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Re^4: Why Perl 6 is taking so !@#$ long

by tirwhan (Abbot)
on Feb 28, 2006 at 15:40 UTC ( #533387=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^3: Why Perl 6 is taking so !@#$ long
in thread Why Perl 6 is taking so !@#$ long

I think the main problem is that any VM written in a higher-level language will be too slow for practical use. That's why the Java VM and Mono are written in C (and .Net is written in C++?). The compiler doesn't matter so much, it's only involved once in the execution process and can be written in a higher-level language, but for the actual runtime you need to get as close to the metal as you can which means writing it in C.


All dogma is stupid.


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Re^5: Why Perl 6 is taking so !@#$ long
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Feb 28, 2006 at 17:11 UTC
    I think the main problem is that any VM written in a higher-level language will be too slow for practical use.

    Take a good look at the performance of alternatives to C in the benchmarks at the GCS when doing VM like things.

    In many, maybe most cases, C is left behind by compilers for languages like Haskell, Erlang, OCaml, SML, and my favorite Clean.

    When you combine their deeply analysing and heavily optimising compilers, with their freeing the programmer from so much of the low-level housekeeping like memory management, using almost any of them to create a VM interpreter would be a win in terms of productivity.

    It may be that you would want to hand code the dispatch loops and JIT compilers in C or even assembler--maybe--to squeeze out the final ounce of performance, but you retain those generated by the compiler/hll for debug and benchmark purposes.

    C does can produce very fast compiled code--in the hands of exceptionally proficient programmers--but that performance comes at a huge cost in terms of productivity. Coding yet another set of memory management, allocation/deallocation infrastructure, debug and trace routines et al. And when things do go wrong it requires a special breed of immensely skilled and dedicated practitioners to investigate and track down the causes.

    Most of us here recognise the benefits of using high(er) level languages with in-built memory management and revel in the freedoms that gives us. It seems silly to eshew those benefits for writing the vast majority of the infrastructure and kernel of a VM. Better to write in a HLL for reliability and productivity and reserve C for tuning the performance critical parts.


    Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
    Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
    "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
    In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
      If and only if you can have those compilers emit this C code to be compiled on other platforms. That's the big issue with writing the VM in non-C.

      My criteria for good software:
      1. Does it work?
      2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
        If and only if you can have those compilers emit this C code to be compiled on other platforms.

        I'm not sure that I understand you. Do you mean that it would only be acceptable to use a non-C compiler (say Haskell) if instead of producing a binary for the platform it is running on, it produced C source that could be distributed and compiled on any platform?


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

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