LLVM Began Its Dominance Of The Compiler Landscape This Decade
Written by Michael Larabel in LLVM on 25 December 2019 at 12:20 AM EST. 29 Comments
LLVM --
Not only has LLVM's Clang compiler proven to become a viable alternative to C/C++ and is now widely used by many different vendors for building production software and nearly at parity for performance to GCC, but the LLVM compiler infrastructure has proven to be a huge success. Beyond Apple as one of the original stakeholders, LLVM is also used by multiple software projects within Intel, AMD is making extensive use of it for their graphics compiler and other purposes, and many other companies leveraging the LLVM projects for various often innovative purposes -- Microsoft is even using it within select projects.

Over the past ten years, or rather the past five years or so, LLVM has matured into an extremely successful open-source project on multiple levels. There are even some Linux distributions like OpenMandriva building their Linux software packages with it and succeeding for nearly their entire archive -- as of this year, the Linux x86_64 kernel in Linux 5.3+ and Clang 9.0+ can even be built without out-of-tree patches or other extra steps.

In looking back at some of the LLVM successes over the 2010s, here is a look back at the 20 most popular LLVM articles out of some 850+ LLVM articles on Phoronix during this time period.

Eric S. Raymond Calls LLVM The "Superior Compiler" To GCC
Joining in on the heated discussion that originated over Richard Stallman voicing concerns over adding LLVM's LLDB debugger support to Emacs, Eric S Raymond has come out to once again voice his support in favor of LLVM/Clang and express his feelings that GCC's leading days are over.

Features To Look Forward To With LLVM / Clang 6.0
With the LLVM Clang 6.0 code branching and feature freeze coming up on 3 January, here's a recap of some of the most interesting new features and changes to find with the LLVM 6.0 compiler infrastructure and Clang 6.0 C/C++ front-end.

The Linux Kernel Is Now VLA-Free: A Win For Security, Less Overhead & Better For Clang
With the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel, it is now effectively VLA-free... The variable-length arrays (VLAs) that can be convenient and part of the C99 standard but can have unintended consequences.

FreeBSD 10 To Use Clang Compiler, Deprecate GCC
As indicated by the Q1-2012 FreeBSD Status Report, LLVM's Clang compiler is quickly replacing GCC for this popular BSD operating system. The developers are also making much progress in a GNU-free C++11 stack. For FreeBSD 10 they're aiming for Clang as the default C/C++ compiler, deprecate GCC, and to have a BSD-licensed C++ stack.

PlayStation 4 System Compiler Support Landing In LLVM
Support for Sony's PlayStation 4 game console code generation is landing within LLVM's open-source compiler infrastructure.

LLVM Patches Confirm Google Has Its Own In-House Processor
Patches published by Google developers today for LLVM/Clang confirm that the company has at least one in-house processor of its own.

Richard Stallman Calls LLVM A "Terrible Setback"
In the days since Eric S. Raymond had some choice words about GCC vs. Clang, the bickering and fighting over GCC vs. Clang compilers has continued. Richard M. Stallman has come out this morning on the Free Software Foundation's mailing list with his views to reiterate.

One Of LLVM's Top Contributors Quits Development Over CoC, Outreach Program
Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project.

PostgreSQL Begins Landing LLVM JIT Support For Faster Performance
The widely-used PostgreSQL database software may soon become much faster thanks to a work-in-progress LLVM JIT back-end that has begun to land.

Clang Gets Boosted By The Boost Libraries
Clang, the C/Objective-C/C++ compiler front-end for the Low-Level Virtual Machine, and LLVM itself have a lot to be proud of lately. LLVM 2.7 was recently released with many new features, LLVM now has its own libstdc++ replacement, and LLVM is finding itself used in many places from a JIT engine in a Flash player to providing software acceleration in Gallium3D. The latest accomplishment for Clang is that the C++ library can now build the Boost libraries.

Why Sony Is Using LLVM/Clang On The PlayStation 4
Sony is using LLVM/Clang as its CPU compiler as part of the development kit for targeting the PlayStation 4. Here's some more information on their reasoning for doing so and other details.

Sony Is Working On AMD Ryzen LLVM Compiler Improvements - Possibly For The PlayStation 5
One of Sony's compiler experts has taken to working on some tuning for the AMD Ryzen "znver1" microarchitecture support within the LLVM compiler stack. This begs the question why Sony is working on Ryzen improvements if not for a future product.

GCC & LLVM Developers May Begin Collaborating
As an interesting turn of events after Richard Stallman called LLVM a "terrible setback" and the discussion that ensued, it turns out that the GCC and LLVM/Clang developers might start to better collaborate under some sort of open-source compiler initiative.

Linux 3.15 Can Almost Be Compiled Under LLVM's Clang
A few hours ago I wrote about the most interesting features for the Linux 3.15 kernel from my perspective as it didn't look like anything else interesting would be introduced this late in the merge window before the imminent 3.15-rc1. However, this time I've been happily proven wrong with Clang patches being added to the Linux 3.15 kernel.

Apple Originally Tried To Give GPL'ed LLVM To GCC
Phoronix was the first to report widespread on Richard Stallman calling LLVM a "terrible setback" with the innovative and growing compiler infrastructure being put out under a BSD-style license instead of the GPL. Well, a little known fact is that when LLVM was first starting out, Apple tried integrating LLVM changes with GCC but it was rejected by the GCC developers.

Why Google Chrome Switched To The Clang Compiler On Linux
Since a few months back Google switched from GCC to Clang for compiling their production builds of the Chrome web-browser on Linux. A Google developer has now shed some light on the switch with backing up their own reasons for switching to Clang.

There's A New Libre GPU Effort Building On RISC-V, Rust, LLVM & Vulkan
Over the past decade and a half of covering the Linux graphics scene, there have been many attempts at providing a fully open-source GPU (or even just display adapter) down to the hardware level, but none of them have really panned out from Project VGA to other FPGA designs. There's a new very ambitious project trying to create a "libre 3D GPU" built atop RISC-V, leveraging Rust and LLVM on the software side, and would also support Vulkan.

Microsoft Announces An LLVM-Based Compiler For .NET
Microsoft has today lifted the lid on LLILC, their new LLVM-based compiler for .NET's CoreCLR.

GCC 4.6/4.7 vs. LLVM-Clang 3.0/3.1 Compilers
With LLVM/Clang 3.1 due out next week, here's a look at the compiler performance of the GCC 4.6 and 4.7 compilers compared to LLVM-Clang 3.0 and a recent LLVM-Clang 3.1 SVN snapshot.

Why IBM Now Views LLVM As Being Critical Software
It wasn't until the middle of 2012 that IBM viewed LLVM as being "critical" to support but since then they have decided to fully support LLVM across all IBM server platforms. Last week in Paris at the European LLVM Meeting, one of their developers talked about the tipping point in supporting LLVM on IBM hardware and their current development status.
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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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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