New GCC 3.4.4 version unleashedBy Chris Williams. Published: 6th May 2005, 15:28:50 | Permalink | Printable
Wodge of fixes, improvements and licence tomfooleryRelease 2 of GCC 3.4.4 for RISC OS is now available from the GCCSDK website. The improvements and enhancements woven into this new version should, for software built with the new GCC, result in increased speed, enhanced stability and better support for Unix applications.
For example, memcpy(), memset(), strcpy() and strlen() functions have been tuned up by Adrian Lees, support for pthreads and fork() has been improved, there's better signal handling and floating point number support in UnixLib and C99 math support has been added. Drlink can process large numbers of symbols more efficiently, the toolchain now includes decaof, the SharedUnixLibrary module is up to version 1.06 and UnixLib is now LGPL licenced - reducing the licensing headache for commercial developers who use the super-library.
The GCCSDK team are now focusing on a GCC 4.0 release, although they say they will maintain a GCC 3.4 stream for the forseeable future. GCC 4 is expected to output programs in ELF format, which is dissimilar to AOF, the RISC OS binary format. This will mean that a suitable loader needs to present to execute ELF software on RISC OS, but the benefits of using ELF are expected to be worth it: it opens up the ability to use widely used tools that recognise the ELF format for debugging and binary file processing, for example.
Also, "preliminary" support for building modules with GCC has recently begun and can be tested with today's GCC release, although users are warned to not expect it to produce working code just yet.
Another idea currently enjoying consideration is the replacement of floating point operations with so called 'soft-float' code. At the moment, if a program wishes to do some floating point maths, it executes instructions that a floating point accelerator chip would handle. Since the majority of RISC OS powered machines lack an FPA, these maths instructions are intercepted by the floating point emulator module, which does the maths on the main ARM processor - resulting in the low FP performance usually seen on RISC OS. As a library, soft-float implements this software emulation of the maths operations, cutting out and replacing the FPE. While it's hoped that soft-float will reduce the FP overhead, there are still a number of issues to be debated (such as the effect this has on emulated systems) before this optional feature is seen in a public GCC release.
Acorn C/C++ versus GCC - everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask, by Peter Naulls (a GCCSDK developer and Drobe writer)
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