Using TCF

General sescription

Currently GNU toolchain has a partial support for TCF, however it is not complete and in particular scenarios TCFs cannot be used as-is.

If you are using Eclipse IDE for ARC, please refer to a Building User Guide. Eclipse IDE for ARC supports only GCC compiler and GNU linker script sections of TCF, it doesn’t support preprocessor defines sections as of version 2016.03.

If you are using GNU toolchain without IDE on Linux hosts you can use a special script arc-elf32-tcf-gcc (for big-endian toolchain this file has arceb- prefix) that is located in the same bin directory as rest of the toolchain executable files. This executable accepts all of the same options as GCC driver and also an option --tcf <PATH/TO/TCF>. arc-elf32-tcf-gcc will extract compiler options, linker script and preprocessor defines from TCF and will pass them to GCC along with other options.

  • GCC options from gcc_compiler section will be passed as-is, but can be overridden by -m<something> options passed directly to arc-elf32-tcf-gcc.
  • GNU linker script will be extracted from gnu_linker_command_file will be used as a memory.x file for -Wl,marcv2elfx linker emulation. Option -Wl,-marcv2elfx is added by this wrapper - there is no need to pass it explicitly.
  • Preprocessor defines from section C_defines will be passed with -include option of GCC.

arc-elf32-tcf-gcc is a Perl script that requires XML:LibXML package. It is likely to work on most Linux hosts, however it will not work on Windows hosts, unless Perl with required library has been installed and added to the PATH environment variable. TCF is a text file in XML format, so in case of need it is trivial to extract compiler flags and linker script from TCF and use them directly with GCC and ld without IDE or wrapper script.

Value of -mcpu= option is selected by TCF generator to have best match with the target processor. This option Understanding GCC -mcpu option not only sets various hardware options but also selects a particular build of standard library. Values of hardware extensions can be overridden with individual -m* options, but that will not change standard library to a matching build - it still will use standard library build selected by -mcpu= value.

Compiler options

GCC options are stored in the gcc_compiler section of TCF. These options are passed to GCC as-is. These are “machine-specific” options applicable only to ARC, and which define configuration of target architecture - which of the optional hardware extensions (like bitscan instructions, barrel shifter instructions, etc) are present. Application that uses hardware extensions will not work on ARC processor without those extensions - there will be an Illegal instruction exception (although application may emulate instruction via handling of this exception, but that is out of scope of this document). Application that doesn’t use hardware extensions present in the target ARC processor might be ineffective, if those extensions allow more optimal implementation of same algorithm. Usually hardware extensions allow improvement of both code size and performance at the expense of increased gate count, with all respective consequences.

When TCF is selected in the IDE respective compiler options are disabled in GUI and cannot be changed by user. However if TCF is deselected those options remain at selected values, so it is possible to “import” options from TCF and then modify it for particular need.

When using arc-elf32-tcf-gcc compiler options passed to this wrapper script has a higher precedence then options in TCF, so it is possible to use TCF as a “baseline” and then modify if needed.

Memory map

Please refer to main page about GNU linker for ARC Linker scripts and memory.x files for more details.

TCF doesn’t contain a linker script for GNU linker in the strict meaning of this term. Instead TCF contains a special memory map, which can be used together with a linker emulation called arcv2elfx. This linker emulation reads a special file called memory.x to get several defines which denote location of particular memory areas, and then emulation allocates ELF sections to those areas. So, for example, memory.x may specify address and size of ICCM and DCCM memories and linker would put code sections into ICCM and data sections to DCCM. TCF contains this memory.x file as content of gnu_linker_command_file section. IDE and arc-elf32-tcf-gcc simply create this file and specify to linker to use arcv2elfx emulation. This is done by passing option -marcv2elfx to linker, but note that when invoking gcc driver it is required to specify this option as -Wl,-marcv2elfx, so driver would know that this is an option to pass to linker.

It is very important that memory map in TCF matches the one in the hardware, otherwise application will not work. By default linker places all application code and data as a continuous sections starting from address 0x0. Designs with CCMs usually has ICCM mapped at address 0x0, and DCCM at addresses >= 0x8000_0000 (or simply an upper half of address space, which can be less then 32 bits wide). If application has both code and data put into ICCM, it may technically work (load/store unit in ARC has a port to ICCM), however this underutilizes DCCM and creates a risk of memory overflow where code and data will not fit into the ICCM, so overflown content will be lost, likely causing an error message in simulator or in debugger. For this reason it is recommended to use memory.x file from TCF when linking applications that use CCM memory. Typically TCF-generator would automatically assign instruction memory area to ICCM and data memory area to DCCM, because parameters of those memories can be read from BCRs, although it doesn’t support such features as ICCM1 or NV ICCM.

When memory is connected via external memory bus TCF-generator cannot know where memory will be actually located, so it will put all sections continuously, starting from address 0. This is basically same as what happens when no memory map has been passed to linker. Therefore memory map in such TCF is effectively useless, instead it is needed to manually enter a proper memory map into “gnu_linker_command_file” section. However when using an nSIM simulator such TCF will work nice, as it will make nSIM simulate whole address space, so there is no risk that application will be loaded into unexisting address.

When using IDE there is an option to ignore memory map specified in TCF and use default memory mapping or custom linker script. This is the default setting - to ignore linker script embedded into TCF. However if target design uses closely-coupled memories then it is highly advised to use memory map (embedded into TCF or manually written).

C preprocessor defines

TCF section C_defines contains preprocessor defines that specify presence of various hardware optional extensions and values of Build Configuration Registers. arc-elf32-tcf-gcc wrapper extracts content of this section into temporary file and includes into compiled files via -include option of GCC.

arc-elf32-tcf-gcc options


Overwrites the default compiler name. The compiler tool chain needs to be in the PATH. Default value depends on the name of this file - it will call compiler that has the same name, only without -tcf part. Therefore:

  • arc-elf32-tcf-gcc -> arc-elf32-gcc
  • arceb-elf32-tcf-gcc -> arceb-elf32-gcc
  • arc-linux-tcf-gcc -> arc-linux-gcc
  • arceb-linux-tcf-gcc -> arceb-linux-gcc
  • arc-a-b-tcf-gcc -> arc-a-b-gcc
  • arc-tcf-elf32-tcf-gcc -> arc-tcf-elf32-gcc

The name and the location of the TCF file.


Verbose output. Prints the compiler invokation command.