I wrote about a project built on LLVM, VMKit, on Monday so was clearly primed for this bit of news, that LLVM itself has pushed out a new release. John Timmer at Ars Technica covers the details. As Timmer notes, 2.7 is a major milestone for the project. Its Clang compiler, which provides support for C, C++ and Objective-C, is far enough along now for LLVM to be built using LLVM via the Clang front end. This is known as bootstrapping and is a key step in the maturation of a compiler.
Timmer also explains Apple’s involvement with LLVM yielding high quality support for Objective-C and for the ARM processor, including that chip architecture’s vector instruction set, NEON. He’s very clear in pointing out that Apple is not the only software vendor supporting and building on LLVM. Unladen Swallow, Google’s attempt at speeding up Python for their numerous projects using that language, is also built on top of LLVM.
I am delighted that LLVM has the potential to run and compile code written for Apple’s OS on other platforms. This is possible because of the shared ancestry of Cocoa and GNUstep. I doubt this helps much with the newer iPhone OS but I’d be curious to see if an LLVM based project evolves that helps make such applications more portable. It would be a nice end run around Apple’s ridiculous policy against code generators and 3rd party interpreters.
There are a lot more details in Timmer’s post as well as in the release notes.