Rust vs C++: Modern Developers’ Dilemma

Zoltan Fehervari

March 1, 2024

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From memory management mastery to concurrency conquests, our Rust vs C++ comparison gives you the edge in choosing the powerhouse for your next project.


One particularly common dilemma these days, among many developers involves the analysis of Rust vs C++. Both languages offer their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to determine which one would best suit a given project's requirements.

Our aim is to provide valuable insights that can help professionals make well-informed decisions based on their specific needs and long-term goals in software development.


This article is not the shortest, so if you want to skip to a specific part you are interested in, click on any of these:

1. Rust vs C++: Understanding the Core Fundamentals

2. The History of Rust vs C++

3. Libraries, Frameworks and Extensions

4. Performance face-off of Rust vs C++

5. Memory Management: Safety and Control in Rust and C++

6. Concurrency: Comparing Rust and C++ Multithreading Capabilities

7. Performance Benchmarks and Detailed Comparisons

8. Developer Experience: Ease of Use and Learning Curve

9. Industry Adoption: Who's Using Rust and C++?

10. Conclusion

Key Takeaways

  • Comparing Rust and C++ can help developers make better-informed choices in language selection.

  • Both Rust and C++ have their own pros and cons, with each language offering unique strengths and weaknesses.

  • Understanding the fundamentals and core features of Rust and C++ is crucial for making an educated decision.

  • Considering factors like performance, memory management, and concurrency will play a significant role in determining which language is best suited for a particular project.

  • Evaluating the developer experience, learning curve, and ecosystem of both Rust and C++ is essential when making a final decision.

Rust programming language official logo - Bluebird International
C++ programming language official logo - Bluebird International

Rust vs C++: Understanding the Core Fundamentals

Both Rust and C++ are versatile and high-performance languages that bring different capabilities to the table. In this section, we will explore their respective fundamentals, including Rust basics, C++ fundamentals, language syntax comparison, and programming language features. This analysis will provide developers with a clear perspective on the differences between Rust and C++ and how they impact projects and objectives in software development.

Language Syntax Comparison

To grasp the differences and similarities between Rust and C++ syntax, let's take a brief look at how each language specifies declarations and function definitions:


Declaration Syntax

Function Definition


let x: i32;

fn foo() {}


int x;

void foo() {}

As seen in this table, Rust and C++ syntax share similarities yet maintain unique distinctions. These differences extend to various aspects such as error handling, template specialization, and iterator implementation.

Programming Language Features of Rust vs C++

We'll now dive a bit deeper into core features that differentiate Rust and C++ at a higher level, starting with their supported programming paradigms:

  1. 1
    Rust: Designed as a systems programming language, Rust focuses on safety and concurrency, while supporting imperative, functional, and concurrent programming paradigms.
  2. 2
    C++: As a general-purpose programming language, C++ supports multiple paradigms, including procedural, functional, object-oriented, and generic programming.

Rust and C++ both enable developers to create powerful and efficient software. However, Rust delivers memory safety guarantees and embraces a more modern learning experience. In contrast, C++ emphasizes precise manual control, which can be both advantageous and risky for developers.




Error Handling

Rust promotes a more expressive error handling model with Result and Option types, resulting in cleaner and more robust code.

In C++, error handling mainly relies on exceptions, which can be cumbersome and lead to performance issues if not managed correctly.

Memory Management

Rust enforces memory safety checks at compile time, minimizing runtime overhead and reducing the likelihood of memory errors.

C++ provides fine-grained memory management options, but it also leaves room for memory leaks and undefined behavior if developers aren't vigilant.


Thanks to its innovative ownership model, Rust delivers "fearless concurrency," minimizing the risk of race conditions and deadlocks.

C++ supports multithreading, but developers must manage synchronization and data sharing carefully to avoid race conditions and other concurrency issues.

As illustrated in the table above, Rust's and C++'s paradigm support and implications greatly affect error handling, memory management, and concurrency. These factors influence the language selection process for developers seeking to optimize their projects for specific goals or performance requirements.

The History of Rust vs C++

Let's dive into the fascinating history of these powerful languages and learn how their evolution shaped the programming landscape today.

The Birth of C++ and Its Dominance in Software Development

C++ was created by Bjarne Stroustrup in the early 1980s as an extension of the C programming language. C++ introduced object-oriented programming (OOP) features, which allowed developers to work with abstract data structures and more easily manage complex software projects. Its expressive syntax, high performance, and close-to-the-system capabilities quickly made it a popular choice for system programming, and it soon dominated the industry.

Throughout its history, C++ has played a crucial role in the development of several widely-used software applications, libraries, and frameworks. From operating systems like Windows and macOS to game engines and high-performance computing, C++ has been a global phenomenon, shaping the world of software development and setting industry standards.

Despite its success, C++ has also faced criticism for its complexity and steep learning curve. Its manual memory management and lack of modern safety features have led to an increased risk of vulnerabilities and crashes. This led to a demand for new languages that provide improved safety while maintaining performance and system-level control. One such language to emerge in response is Rust.

Rust: A Modern Challenger Emerges

Rust emerged in 2010 as an ambitious new systems programming language developed by Mozilla Research. Conceptualized by Graydon Hoare, Rust was designed with the goal of providing memory safety and strong concurrency control while retaining the performance and control of C++.

One of Rust's most innovative features is its unique ownership system, which ensures memory safety without the need for garbage collection. This allows Rust to prevent data races and other concurrency-related issues more effectively than traditional C++.

Rust has steadily gained popularity among developers and is increasingly being adopted for a variety of applications, from web development to game engines. Its emergence has sparked a debate among developers regarding the merits of using Rust vs C++ for modern systems programming tasks.


First Released


Key Features



Bjarne Stroustrup

  • Object-oriented programming

  • High performance

  • Manual memory management

  • Widely used in system programming and large-scale applications



Graydon Hoare

Unique ownership and borrowing model for efficient memory management

Libraries, Frameworks and extensions




  • Boost: A collection of portable C++ source libraries that extend the functionality of C++, used for tasks such as linear algebra, pseudorandom number generation, and unit testing.

  • Eigen: A high-level C++ library for linear algebra, matrix and vector operations, geometrical transformations, numerical solvers, and related algorithms.

  • Poco: A collection of C++ libraries for building network-based applications and services, including HTTP servers and clients, filesystem access, and data handling.



  • Actix-Web: A powerful, pragmatic, and extremely fast web framework for building efficient and lightweight web services.

  • Rocket: A web framework for Rust with a focus on ease-of-use, expressibility, and speed, ideal for writing fast web applications without sacrificing flexibility or type safety.

  • Yew: A modern Rust framework for creating multi-threaded front-end web apps with WebAssembly.


  • Qt: A full development framework with tools designed to streamline the creation of applications and UIs for desktop, mobile, and embedded platforms.

  • SFML (Simple and Fast Multimedia Library): Provides a simple interface to various components of PCs, to ease the development of games and multimedia applications.

  • Boost.Asio: Part of the Boost library, Asio is a cross-platform C++ library for network and low-level I/O programming, offering a consistent asynchronous model.



  • Clippy: A collection of lints to catch common mistakes and improve your Rust code.

  • Rustfmt: An extension for formatting Rust code according to style guidelines.

  • Cargo-edit: Extends Cargo to allow you to add, remove, and upgrade dependencies by modifying your Cargo.toml file from the command line.


  • Visual Studio Code C++ Extension: Offers advanced C++ language support, debugging, and code browsing in Visual Studio Code.

  • GCC (GNU Compiler Collection): Provides robust support for C++ extensions, allowing developers to compile code for a wide variety of platforms.

  • Clang Extensions: Offers a set of tools and extensions for C++ development, including enhanced compiler diagnostics, static analysis, and format tools.

Performance face-off of Rust vs C++

When developers consider adopting a language for system programming or high-performance computing (HPC) applications, performance is often a top priority. In this section, we provide a detailed analysis of performance benchmarks between Rust and C++, specifically focusing on high-efficiency scenarios to help determine which language holds an advantage.

Although C++ has been the industry standard for high-performance computing for many years, Rust's modern features and safety guarantees make it a strong contender in the performance arena.

System Programming Performance

In the realm of systems programming, both Rust and C++ offer impressive performance characteristics. However, there are key differences that set them apart. One crucial aspect is the raw execution speed of programs written in each language.

Programming Language

Average Execution Speed (% of C)





As illustrated in the above table, C++ programs tend to have a slight advantage in execution speed over Rust. However, this gap is relatively small, and the performance differences could be diminished by various optimization techniques.

High-Performance Computing (HPC)

In the context of high-performance computing, both Rust and C++ are viable options, but their suitability depends on the specific demands of the application. Let's compare them in terms of parallelism and memory management, which are critical factors for HPC:

  1. 1
    Parallelism: Both Rust and C++ allow for efficient parallelism, but they handle it differently. With C++, developers have to use open-source libraries like OpenMP or Intel Threading Building Blocks (TBB). Rust, on the other hand, provides built-in concurrency support through the standard library and its unique ownership system, reducing the possibility of data races.
  2. 2
    Memory Management: C++ grants full control over memory management, which can result in higher performance if wielded by an experienced developer. In contrast, Rust offers built-in memory safety guarantees, which streamline memory management and minimize the risk of memory leaks or crashes.

Considering the aforementioned factors, we can conclude that choosing between Rust and C++ for HPC applications is dependent on the specific demands of the project and the developer's familiarity with the intricacies of each language.

Memory Management: Safety and Control in Rust and C++

Memory management is a critical aspect of programming that has significant implications for the safety and reliability of software applications. In this section, we will explore the approaches taken by Rust and C++ in the realm of memory management, highlighting the memory safety offered by Rust and the control mechanisms provided by C++.

Rust: A Strong Focus on Safety

Rust is designed with a strong emphasis on memory safety, preventing issues such as memory leaks, dangling pointers, and data races. This is achieved through its sophisticated ownership system, which allows the language to provide automatic memory management without the need for a garbage collector. This ensures that the memory is automatically deallocated when it is no longer required, significantly reducing the risk of memory-related bugs that could compromise the stability of an application.

The ownership system in Rust enforces three main rules:

  1. 1
    Each value can have only one owner.
  2. 2
    When the owner goes out of scope, the value is automatically deallocated.
  3. 3
    For mutable references, you can borrow a value any number of times or just one mutable reference at a time.

These guarantees result in a remarkable level of memory safety and provide developers with confidence in the reliability of their Rust applications.

C++: Manual Control and Flexibility

Unlike Rust, C++ offers manual memory control mechanisms, allowing developers to have fine-grained control over how and when memory gets allocated and deallocated. This approach provides greater flexibility, but it can also lead to hazards such as memory leaks, buffer overruns, and dangling pointers if the developer is not cautious.

Some benefits of C++'s manual memory management include:

  • Direct control over memory allocation and deallocation, enabling high-performance applications.

  • Flexibility to manage memory in a way that suits the specific needs of an application.

  • Compatibility with legacy systems that rely on manual memory management.

However, manual memory control demands a steep learning curve for developers, and its pitfalls can potentially result in crashes and security vulnerabilities in the software.

Comparing Memory Management: Rust vs. C++




Memory safety

High (ownership system)

Lower (manual control)

Automatic memory management

Yes (ownership system)

No (manual control)

Learning curve


Steep (due to manual memory control)


Less flexible (strict ownership rules)

Highly flexible (manual memory control)

Compatibility with legacy systems



Concurrency: Comparing Rust and C++ Multithreading Capabilities

In modern computing, concurrent and parallel programming are crucial in achieving high performance and efficient resource utilization. Both Rust and C++ offer multithreading support, but they have different approaches to tackling concurrency issues and ensuring thread safety. In this section, we will explore the challenges of concurrency in C++ and how Rust's innovative concurrency model addresses these issues.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Multithreading in C++

Though C++ has a rich ecosystem of concurrency abstractions and libraries, managing concurrency in C++ can be a daunting task. This is mainly due to the complexities surrounding thread safety and the need to deal with low-level synchronization primitives. Developers often face challenges when ensuring proper synchronization and avoiding race conditions.

In C++, thread safety and parallel programming challenges usually require developers to employ various techniques like mutexes, spinlocks, and condition variables. However, using these mechanisms can be error-prone and can lead to subtle bugs, deadlocks, and other concurrency issues. The table below summarizes the common pitfalls associated with C++ multithreading.

Concurrency Issue


Race Conditions

Two or more threads access shared memory simultaneously, causing unpredictable behavior and potential data corruption.


Two or more threads are unable to proceed because they are waiting for each other to release shared resources, leading to a standstill.


Some threads never get a chance to execute because other threads in the system consume all available processing time or resources.

Priority Inversion

A high-priority thread is blocked waiting for a low-priority thread to release a shared resource, leading to decreased overall performance.

Rust's Innovative Approach to Safe Concurrency

On the other hand, Rust offers a dynamic concurrency model that focuses on thread safety and zero-cost abstractions. Rust's approach to concurrency revolves around its ownership system and stringent type system, which help eliminate common concurrency problems.

One of Rust's key features is its concept of "fearless concurrency," which allows developers to write concurrent code without worrying about common pitfalls that plague C++ multithreading. By enforcing strict compile-time checks, Rust prevents data races and other concurrency issues from occurring, thus increasing the reliability and safety of multithreaded applications.

Here are some advantages of Rust's concurrency model compared to C++:

  • Ownership and borrowing system prevents data races at compile-time

  • Scoped thread APIs restrict the lifetime of threads to avoid unsafe behavior

  • Rust provides high-level synchronization primitives like channels for safe message passing between threads

  • Lock-free data structures and parallel iterators allow for efficient parallel programming

Performance Benchmarks and Detailed Comparisons

After understanding the basics and core features of Rust and C++, it's crucial to delve into how these languages perform in real-world scenarios. This section offers a closer look at performance benchmarks, execution speed, compilation speed, runtime performances, memory management, and error handling through code snippet comparisons.

Execution Speed


Rust code snippet for calculating prime numbers to demonstrate execution speed - Bluebird International


C++ code snippet for calculating prime numbers to illustrate execution speed - Bluebird International

Discussion: Both snippets calculate prime numbers up to a specified limit. When benchmarked, the differences in execution speed can illustrate the efficiency of Rust's and C++'s handling of loops and conditionals.

Compilation Speed

Compilation speed varies greatly depending on the complexity of the project. Rust's compiler, rustc, performs more checks for memory safety, which can increase compilation times compared to C++'s g++ or clang++. However, Rust's Cargo build system and incremental compilation can mitigate these differences over time.

Code Snippets: Not applicable for direct comparison as this involves project setup and build processes rather than code.

Runtime Performance

Both Rust and C++ are known for their high runtime performance, but Rust's ownership model ensures thread safety without a garbage collector, which can lead to predictable performance in concurrent applications.

Code Snippets: Refer to the execution speed examples, as runtime performance is closely tied to how efficiently code is executed.

Memory Management


Rust memory management example showing automatic deallocation.


C++ memory management example with manual deallocation - Bluebird International

Discussion: Rust's ownership system automatically manages memory, reducing the risk of memory leaks. C++, while flexible, requires explicit memory management, increasing the potential for errors.

Error Handling


Rust error handling example using Result for managing recoverable errors - Bluebird International


C++ error handling example using exceptions for error management - Bluebird International

Discussion: Rust uses Result for recoverable errors, making error handling explicit and integrated into the type system. C++ uses exceptions, which can lead to performance overhead and less predictable control flow.

Developer Experience: Ease of Use and Learning Curve

When choosing a programming language, it's essential to consider the overall developer experience, especially the language's ease of use and the learning curve required for proficiency. This aspect becomes particularly important for new developers entering the industry or seasoned developers looking to pick up an additional language. In this section, we will examine how Rust and C++ compare in terms of developer experience, paying special attention to their individual learning curves and the impact they have on productivity and job satisfaction.

Rust Learning Curve

Rust is often praised for its focus on safety, but it comes with a steeper learning curve for newcomers. The strict compiler, ownership system, and emphasis on reducing memory errors can make it challenging for developers just starting to learn Rust. However, once developers become familiar with these unique features, they find that the language empowers them to write more reliable, efficient code with fewer runtime errors. Rust's strong standard library and growing selection of third-party libraries also contribute to the ease of finding solutions to common programming problems.

C++ Complexity

While C++ has been a predominant language in software development, its complexity is a consistent concern for both new and experienced developers. Mastering C++ can take a considerable amount of time and effort due to its extensive feature set, intricate syntax, and manual memory management. However, the abundance of libraries, frameworks, and resources available for C++ can make it more accessible for developers to find existing solutions and support their learning process.




Learning Curve

Steeper, but focused on safety and reducing errors

Complex due to extensive features and manual memory management

Community Support

Active and growing

Vast and mature

Standard Library and Available Resources

Strong standard library and growing third-party libraries

Extensive libraries and frameworks available

Industry Adoption: Who's Using Rust and C++?

In this section, we will explore the industries and companies that have adopted Rust and C++ in their development processes, highlighting significant case studies and trends in real-world usage that showcase each language's strengths in different sectors.

Rust Industry Adoption

Rust has witnessed a steady increase in adoption since its inception, particularly among tech giants and innovative startups. Well-known companies utilizing Rust include:

  • Mozilla: As the primary sponsor of Rust, they use it for key components like Servo, a parallel browser engine.

  • Dropbox: Implements Rust for core infrastructure, improving their server-side efficiency and reliability.

  • Cloudflare: Utilizes Rust to develop performance-critical networking components, enhancing its edge computing capabilities.

  • Figma: Leveraged Rust's WebAssembly support to create a fast and collaborative web-based design tool.

These examples highlight Rust's capabilities in performance-sensitive domains, large-scale infrastructure, and web development, among others.

C++ in Enterprise

C++, as an established and versatile language, is widely used in various industries, such as finance, gaming, and telecommunications. Notable examples of C++ usage include:

  • Google: C++ is one of its primary languages for systems programming and has been used to develop critical components like the Chrome browser and TensorFlow, Google's machine learning library.

  • JPMorgan: The financial institution employs C++ to develop high-speed trading platforms and perform complex financial calculations.

  • Electronic Arts (EA): This gaming giant uses C++ to create high-performance video games, including the popular FIFA and Battlefield series.

  • Microsoft: C++ has long been a prevalent language at Microsoft, powering Windows internals and the development of core components in applications like Office and Visual Studio.

These varied use cases emphasize C++'s versatility and powerful performance in diverse industries.


Rust Adopters

C++ Adopters


Dropbox, Mozilla, Cloudflare

Microsoft, Google

Web Development


Google (Chrome browser)

Financial Services





Electronic Arts (EA)


In this article, we have explored the ever-present developer's dilemma of choosing between Rust and C++, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each programming language. As modern developers, it's crucial to consider a variety of factors such as performance, memory management, concurrency, and ease of use when selecting the right language for our projects. As language innovation continues to shape the future of coding, understanding the differences between Rust and C++ will aid in making well-informed decisions.

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