Re: Business of Compilers

Walter Banks <>
Fri, 21 May 2010 13:48:46 -0400

          From comp.compilers

Related articles
[3 earlier articles]
Re: Business of Compilers (BGB / cr88192) (2010-05-16)
Re: Business of Compilers (Tom Crick) (2010-05-16)
Re: Business of Compilers (BGB / cr88192) (2010-05-17)
Re: Business of Compilers (Jeremy Wright) (2010-05-18)
Re: Business of Compilers (Jeremy Bennett) (2010-05-20)
Re: Business of Compilers (BGB / cr88192) (2010-05-21)
Re: Business of Compilers (Walter Banks) (2010-05-21)
Re: Business of Compilers ( (2010-05-26)
Re: Business of Compilers (Ramesh) (2010-06-13)
| List of all articles for this month |

From: Walter Banks <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Fri, 21 May 2010 13:48:46 -0400
Organization: Netfront
References: 10-05-088 10-05-117
Keywords: practice
Posted-Date: 21 May 2010 16:58:34 EDT

Jeremy Bennett wrote:
> On Sun, 16 May 2010 02:03:08 +0530, Seima Rao wrote:
> > Twenty years ago, there was buzz surrounding compilers in the ISV
> > segment.
> >
> > I am eager to know what business opportunities are available in the
> > field of compiler technology nowadays. Is it possible to run a
> > company purely by selling compiler technology? How sustainable would
> > be such an enterprise? What compiler products can possible be sold
> > these days?
> Hi Seima,
> As others have commented, the success of open source compilers has
> limited the ability to sell a traditional commercial product.

Yes and no. A lot of silicon companies saw open source as a way for
them to check off the prerequisite for basic support. Many of these
same silicon companies are finding that GCC fails to effectively
utilize the advantages their silicon offers are now looking for other
solutions to sell their silicon.

Customers are also seeing a different picture emerge. The initial cost
for open source tools is low or zero but maintenance costs (in house
or third party) for open source tools are are higher than typically
commercial compilers extended support.

> Our view is that, at least in the embedded space, GCC or GCC
> compatible compilers, will continue to grow in importance for two
> reasons.

In hosted embedded space GCC is an important player. In non-hosted
embedded space I don't think so. In non hosted embedded space there
are fewer application and many many more targets. The code tends to be
compile once run in millions of targets. Code size and execution time
translate into production cost, emi and battery life. The
availability of target specific support during development in high
volume applications more than offsets the initial cost of the compiler

> First, with heterogenous multi-core chips, users are not prepared to
> support multiple compiler tool chains, and GNU is generally the only
> unified toolchain option available. Indeed processor core
> manufacturers of all sizes are coming under increasing pressure from
> IDMs to improve their GCC offering for just this reason.

Compiling applications for multiprocessor based targets is a lot more
complex than having a familiar compiler for each execution unit. The
state of the art for commercial systems starts with a single source
and splits generated code to run on several targets. The fundamental
problems that GCC has with source level debugging information with
code motion would become a developers nightmare if it targeted a
single application to several processors.

The strength of gcc is also its biggest weakness. The technical issue
with gcc is the fundamental design is very old and it tries to support
many targets with as much common code as possible. These are primary
weaknesses when gcc is competing with commercial compilers designed
for a specific targets.

> John added a comment about there being a lot of compiler activity in
> India. You'll notice the companies I mentioned earlier are all
> European. Contributions to GCC and the GNU tool chain are still
> largely from employees of US and European companies.

The contributions to gcc may reflect the kinds of applications
now being developed in the US and Europe.


Walter Banks
Byte Craft Limited

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