gccint.info: Portability

Go forward to Interface
Go backward to Contributing
Go up to Top
Go to the top op gccint

GCC and Portability

   The main goal of GCC 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.
   GCC 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.
   GCC 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.