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This repository contains my work on a new ARM backend for the OCaml native code compiler, currently based on the 3.12.1 release. Compared to the old ARM backend, this one does the following:

  • Support for both software and hardware floating-point using VFPv3-D16 or VFPv3(-D32).
  • Properly supports interworking with Thumb/Thumb-2 code for both OCaml and C code.
  • Supports dynamic linking and large memory models.
  • Optional support for position-independent code via a command line option -fPIC. This is disabled by default and not required for natdynlink.
  • Can emit both ARM and Thumb-2 code, with avg. code size savings of 27% for Thumb-2 (quite close the optimal 30% advertised by ARM Ltd.).
  • Supports both AAPCS (armel) as well as extended VFP calling conventions (armhf).
  • Supports several special ARM instructions to reduce code size and latency.
  • Uses standard ARM EABI runtime functions instead of relying on GCC internals.
  • Supports exception backtraces.
  • Supports profiling using gprof.

Reported upstream as PR#5433.

Architecture selection

You can specify the architecture when compiling with ocamlopt using the -farch command line option. Currently we support the following ARM architectures:

  • armv4 for ARMv4 / ARMv4T / StrongARM (not supported for armhf)
  • armv5 (not supported for armhf)
  • armv5te (not supported for armhf)
  • armv6 (not supported for armhf)
  • armv6t2 (not supported for armhf)
  • armv7 for Cortex

FPU selection

You can specify the floating-point unit when compiling with ocamlopt using the -ffpu command line option. Currently we support the following FPUs:

  • soft for software floating-point emulation (currently the only option for armel)
  • vfpv3-d16 for VFPv3-D16 (armhf only)
  • vfpv3 for VFPv3(-D32) (armhf only)

Performance / Code size savings

The new OCaml ARM backend (on armhf) is up to 4x faster in floating-point benchmarks compared to the 3.12.1 ARM backend (on armel), and code size is decreased by up to 28%. See the ocaml-arm 3.12.1+20111218 Benchmark for details.

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