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Multicolour special feature #3
MiKRO of Mystic Bytes writes about GCC 3.3.6 useage and opmiziations during development of Falcon Quake.
Published September 29, 2006

GCC 3.3.6 useage for Atari projects
Miro Kropacek , miro.kropacek(at)
  1. Preface
  2. Setting up stuff for cross compiling
  3. Optimizing binutils + gcc
  4. Final notes



Week or two ago I decided to try new gcc-3.3.6 for Atari Falcon. The main reason was to see how much it helps with quake compilation, i.e. if the code will be at least a little bit faster. So I downloaded Zorro's binaries ( and tried it. It worked pretty well but I noticed the compilation process is slower than with gcc-2.95.3 even with the same compilation flags (not speaking about -O3 flag).
After some thinking and playing with gcc's configure I've seen some chances to speed up that compilation time: whole gcc is compiled for bare 68000 without FPU! (except m68020 and m68020-60 libraries but this is a minor thing). And even more, whole project is compiled with -O2 flag so again we can do something with this (replace with -O3 flag). And finally, whole gcc-3.3.6 is compiled using gcc-2.95.3... So we need to do three things:
- compile gcc-3.3.6 against gcc-3.3.6 and not gcc-2.95.3
- replace -O2 flag with -O3 one
- add -m68060 flag to produce 68060 optimized code
After look at Patrice Mandin's tutorial ( I haven't seen any problem with this "fix" so I started gcc-3.3.6 compilation... and here it comes: to reach all three targets we need to compile gcc-3.3.6 with old 2.95.3 compiler and then compile gcc-3.3.6 (again) with our new gcc-3.3.6 compiler (with new -m68060 and -O3 flags). This procedure includes also compiling mintlib with similar flags (since gcc uses part of mintlib) to have the maximum performance and probably we want to have newer binutils (2.16.1), too (with the same optimizations). You see the problem: 68060@100 MHz is quite powerfull CPU but where raw power comes into play we'll soon notice its age (more than 10 years), i.e. slowness. Solution is on the hand: cross compilation.
There are some m68k-atari-mint cross compilers available ( but they are pretty old, too. So we need to compile new gcc-3.3.6 cross compiler and then, using this compiler, to compile native gcc-3.3.6 compiler for atari. All in all we need ot build three compilers:
1. native host compiler (host = linux, bsd, ...)
2. native cross m68k-atari-mint compiler
3. atari compiler
This procedure (generating (cross)compiler for the host which differs from the build machine) is called Canadian Cross.

Setting up stuff for cross compiling

So now we know what we need to do. I used mentioned Patrice Mandin's tutorial for native gcc-3.3.6 and cross gcc-3.3.3 ( so there will be some passages very similar.
OK, so here is step-by-step tutorial how to reach our target:
1. Download source code + patches
gcc-3.3.6 package: (22.9 MB)
binutils-2.16.1 package: (12.0 MB)
gcc-3.3.6 patch:
binutils-2.16.1 patch:
MiNTLib binary snapshot: (2.7 MB) [already compiled against gcc-3.3.6 -O3]
2. Compile native binutils + gcc for host
It's possible on your host machine (linux etc) is already gcc installed. Believe me, this step is really good idea even when it's gcc installed -- you'll avoid problems with version-incompatibility (gcc-4.x.x has more restrictive rules for pointer arithmetics) and there are even more problems (finding the right paths etc).
tar xjf binutils-2.16.1.tar.bz2
rm binutils-2.16.1.tar.bz2

mkdir binutils-2.16.1-linux
cd binutils-2.16.1-linux
../binutils-2.16.1/configure --prefix=$HOME/cross-tools
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf binutils-2.16.1-linux

tar xjf gcc-3.3.6.tar.bz2
rm gcc-3.3.6.tar.bz2

We set PATH variable to point to our newly created directory. That means if
you type "ar", "gcc" etc in the end, shell will use this ones and not
/usr/bin/ar, /usr/bin/gcc etc.

export PATH=$HOME/cross-tools/bin:$PATH

mkdir gcc-3.3.6-linux
cd gcc-3.3.6-linux
../gcc-3.3.6/configure --prefix=$HOME/cross-tools --enable-languages="c"
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf gcc-3.3.6-linux

3. Compile cross binutils + gcc for host
OK, now we have native linux gcc + binutils. We can start phase two, making cross compiler.

cd binutils-2.16.1
gunzip -c ../binutils-2.16.1-mint-4.diff.gz | patch -p1
cd ..

rm binutils-2.16.1-mint-4.diff.gz

mkdir binutils-2.16.1-cross
../binutils-2.16.1/configure --prefix=$HOME/cross-tools --target=m68k-atari-mint
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf binutils-2.16.1-cross

cd gcc-3.3.6
gunzip -c ../gcc-c-3.3.6.diff.gz | patch -p1
cd ..

rm gcc-c-3.3.6.diff.gz

tar xjf mintlib-current.tar.bz2
rm mintlib-current.tar.bz2

mkdir gcc-3.3.6-cross
../gcc-3.3.6/configure --prefix=$HOME/cross-tools --enable-languages="c" --target=m68k-atari-mint --with-sysroot=/path/to/mintlib-current
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf gcc-3.3.6-cross
4. Compile native binutils + gcc for Atari
OK, cross compiler done. Now we're going to the most interesting part, building native atari stuff. Gcc has a support for cross compilation in any way so you can specify:
- host: on what machine will be gcc running
- target: for what machine will be the code generated
- build: on what machine is gcc build
If we specify host (default guessed via configure script), target will be used with the same name. But you _HAVE_ to specify build machine by hand! If you aren't sure about the name of your build machine, go to $HOME/cross-tools and look at something which looks similar to your machine :) (you'll see m68k-atari-mint directory, some system ones like usr, bin and the host machine directory -- this is the one you're looking for)

mkdir binutils-2.16.1-atari
../binutils-2.16.1/configure --prefix=$HOME/atari-binutils --host=m68k-atari-mint --build=i686-pc-linux-gnu
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf binutils-2.16.1-atari

mkdir gcc-3.3.6-atari
../gcc-3.3.6/configure --prefix=$HOME/atari-gcc --enable-languages="c" --host=m68k-atari-mint --build=i686-pc-linux-gnu
make && make install
cd ..

rm -rf gcc-3.3.6-atari

And we're done -- binaries for your Atari are in $HOME/atari-gcc and $HOME/atari-binutils.

Optimizing binutils + gcc

As I said, there are various options how to speed gcc (and binutils) up:
- add -m68060 flag
- replace -O2 with -O3 flag
- remove -g flag (this will decrease binary size a lot; we really don't need debug symbols in gcc binaries...)
1. Binutils
This is really easy. Just replace 'make' command with:
make BOOT_CFLAGS="-O3 -m68060" CFLAGS="-O3 -m68060" CFLAGS_FOR_TARGET="-O3 -m68060"
2. Gcc
Here we have to care about various things: gcc building process needs some things to build on linux in all cases and the rest on cross compiler. Then it needs to build a library for various targets (m68020, m68020-60, mshort, ...) so we can't just replace all CFLAGS as in previous case.
So go to gcc-3.3.6-atari directory and:
- In the Makefile file:
- set CFLAGS = -O3 (replace O2 and remove -g)
- set CC = m68k-atari-mint-gcc -m68060 (add -m68060)
- replace -O2 to -O3 in CFLAGS_FOR_TARGET - set CFLAGS = -O3 in libiberty/Makefile
- replace -O2 to -O3 & delete -g for: LIBGCC2_FLAGS, CRTSTUFF_CFLAGS, LIBGCC2_DEBUG_CFLAGS in gcc/Makefile
- set CFLAGS = -O3 -m68060 in gcc/intl/Makefile
I recommend to make these steps after configure script in the clean directory (there will be some Makefiles generated).

Final notes

You don't need to delete directories in the cross building process (gcc-3.3.6-cross, gcc-3.3.6-atari etc) since you can re-run configure with various prefix, install into separate directory and make binary package (rpm, deb, ...) for this build.
Of course, this tutorial isn't for total beginners, I expect you have installed some development environemnt both on your Linux and Atari.
I didn't focused on g++ since I don't need it :) But the process is very similar, just follow Patrice's g++ tutorial about 3.3.6 version...
Final results are very good, I've got about 30% speedup by quake compilation. Imagine MiNTLib compilation speedup :) But don't forget all this stuff isn't tested very well so be carefull. Only thing I can confirm that raw gcc-3.3.6 works good -- i.e. I used gcc-3.3.6 binary for compiling earch source file but I used old binutils for the rest.
Enjoy :)
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