Key open-source programming tool due for overhaul

The entire realm of open-source software could get a performance boost if all goes well with a plan to overhaul a crucial programming tool called GCC.

Almost all open-source software is built with GCC, a compiler that converts a program's source code--the commands written by humans in high-level languages such as C--into the binary instructions a computer understands. The forthcoming GCC 4.0 includes a new foundation that will allow that translation to become more sophisticated, said Mark Mitchell, the GCC 4 release manager and "chief sourcerer" of a small company called CodeSourcery.

"The primary purpose of 4.0 was to build an optimization infrastructure that would allow the compiler to generate much better code," Mitchell said. Compilers are rarely noticed outside the software development community, but GCC carries broad significance. For one thing, an improved GCC could boost performance for the open-source software realm--everything from Linux and Firefox to OpenOffice.org and Apache that collectively compete with proprietary competitors from Microsoft, IBM and others.

News source: C|Net News.com

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