Posted in 2023

Exploring the New 6502 Compiler Based on LLVM

Today, homebrew developers enjoy the convenience of programming the 6502 in C. However, the 6502 is a very different architecture than modern CPUs, and was never designed for C programming.

The 6502 has a small number of 8-bit registers, and limited addressing modes that cannot access the stack efficiently. This makes it difficult to retarget a modern C compiler to the 6502.

In a previous blog post, we explored the process of retargeting a microcontroller C compiler (SDCC) to the 6502. This required development of a brand new code generation backend, which required looking at over 80,000 lines of code. Gabriele Gorla has since improved it to the point where it has been merged into the main SDCC repository.

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Will ChatGPT replace retro programmers?

An LLM (Large Language Model) is an artificial neural network that statistically models the structure of text. It’s typically trained on a huge corpus of textual data, and tuned for a specific task, like an AI chat assistant (ChatGPT) or a programming helper (Copilot).

I created 8bitworkshop to make it easy for people to explore obsolete technologies. So I wondered: is the latest AI technology going to make the programmers of obsolete technologies obsolete themselves?

tl;dr: Not yet.

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