. You can call the __rdtsc() function from the x86intrin.h header file in your code and you’re good to go.

RDTSC pitfalls and gotchas

Now, don’t be fooled dawg, RDTSC is not perfect. There are a few things you gotta be careful about when using it. For example, RDTSC is a non-serializing instruction, which means it might get executed out of order if you have multiple processors or threads running. This can lead to inaccurate measurements, so you gotta be careful. Also, the TSC can be affected by various factors like CPU frequency scaling, so you gotta watch out for that too.


RDTSC is a badass instruction that lets you measure the performance of your code like a real gangster. You can use it to benchmark your hardware, optimize your code, or just impress your friends. However, you gotta be careful when using it and watch out for the pitfalls and gotchas. So next time someone asks you about RDTSC, you can puff out your chest and say Yeah dawg, I know all about it.

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