[SOLVED] How to do unsigned saturating addition in C?


What is the best (cleanest, most efficient) way to write saturating addition in C?

The function or macro should add two unsigned inputs (need both 16- and 32-bit versions) and return all-bits-one (0xFFFF or 0xFFFFFFFF) if the sum overflows.

Target is x86 and ARM using gcc (4.1.2) and Visual Studio (for simulation only, so a fallback implementation is OK there).


You probably want portable C code here, which your compiler will turn into proper ARM assembly. ARM has conditional moves, and these can be conditional on overflow. The algorithm then becomes: add and conditionally set the destination to unsigned(-1), if overflow was detected.

uint16_t add16(uint16_t a, uint16_t b)
  uint16_t c = a + b;
  if (c < a)  /* Can only happen due to overflow */
    c = -1;
  return c;

Note that this differs from the other algorithms in that it corrects overflow, instead of relying on another calculation to detect overflow.

x86-64 clang 3.7 -O3 output for adds32: significantly better than any other answer:

add     edi, esi
mov     eax, -1
cmovae  eax, edi

ARMv7: gcc 4.8 -O3 -mcpu=cortex-a15 -fverbose-asm output for adds32:

adds    r0, r0, r1      @ c, a, b
it      cs
movcs   r0, #-1         @ conditional-move
bx      lr

16bit: still doesn’t use ARM’s unsigned-saturating add instruction (UADD16)

add     r1, r1, r0        @ tmp114, a
movw    r3, #65535      @ tmp116,
uxth    r1, r1  @ c, tmp114
cmp     r0, r1    @ a, c
ite     ls        @
movls   r0, r1        @,, c
movhi   r0, r3        @,, tmp116
bx      lr  @

Answered By – MSalters

Answer Checked By – Terry (BugsFixing Volunteer)

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