Re: Language Design

Christophe de Dinechin <>
Sat, 23 Jul 2011 08:17:37 -0700 (PDT)

          From comp.compilers

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From: Christophe de Dinechin <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2011 08:17:37 -0700 (PDT)
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 11-07-027
Keywords: design
Posted-Date: 24 Jul 2011 18:09:40 EDT

On Jul 18, 10:16 pm, Billy Mays
<> wrote:
> I am trying to design a programming language for a simple processor
> (16 bit, ~10 instructions, 16 registers). I am not sure what a
> language actually needs in order to be more useful than pure assembly,
> but is also reasonable to implement.


Is your objective to invent a language, or have a language that works
on that simple processor? You may be interested in XL (http:// The XL2 portion of it is very easy to retarget, and it is
a high level language which you can then tweak to explore various
language or CPU design ideas.

Basically, say you want to add a 16-bit unsigned type and the
associated multiply-add, where the assembly syntax is "fma16 target =
src1, src2, src3", all you need to do is:

- Modify xl2/native/library/runtime/C/xl_builtins.xs with the required
language declarations:

        type uint16 is XL.BYTECODE.uint16
        function FusedMultiplyAdd(X, Y, Z: uint16) return uint16 written
X*Y+Z is XL.BYTECODE.fma_uint16

- Add the corresponding target syntax in the bytecode file

        fma_uint16 "fma16 $1 = $2, $3"

If that approach works for you, you can create your own "runtime" by
replicating the "C" directory (which targets standard C compilers) and
creating a directory for your target, say "myproc". Then, you run the
compiler with "nxl -r myproc foo.xl" and it will compile using this

Hope this helps

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