Exploring LLVM

Get an overview of the LLVM infrastructure and its advantages.

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What is LLVM?

LLVM is a part of the LLVM Project. The LLVM Project hosts compilers and toolchain technologies. The LLVM core is a part of the LLVM Project. The LLVM core is responsible for providing source- and target-independent optimization and for generating code for many CPU architectures. This enables language developers to just create a frontend that generates an LLVM-compatible IR or LLVM IR from the source language.

Did You Know?

LLVM is not an acronym. When the research project was first started, it meant Low-Level Virtual Machine. But later, it was decided to use the name as it is rather than as an acronym.

The main advantages of LLVM are as follows:

  • LLVM uses a simple low-level language that looks similar to C.

  • LLVM is strongly typed.

  • LLVM has strictly defined semantics.

  • LLVM has accurate and precise garbage collection.

  • LLVM provides various optimizations that we can choose based on the requirement. It has aggressive, scalar, inter-procedural, simple-loop, and profile-driven optimizations.

  • LLVM provides various compilation models. They are link time, install time, runtime, and offline.

  • LLVM generates machine code for various target architectures.

  • LLVM provides DWARF debugging information.

Note: DWARF is a debugging file format used by many compilers and debuggers to support source-level debugging. DWARF is architecture-independent and applicable to any processor or operating system. It uses a data structure called a Debugging Information Entry (DIE) to represent each variable, type, procedure, and so on.

If you want to explore more about DWARF, click Here.

Note: LLVM is not a single monolithic project. It’s a collection of subprojects and other projects. These projects are used by various languages—such as Ruby, Python, Haskell, Rust, and D—for compilation.