Free Pascal speeding along
The latest version of Free Pascal, version 2.0.2, has been released. According to the developers, â€œin combination with the Lazarus development environment, Free Pascal can be considered the ultimate desktop development tool.â€
Free Pascal builds on the long tradition of the Pascal language, first invented in 1970 by Niklaus Wirth, and named in honour of 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal. It builds on the 1980\’s to 1990\’s success of TurboPascal and the modern Borland Pascal environments, Delphi and Kylix. Unlike Borland\’s environments, Pascal is an open source project, competing more with the Gnu C compiler (GCC).
Although byte code â€“ used today by managed languages like Java and .Net â€“ was originally a Pascal initiative, Pascal uses pre-compiled code (called an unmanaged language) to get extra performance out of software developed for a specific environment.
According to the Free Pascal development team, â€œthe compiler is well suited to compile very large software projects consisting of millions lines of code. Developers of those projects will be very pleased with the speed of the compiler, which is many times faster than GCC. The Free Pascal compiler is the most advanced open source compiler engine besides GCC.â€
Free Pascal supports multiple environments, including Windows, FreeBSD, Linux and Mac; and will run on a wide range of processors, from 32-bit and 64-bit Intel through to ARM, PowerPC and Sparc.
The new version is not a major upgrade over version 2.0.0 released in May â€“ primarily bug and compatibility fixes. Database support has been improved, as has tuning for SSE. Free Pascal will prove to be an interesting project to watch, especially for developers who demand speed above all else from their applications.