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<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
                      "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html>
<head>
  <title>Writing an LLVM backend</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="llvm.css" type="text/css">
</head>

<body>

<div class="doc_title">
  Writing an LLVM backend
</div>

<ol>
  <li><a href="#intro">Introduction</a>
  <li><a href="#backends">Writing a backend</a>
  <ol>
    <li><a href="#machine">Machine backends</a>
    <ol>
      <li><a href="#machineTOC">Outline</a></li>
      <li><a href="#machineDetails">Implementation details</a></li>
    </ol></li>  
    <li><a href="#lang">Language backends</a></li>
  </ol></li>
  <li><a href="#related">Related reading material</a>
</ol>

<div class="doc_author">    
  <p>Written by <a href="http://misha.brukman.net">Misha Brukman</a></p>
</div>

<!-- *********************************************************************** -->
<div class="doc_section">
  <a name="intro">Introduction</a>
</div>
<!-- *********************************************************************** -->

<div class="doc_text">

<p>This document describes techniques for writing backends for LLVM which
convert the LLVM representation to machine assembly code or other languages.</p>

</div>

<!-- *********************************************************************** -->
<div class="doc_section">
  <a name="backends">Writing a backend</a>
</div>
<!-- *********************************************************************** -->

<!-- ======================================================================= -->
<div class="doc_subsection">
  <a name="machine">Machine backends</a>
</div>
    
<!-- _______________________________________________________________________ -->
<div class="doc_subsubsection">
  <a name="machineTOC">Outline</a>
</div>

<div class="doc_text">

<p>In general, you want to follow the format of SPARC, X86 or PowerPC (in
<tt>lib/Target</tt>).  SPARC is the simplest backend, and is RISC, so if
you're working on a RISC target, it is a good one to start with.</p>

<p>To create a static compiler (one that emits text assembly), you need to
implement the following:</p>

<ul>
<li>Describe the register set.
  <ul>
  <li>Create a <a href="TableGenFundamentals.html">TableGen</a> description of
      the register set and register classes</li>
  <li>Implement a subclass of <tt><a
      href="CodeGenerator.html#targetregisterinfo">TargetRegisterInfo</a></tt></li>
  </ul></li>
<li>Describe the instruction set.
  <ul>
  <li>Create a <a href="TableGenFundamentals.html">TableGen</a> description of
      the instruction set</li>
  <li>Implement a subclass of <tt><a
      href="CodeGenerator.html#targetinstrinfo">TargetInstrInfo</a></tt></li>
  </ul></li>
<li>Describe the target machine.
  <ul>
  <li>Create a <a href="TableGenFundamentals.html">TableGen</a> description of
      the target that describes the pointer size and references the instruction
      set</li>
  <li>Implement a subclass of <tt><a
      href="CodeGenerator.html#targetmachine">TargetMachine</a></tt>, which
      configures <tt><a href="CodeGenerator.html#targetdata">TargetData</a></tt>
      correctly</li>
  <li>Register your new target using the <tt>RegisterTarget</tt>
  template:<br><br>
<div class="doc_code"><pre>
RegisterTarget&lt;<em>MyTargetMachine</em>&gt; M("short_name", "  Target name");
</pre></div>
      <br>Here, <em>MyTargetMachine</em> is the name of your implemented
      subclass of <tt><a
      href="CodeGenerator.html#targetmachine">TargetMachine</a></tt>,
      <em>short_name</em> is the option that will be active following
      <tt>-march=</tt> to select a target in llc and lli, and the last string
      is the description of your target to appear in <tt>-help</tt>
      listing.</li>
  </ul></li>
<li>Implement the assembly printer for the architecture.
  <ul>
  <li>Define all of the assembly strings for your target, adding them to the
      instructions in your *InstrInfo.td file.</li>
  <li>Implement the <tt>llvm::AsmPrinter</tt> interface.</li>
  </ul>
</li>
<li>Implement an instruction selector for the architecture.
  <ul>
  <li>The recommended method is the <a href="CodeGenerator.html#instselect">
      pattern-matching DAG-to-DAG instruction selector</a> (for example, see
      the PowerPC backend in PPCISelDAGtoDAG.cpp).  Parts of instruction
      selector creation can be performed by adding patterns to the instructions
      in your <tt>.td</tt> file.</li>
  </ul>
</li>
<li>Optionally, add subtarget support.
<ul>
  <li>If your target has multiple subtargets (e.g. variants with different
      capabilities), implement the <tt>llvm::TargetSubtarget</tt> interface
      for your architecture.  This allows you to add <tt>-mcpu=</tt> and 
      <tt>-mattr=</tt> options.</li>
</ul>
<li>Optionally, add JIT support.
  <ul>
  <li>Create a subclass of <tt><a
      href="CodeGenerator.html#targetjitinfo">TargetJITInfo</a></tt></li>
  <li>Create a machine code emitter that will be used to emit binary code
      directly into memory, given <tt>MachineInstr</tt>s</li>
  </ul>
</ul>
</div>

<!-- _______________________________________________________________________ -->
<div class="doc_subsubsection">
  <a name="machineDetails">Implementation details</a>
</div>

<div class="doc_text">

<ul>

<li><p><b>TableGen register info description</b> - describe a class which
will store the register's number in the binary encoding of the instruction
(e.g., for JIT purposes).</p>

<p>You also need to define register classes to contain these registers, such as
the integer register class and floating-point register class, so that you can
allocate virtual registers to instructions from these sets, and let the
target-independent register allocator automatically choose the actual
architected registers.</p>

<div class="doc_code">
<pre>
// class Register is defined in Target.td
<b>class</b> <em>Target</em>Reg&lt;string name&gt; : Register&lt;name&gt; {
  <b>let</b> Namespace = "<em>Target</em>";
}

<b>class</b> IntReg&lt;<b>bits</b>&lt;5&gt; num, string name&gt; : <em>Target</em>Reg&lt;name&gt; {
  <b>field</b> <b>bits</b>&lt;5&gt; Num = num;
}

<b>def</b> R0 : IntReg&lt;0, "%R0"&gt;;
...

// class RegisterClass is defined in Target.td
<b>def</b> IReg : RegisterClass&lt;i64, 64, [R0, ... ]&gt;;
</pre>
</div>
</li>

<li><p><b>TableGen instruction info description</b> - break up instructions into
classes, usually that's already done by the manufacturer (see instruction
manual).  Define a class for each instruction category.  Define each opcode as a
subclass of the category, with appropriate parameters such as the fixed binary
encoding of opcodes and extended opcodes, and map the register bits to the bits
of the instruction which they are encoded in (for the JIT).  Also specify how
the instruction should be printed so it can use the automatic assembly printer,
e.g.:</p>

<div class="doc_code">
<pre>
// class Instruction is defined in Target.td
<b>class</b> Form&lt;<b>bits</b>&lt;6&gt; opcode, <b>dag</b> OL, <b>string</b> asmstr&gt; : Instruction {
  <b>field</b> <b>bits</b>&lt;42&gt; Inst;

  <b>let</b> Namespace = "<em>Target</em>";
  <b>let</b> Inst{0-6} = opcode;
  <b>let</b> OperandList = OL;
  <b>let</b> AsmString = asmstr;
}

<b>def</b> ADD : Form&lt;42, (ops IReg:$rD, IReg:$rA, IReg:$rB), "add $rD, $rA, $rB"&gt;;
</pre>
</div>
</li>

</ul>

</div>

<!-- ======================================================================= -->
<div class="doc_subsection">
  <a name="lang">Language backends</a>
</div>

<div class="doc_text">

<p>For now, just take a look at <tt>lib/Target/CBackend</tt> for an example of
how the C backend is written.</p>

</div>
<!-- ======================================================================= -->
<div class="doc_subsection">
  <a name="files">Files to create/modify</a>
</div>

<div class="doc_text">

<p>To actually create your backend, you need to create and modify a few files.
Here, the absolute minimum will be discussed. To actually use LLVM's target
independent codegenerator, you must <a href="CodeGenerator.html">implement extra
things</a>.</p>

<p>First of all, you should create a subdirectory under <tt>lib/Target</tt>,
which will hold all the files related to your target. Let's assume that our
target is called, "Dummy", we would create the directory
<tt>lib/Target/Dummy</tt>.</p>

<p>In this new directory, you should put a <tt>Makefile</tt>. You can probably
copy one from another target and modify it. It should at least contain the
<tt>LEVEL</tt>, <tt>LIBRARYNAME</tt> and <tt>TARGET</tt> variables, and then
include <tt>$(LEVEL)/Makefile.common</tt>. Be careful to give the library the
correct name, it must be named <tt>LLVMDummy</tt> (see the MIPS target, for
example). Alternatively, you can split the library into
<tt>LLVMDummyCodeGen</tt> and <tt>LLVMDummyAsmPrinter</tt>, the latter of which
should be implemented in a subdirectory below <tt>lib/Target/Dummy</tt> (see the
PowerPC target, for example).</p>

<p>Note that these two naming schemes are hardcoded into llvm-config. Using any
other naming scheme will confuse llvm-config and produce lots of (seemingly
unrelated) linker errors when linking <tt>llc</tt>.</p>

<p>To make your target actually do something, you need to implement a subclass
of <tt>TargetMachine</tt>. This implementation should typically be in the file
<tt>lib/Target/DummyTargetMachine.cpp</tt>, but any file in the
<tt>lib/Target</tt> directory will be built and should work. To use LLVM's <a
href="CodeGenerator.html">target independent code generator</a>, you should
create a subclass of <tt>LLVMTargetMachine</tt>. This is what all current
machine backends do. To create a target from scratch, create a subclass of
<tt>TargetMachine</tt>. This is what the current language backends do.</p>

<p>To get LLVM to actually build and link your target, you also need to add it
to the <tt>TARGETS_TO_BUILD</tt> variable. To do this, you need to modify the
<tt>configure</tt> script to know about your target when parsing the
<tt>--enable-targets</tt> option. Search the <tt>configure</tt> script for
<tt>TARGETS_TO_BUILD</tt>, add your target to the lists there (some creativity
required) and then reconfigure. Alternatively, you can change
<tt>autotools/configure.ac</tt> and regenerate <tt>configure</tt> by running
<tt>./autoconf/AutoRegen.sh</tt>.

</div>

<!-- *********************************************************************** -->
<div class="doc_section">
  <a name="related">Related reading material</a>
</div>
<!-- *********************************************************************** -->

<div class="doc_text">

<ul>
<li><a href="CodeGenerator.html">Code generator</a> -
    describes some of the classes in code generation at a high level, but
    it is not (yet) complete</li>
<li><a href="TableGenFundamentals.html">TableGen fundamentals</a> -
    describes how to use TableGen to describe your target information
    succinctly</li>
<li><a href="HowToSubmitABug.html#codegen">Debugging code generation with
    bugpoint</a> - shows bugpoint usage scenarios to simplify backend
    development</li>
</ul>

</div>

<!-- *********************************************************************** -->

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