Main Content

Select and Configure C or C++ Compiler

The build process requires a supported compiler. Compiler, in this context, refers to a development environment containing a linker and make utility, and a high-level language compiler. For details on supported compiler versions, see:

When creating an executable program, the build process must be able to access a supported compiler. The build process can find a compiler to use based on your default MEX compiler.

The build process also requires the selection of a toolchain or template makefile. The toolchain or template makefile determines which compiler runs, during the make phase of the build. For more information, see Choose Build Approach and Configure Build Process

To determine which templates makefiles are available for your compiler and system target file, see Compare System Target File Support Across Products.

For both generated files and user-supplied files, the file extension, .c or .cpp, determines whether the build process uses a C or a C++ compiler. If the file extension is .c, the build process uses C compiler to compile the file, and the symbols use the C linkage convention. If the file extension is .cpp, the build process uses a C++ compiler to compile the file, and the symbols use the C++ linkage specification.

Language Standards Compliance

The code generator produces code that is compliant with the following standards:

LanguageSupported Standard
CISO®/IEC 9899:1990, also known as C89/C90
C++ISO/IEC 14882:2003

Code that the code generator produces from these sources is ANSI® C/C++ compliant:

  • Simulink® built-in block algorithmic code

  • Generated system-level code (task ID [TID] checks, management, functions, and so on)

  • Code from other blocksets, including the Fixed-Point Designer™ product and the Communications Toolbox™ product

  • Code from other code generators, such as MATLAB® functions

Also, the code generator can incorporate code from:

  • Embedded system target files (for example, startup code, device driver blocks)

  • Custom S-functions or TLC files


Coding standards for these two sources are beyond the control of the code generator. These standards can be a source for compliance problems, such as code that uses C99 features not supported in the ANSI C, C89/C90 subset.

Programming Language Considerations

The code generator produces C and C++ code. Consider the following as you choose a programming language:

  • Does your project require you to configure the code generator to use a specific compiler? C/C++ code generation on Windows® requires this selection.

  • Does your project require you to change the default language configuration setting for the model? See Select C or C++ Programming Language.

  • Does your project require you to integrate legacy or custom code with generated code? For a summary of integration options, see What Is External Code Integration?.

  • Does your project require you to integrate C and C++ code? If so, see What Is External Code Integration?.


    You can mix C and C++ code when integrating generated code with custom code. However, you must be aware of the differences between C and default C++ linkage conventions, and add the extern "C"' linkage specifier where required. For the details of the differing linkage conventions and how to apply extern "C", refer to a C++ programming language reference book.

  • Does your project require code generation support from other products? See C++ Language Support Limitations.

For C++ code generation examples with Stateflow®, see the sfcndemo_cppcount model or sf_cpp model.

C++ Language Support Limitations

To use C++ language support, you could need to configure the code generator to use a specific compiler. For example, if a supported compiler is not installed on your Microsoft® Windows computer, the default compiler is the lcc C compiler shipped with the MATLAB product. This compiler does not support C++. If you do not configure the code generator to use a C++ compiler before you specify C++ for code generation, the software produces an error message.

Code generator limitations on C++ support include:

  • The code generator does not support C++ code generation for the following:

    Simscape™ Driveline™
    Simscape Multibody™ First Generation (Simscape Multibody Second Generation is supported)
    Simscape Electrical™ Power Systems
    Simulink Real-Time™
  • For ERT and ERT-based system target files with Code interface packaging set to Nonreusable function, the following fields currently do not support the .cpp extension.

    • Data definition filename

    • Definition file for a data object, which is an object of the Simulink.Signal or Simulink.Parameter classes or their subclasses.

    If you specify a file name with a .c extension or with no extension and specify C++ for the code generation language, the code generator produces a .cpp file.

Code Generator Assumes Wrap on Signed Integer Overflows

The code generator reduces memory usage and enhances generated code execution by assuming signed integer C operations wrap on overflow. A signed integer overflow occurs when the result of an arithmetic operation is outside the range of values that the output data type can represent. The C programming language does not define the results of such operations. Some C compilers aggressively optimize signed operations for in-range values at the expense of overflow conditions. Other compilers preserve the full wrap-on-overflow behavior. For example, the gcc and MinGW compilers provide an option to wrap on overflow reliably for signed integer overflows. The generated program image for a model can produce results that differ from model simulation results because the handling of overflows varies, depending on your compiler.

When you generate code, if you use a supported compiler with the default options configured by the code generator, the compiler preserves the full wrap-on-overflow behavior. If you change the compiler options or compile the code in another development environment, it is possible that the compiler does not preserve the full wrap-on-overflow behavior. In this case, the executable program can produce unpredictable results.

If this issue is a concern for your application, consider one or more of the following actions:

  • Verify that the compiled code produces expected results.

  • If your compiler can force wrapping behavior, turn it on. For example, for the gcc compiler or a compiler based on gcc, such as MinGW, configure the build process to use the compiler option -fwrapv.

  • Choose a compiler that wraps on integer overflow.

  • If you have Embedded Coder installed, develop and apply a custom code replacement library to replace code generated for signed integers. For more information, see Code Replacement Customization.

Choose and Configure Compiler

To view the installed compilers and select the default compiler, in the Command Window, type:

mex -setup

On a Windows computer, you can install supported compilers and select a default compiler.

On a UNIX® platform, the default compiler is GNU® gcc/g++ for GNU or Xcode for Mac.

Unless the build approach configuration selects a specific compiler, the code generator uses the default compiler for the build process.

Primarily, the specified system target file determines the compiler that the code generator requires:

  • If you select a toolchain-based system target file such as grt.tlc (Generic Real-Time Target), ert.tlc (Embedded Coder®), or autosar.tlc (Embedded Coder for AUTOSAR), the Build process subpane displays configuration parameters for the build process. Use the Toolchain configuration parameter to select a compiler and associated tools for your model build. To validate the selected toolchain, click the Validate Toolchain.

  • If you select a template makefile (TMF) based system target file, such as rsim.tlc, the Build process subpane displays template makefile parameters for configuring the build process. The Template makefile parameter displays the default TMF file for the selected system target file. If the system target file supports compiler-specific template makefiles (for example, Rapid Simulation or S-Function system target files), you can set Template makefile to a compiler-specific TMF, such as rsim_lcc.tmf or rsim_unix.tmf. (See Compare System Target File Support Across Products for valid TMF names.)

If the generated code exceeds the 2 Gb static memory limit, a compiler error occurs. To resolve this issue:

  • For GRT-based system target files, set model configuration parameter Code interface packaging to Reusable function.

  • For ERT-based system target files, set model configuration parameter Code interface packaging to Reusable function and select parameter Use dynamic memory allocation for model initialization.

Include S-Function Source Code

When the code generator builds models with S-functions, source code for the S-functions can be either in the current folder or in the same folder as their MEX-file. The code generator adds an include path to the generated makefiles whenever it finds a file named sfncname.h in the same folder as the S-function MEX-file. This folder must be on the MATLAB path.

Similarly, the code generator adds a rule for the folder when it finds a file sfncname.c (or .cpp) in the same folder as the S-function MEX-file is in.

Related Topics

External Websites