GCC 10 Compiler Drops IBM Cell Broadband Engine SPU Support

Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 4 September 2019 at 01:09 AM EDT. 28 Comments
GNU --
Next year's GNU Compiler Collection 10 (GCC 10) compiler release is doing away with support for IBM's Cell Broadband Engine SPU support.

There hasn't been much (anything?) happening on the IBM Cell processor front in about one decade and the GNU toolchain folks are ready to drop the Cell Broadband Engine SPU support with that compiler target previously being maintained by Sony.

The "Synergistic Processing Unit" (SPU) target for the Cell Broadband Engine is removed as of Tuesday's GCC development code with this change being for the GCC 10.1 feature release due out in Q2'2020. Under the Cell Broadband Engine design, each Synergistic Processor Element (SPE) consisted of a Synergistic Process Unit (SPU).

The Cell BE SPU support was removed from GCC for being "obsolete". Technically this doesn't kill off the Cell BE support entirely as there is still the PowerPC Processor Element (PPC) that uses PowerPC instructions, but the SPE/SPU support is no longer maintained by an open-source compiler toolchain. Without the ability to tap the SPE, there isn't anything special about the once promising Cell processors.

The dropping of this Cell SPU support did lighten the GNU Compiler Collection code-base by more than thirty-four thousand lines of code.
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