Reverse compilation of DSP code (A Johnstone)
5 Feb 1999 17:18:53 -0500

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From: (A Johnstone)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers,comp.dsp,
Date: 5 Feb 1999 17:18:53 -0500
Organization: Royal Holloway, University of London
Keywords: disassemble, question, comment

Apologies if this is a FAQ but it's a bit outside my normal area.

We are doing a job for some friends that have large quantities of
assembler level code written for the 16-bit Analog Devices 21xx series
chips. They are looking move to the more advanced 32-bit devices now
available from Texas and Analog. These devices have creditable C
compilers - indeed hand coded assembler for the TI chip is very hard
since it's a VLIW - so they want to write in C in future.

The idea is that we reverse compile their assembler code into C so
that they can recompile it for the new architecture. In detail, it is
not clear at this stage whether the decompiled code would be used as
the basis of a clean rewrite by a human or be directly incorporated
into new products.

Most knowledgable people's initial reaction is one of horror, but we
managed to construct a quick-and-dirty translator that we've produced
using our RDP parser generator and a few tree walk passes. It's
compact and efective.

Question is: where is the other work in this area? Do there exist
commercial tools to help with this translation task (lots of people
must be following the same route of migrating to these new
architectures and wanting to take their intellectual property with
them). I know that there is work on converting amongst Cobol dialects
and other forms of source-to-source translation where the sources are
semantically similar.

Any pointers gratefully received. If I find out much, I'll make a Web
page like my one on backtrack parsers.

Dr Adrian Johnstone, Senior Lecturer in Computing, Computer Science Dep,
Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, England.
Email Tel:+44(0)1784 443425 Fax:+44(0)1784 439786
[Interesting question. I get a lot of inquiries who want to decompile
object code (usually Windows gamez) which is close to impossible, but I'd
think there's be a lot more info in assembler source to use. The classic
tool is Autocoder to Cobol which turned 1401 assembler into Cobol, and
apparently worked pretty well. -John]

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