C codebases frequently embed nonportable and unstandardized elements such as inline assembly code. Such elements are not well understood, which poses a problem to tool developers who aspire to support C code. This paper investigates the use of x86-64 inline assembly in 1264 C projects from GitHub and combines qualitative and quantitative analyses to answer questions that tool authors may have. We found that 28.1% of the most popular projects contain inline assembly code, although the majority contain only a few fragments with just one or two instructions. The most popular instructions constitute a small subset concerned largely with multicore semantics, performance optimization, and hardware control. Our findings are intended to help developers of C-focused tools, those testing compilers, and language designers seeking to reduce the reliance on inline assembly. They may also aid the design of tools focused on inline assembly itself.
Sun 25 Mar
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Manuel RiggerJohannes Kepler University Linz, Stefan MarrUniversity of Kent, Stephen KellUniversity of Cambridge, David LeopoldsederJohannes Kepler University Linz, Hanspeter MössenböckJKU Linz, AustriaLink to publication Pre-print Media Attached