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GNU CC and Portability
The main goal of GNU CC was to make a good, fast compiler for
machines in the class that the GNU system aims to run on: 32-bit
machines that address 8-bit bytes and have several general registers.
Elegance, theoretical power and simplicity are only secondary.
GNU CC gets most of the information about the target machine from a
machine description which gives an algebraic formula for each of the
machine's instructions. This is a very clean way to describe the
target. But when the compiler needs information that is difficult to
express in this fashion, I have not hesitated to define an ad-hoc
parameter to the machine description. The purpose of portability is to
reduce the total work needed on the compiler; it was not of interest
for its own sake.
GNU CC does not contain machine dependent code, but it does contain
code that depends on machine parameters such as endianness (whether the
most significant byte has the highest or lowest address of the bytes in
a word) and the availability of autoincrement addressing. In the
RTL-generation pass, it is often necessary to have multiple strategies
for generating code for a particular kind of syntax tree, strategies
that are usable for different combinations of parameters. Often I have
not tried to address all possible cases, but only the common ones or
only the ones that I have encountered. As a result, a new target may
require additional strategies. You will know if this happens because
the compiler will call `abort'. Fortunately, the new strategies can be
added in a machine-independent fashion, and will affect only the target
machines that need them.
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