[Liboil] Orc-0.4.1 - The Oil Runtime Compiler

David Schleef ds at entropywave.com
Thu Jul 2 15:34:27 PDT 2009


This release introduces the orcc program, which parses .orc files and
outputs C source files to compile into a library or application.  The
main source file implements the functions described by the .orc source
code, by creating Orc programs and compiling them at runtime.  Another
source file that it outputs is a test program that can be compiled and
run to determine if Orc is generating code correctly.  In future
releases, the orcc tool will be expanded to output assembly code, as
well as make it easier to use Orc in a variety of ways.

Much of Schroedinger and GStreamer have been converted to use Orc
instead of liboil, as well as converting code that wasn't able to
use liboil.  To enable this in Schroedinger, use the --enable-orc
configure option.  The GStreamer changes are in the orc branch in
the repository at http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~ds/gstreamer

Scheduled changes for 0.4.2 include a 2-D array mode for converting
the remaining liboil functions used in Schroedinger and GStreamer.

Major changes:

 - Add the orcc compiler.  Generates C code that creates Orc programs
   from .orc source files.
 - Improved testing
 - Fixes in the C backend
 - Fix the MMX backend to emit 'emms' instructions.
 - Add a few rules to the SSE backend.


Download: http://www.schleef.org/orc/download/
GIT: http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~ds/orc
Documentation: http://www.schleef.org/orc/documentation/

ORC - The Oil Runtime Compiler

(and OIL stands for Optimized Inner Loops)

Entropy Wave Inc (http://entropywave.com/) presents Orc, the sucessor
to Liboil - The Library of Optimized Inner Loops.

Orc is a library and set of tools for compiling and executing
very simple programs that operate on arrays of data.  The "language"
is a generic assembly language that represents many of the features
available in SIMD architectures, including saturated addition and
subtraction, and many arithmetic operations.

At this point, developers interested in using Orc should look at the
examples and try out a few Orc programs in an experimental branch
of their own projects.  And provide feedback on how it works.  There
will likely be some major changes in ease of use from a developer's
perspective over the next few releases.

The 0.4 series of Orc releases will be API and ABI compatible, and
will be incompatible with the 0.5 series when it comes out.  It is
anticipated that 0.5 will follow in a few months.


 - Users can create, compile, and run simple programs that use the
   vector extensions of the CPU, all directly from an application.

 - Users can compile Orc programs to assembly source code to be
   compiled and used without linking against the Orc library.

 - The generic assembly language can be extended by an application
   by adding new opcodes.

 - An application can add rules for converting existing or new opcodes
   to binary code for a specific target.

 - Current targets: SSE, MMX, ARM, Altivec.  (ARM is very limited.)
   The NEON and TI c64x+ DSP targets are not open source and can be
   licensed separately from Entropy Wave.

 - Programs can optionally be emulated, which is useful for testing, or
   if no rules are available to convert Orc opcodes to executable code.

Questions and Answers:

 - Q: Why not let gcc vectorize my code?

   A: Two reasons: first, since Orc's assembly language is much more
   restrictive than C, Orc can generate better code than gcc, and
   second, Orc can generate code for functions you define at runtime.
   Many algorithms require gluing together several stages of operations,
   and if each stage has several options, the total amount of code to
   cover all combinations could be inconveniently large.

 - Q: Why not use compiler intrinsics for SIMD code?

   A: Compiler intrinsics only work for one target, and need to be
   hand written.  Plus, some compilers are very picky about source
   code that uses intrinsics, and will silently produce slow code.
   And, of course, you can't compile intrinsics at runtime.

 - Q: How big is the Orc library?

   A: Compiled with only one target (SSE), the library size is about
   86 kB uncompressed, or 30 kB compressed.  The goal is to keep the
   uncompressed size under about 100 kB.

Caveats (Known Bugs):

 - ?

Future directions:

 - Addition of more complex loop control and array structures.

 - Addition of an option to compile the Orc library with only the
   runtime features for a single target, e.g., for embedded systems.
 - Addition of rewrite rules, which convert an instruction that cannot
   be converted to binary code into a series of instructions that can.
   This is necessary since assembly instructions on most targets do
   not cover all the features of the Orc assembly language.

About Entropy Wave:

Entropy Wave creates tools that allow content producers and distributors
use open video technology.  Through use of open source software like
GStreamer and Dirac, Entropy Wave's customers save money on licensing
costs for encoding and streaming video on the web.  Entropy Wave was
founded in 2008 by long-time open source developer David Schleef.

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