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FreeBSD on Latest ARM Processors - EABI and Toolchain Approach

Vassilis Laganakos
Author Description:
Vassilis is a renegade Physicist, where during his studies got involved with Unix/Linux and was/is thrilled to be involved with the Open Source community. He has 6 years experience in administrating and working with Linux and Unix platforms in networked environments. He got his MSc in Advanced Computer Science from The University of Manchester (UK), where he focused in High Performance Computing and Micro-Kernel operation and principles. His main role at ARM includes kernel and user-space work on verticals, as well as investigating the use of Open Source tools to enable ARM-based platforms.
This talk is about the procedure and gotchas on creating an ARM cross-compilation tool chain for FreeBSD, in order to allow building ARM code that supports latest ARMv6 and ARMv7 features - as part of the new ARM EABI (Embedded Application Binary Interface). We cover the benefits of ARM new ABI compared to the old ABI and why it should be used moving forward. GCC 4.4 is the tool chain that was used with this exercise, while LLVM was also briefly checked out.

Such a tool chain enables to take full advantage of the latest ARM CPU features, such as SIMD extensions on ARMv6 and NEON extensions on ARMv7; It also enables stand-alone cross-developing and cross-building of applications for ARM-based FreeBSD targets, without the need of a target board. Once it is integrated with the build system, it allows building of FreeBSD to run on the latest ARM-based boards such as nVidia's Tegra-2, Texas Instrument's BeagleBoard and FreeScale's i/MX51platforms.

Information is given on the port’s status and the outstanding changes for the FreeBSD kernel to take full advantage of the latest ARM CPU features, such as multiprocessor and Thumb-2.
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