Using C# 7.2 in modifier for parameters with primitive types

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C# 7.2 introduced the in modifier for passing arguments by reference with the guarantee that the recipient will not modify the parameter.

This article says:

You should never use a non-readonly struct as the in parameters because it may negatively affect performance and could lead to an obscure behavior if the struct is mutable

What does this mean for built-in primitives such as int, double?

I would like to use in to express intent in code, but not at the cost of performance losses to defensive copies.


  • Is it safe to pass primitive types via in arguments and not have defensive copies made?
  • Are other commonly used framework structs such as DateTime, TimeSpan, Guid, ... considered readonly by the JIT?
    • If this varies by platform, how can we find out which types are safe in a given situation?


A quick test shows that, currently, yes, a defensive copy is created for built-in primitive types and structs.

Compiling the following code with VS 2017 (.NET 4.5.2, C# 7.2, release build):

using System;  class MyClass {     public readonly struct Immutable { public readonly int I; public void SomeMethod() { } }     public struct Mutable { public int I; public void SomeMethod() { } }      public void Test(Immutable immutable, Mutable mutable, int i, DateTime dateTime)     {         InImmutable(immutable);         InMutable(mutable);         InInt32(i);         InDateTime(dateTime);     }      void InImmutable(in Immutable x) { x.SomeMethod(); }     void InMutable(in Mutable x) { x.SomeMethod(); }     void InInt32(in int x) { x.ToString(); }     void InDateTime(in DateTime x) { x.ToString(); }      public static void Main(string[] args) { } } 

yields the following result when decompiled with ILSpy:

... private void InImmutable([System.Runtime.CompilerServices.IsReadOnly] [In] ref MyClass.Immutable x) {     x.SomeMethod(); }  private void InMutable([System.Runtime.CompilerServices.IsReadOnly] [In] ref MyClass.Mutable x) {     MyClass.Mutable mutable = x;     mutable.SomeMethod(); }  private void InInt32([System.Runtime.CompilerServices.IsReadOnly] [In] ref int x) {     int num = x;     num.ToString(); }  private void InDateTime([System.Runtime.CompilerServices.IsReadOnly] [In] ref DateTime x) {     DateTime dateTime = x;     dateTime.ToString(); } ... 

(or, if you prefer IL:)

IL_0000: ldarg.1 IL_0001: ldobj [mscorlib]System.DateTime IL_0006: stloc.0 IL_0007: ldloca.s 0 IL_0009: call instance string [mscorlib]System.DateTime::ToString() IL_000e: pop IL_000f: ret 


:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: