LLVM Clang Mainlines Support For The Motorola 68000 Series (m68k)

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 8 March 2021 at 08:27 PM EST. 23 Comments
If it wasn't odd enough during these pandemic times seeing Nintendo 64 support upstreamed into the Linux 5.12 kernel a few weeks back, the latest vintage hardware seeing open-source support still going on is the Motorola 68000 series 32-bit processors. LLVM/Clang today merged the "m68k" target for these three decade old processors.

The Motorola 68000 (m68k) 32-bit processors were found in early Apple Macintosh computers, the Amiga, Sega Genesis, and other vintage devices. Motorola hasn't even been developing the 68000 series since the mid 90's but it has remained popular in some retro computing circles and still sees Linux/open-source work.

The m68k GCC port continues to be maintained while it previously was at risk of removal. More recently there's been work aiming to upstream m68k in LLVM after multiple failed attempts in the past.

The justification now for mainlining this Motorola 68000 series support in LLVM is that the back-end has matured quite a bit and is actively being used by m68k hobbyists.

The focus at the moment appears to be on the Clang C/C++ compiler for m68k but ultimately this is also important if wanting to use other LLVM-based projects on these old Motorola processors like Rust and countless other innovative open-source projects leveraging this compiler infrastructure.

The m68k support for LLVM/Clang was merged across a set of eight patches today into the mainline code-base for LLVM 13 that will be released as stable this autumn.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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