9.5. register

The register storage class is used as a hint to the compiler that a variable is heavily used and access to it should be optimised if possible. Variables are usually stored in normal memory (RAM) and passed back and forth to the computers processor as needed, the speed the data is sent at is pretty fast but can be improved on. Almost all computer processors contain cpu registers, these are memory slots on the actual processor, storing data there gets rid of the overhead of retrieving the data from normal memory. This memory is quite small compared to normal memory though so only a few variables can be stored there. GCC will always make use of registers by deciding what variables it thinks will be accessed often, this works well but will never be perfect because GCC doesn't know the purpose of your program. By using the register keyword you can tell GCC what needs to be optimised.

One problem with placing a variable into a cpu register is that you can't get a pointer to it, pointers can only point to normal memory. Because of this restriction GCC will ignore the register keyword on variables whos address is taken at any point in the program.

The resulting program will contain a request, on creation of the variable that it be placed in a cpu register, the operating system may ignore or honour this request.