Tutorial - Using LLVMC


Written by Mikhail Glushenkov


LLVMC is a generic compiler driver, which plays the same role for LLVM as the gcc program does for GCC - the difference being that LLVMC is designed to be more adaptable and easier to customize. Most of LLVMC functionality is implemented via plugins, which can be loaded dynamically or compiled in. This tutorial describes the basic usage and configuration of LLVMC.

Compiling with LLVMC

In general, LLVMC tries to be command-line compatible with gcc as much as possible, so most of the familiar options work:

$ llvmc -O3 -Wall hello.cpp
$ ./a.out

This will invoke llvm-g++ under the hood (you can see which commands are executed by using the -v option). For further help on command-line LLVMC usage, refer to the llvmc --help output.

Using LLVMC to generate toolchain drivers

LLVMC plugins are written mostly using TableGen, so you need to be familiar with it to get anything done.

Start by compiling plugins/Simple/Simple.td, which is a primitive wrapper for gcc:

$ cd $LLVM_DIR/tools/llvmc
$ cat > hello.c
$ mygcc hello.c
$ ./hello.out

Here we link our plugin with the LLVMC core statically to form an executable file called mygcc. It is also possible to build our plugin as a standalone dynamic library; this is described in the reference manual.

Contents of the file Simple.td look like this:

// Include common definitions
include "llvm/CompilerDriver/Common.td"

// Tool descriptions
def gcc : Tool<
[(in_language "c"),
 (out_language "executable"),
 (output_suffix "out"),
 (cmd_line "gcc $INFILE -o $OUTFILE"),

// Language map
def LanguageMap : LanguageMap<[LangToSuffixes<"c", ["c"]>]>;

// Compilation graph
def CompilationGraph : CompilationGraph<[Edge<"root", "gcc">]>;

As you can see, this file consists of three parts: tool descriptions, language map, and the compilation graph definition.

At the heart of LLVMC is the idea of a compilation graph: vertices in this graph are tools, and edges represent a transformation path between two tools (for example, assembly source produced by the compiler can be transformed into executable code by an assembler). The compilation graph is basically a list of edges; a special node named root is used to mark graph entry points.

Tool descriptions are represented as property lists: most properties in the example above should be self-explanatory; the sink property means that all options lacking an explicit description should be forwarded to this tool.

The LanguageMap associates a language name with a list of suffixes and is used for deciding which toolchain corresponds to a given input file.

To learn more about LLVMC customization, refer to the reference manual and plugin source code in the plugins directory.

Valid CSS Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Mikhail Glushenkov
LLVM Compiler Infrastructure
Last modified: $Date: 2008-12-11 11:34:48 -0600 (Thu, 11 Dec 2008) $