Integer types with at least 64 bits have been a part of the C standard for a while now (they were added in C99, and were a standard extension in many 32-bit compilers before that). But have you ever wondered what exactly happens when you use them?

Consider the following function (substitute long long with __int64 if you are using an older version of Visual C++):

long long div64(long long x, long long y)
        return x / y;

let’s first have a look at what the VC 64-bit compiler gives us:

    mov   r8, rdx
    mov   rax, rcx
    idiv  r8

Pretty much what you would expect, a little setup and an idiv instruction to perform the division. Now let’s try the VC 32-bit compiler:

_x$ = 8
_y$ = 16
    mov   eax, _y$[esp]
    mov   ecx, _y$[esp-4]
    mov   edx, _x$[esp]
    push  eax
    mov   eax, _x$[esp]
    push  ecx
    push  edx
    push  eax
    call  __alldiv

A little setup and .. a call?

The thing is, 32-bit x86 only has instructions for mixed mode 32/64 bit operations – with one assembly instruction you can multiply two 32-bit integers to get a 64-bit result, or you can divide a 64-bit integer by a 32-bit as long as the quotient fits in 32 bits. But to divide two 64-bit integers, you have to emulate the operation in software.

That is where the _alldiv function comes in. It is a support function in the C runtime library that performs a 64-bit divide. In fact there is a whole family of such functions to do multiply, divide and shifts on 64-bit numbers (addition and subtraction are inlined since they only require two assembly instructions).

Other compilers do likewise, for instance GCC calls __divdi3 to perform 64-bit division.

It is important to be aware of this, because using long long instead of int means that arithmetic operations you probably expect to be single instructions, all of a sudden become library calls who’s execution time can depend on the arguments.

As an example, I timed a simple implementation of the extended Euclidean algorithm with 32- and 64-bit integers. Compiling with the VC 32-bit compiler, the 64-bit version was roughly 3 times slower (depending on the CPU).