Tool Comparison

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This is a comparison of various operating system development tools.

x86 Assemblers

Syntax Output Format Instruction Set
AT&T Intel ELF a.out COFF flat 16 bit 32 bit 64 bit
GAS Yes Yes[1] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[2] Yes Yes[3]
NASM No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[4]
YASM Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FASM No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
JWASM No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MASM[5] No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[6]
Sol_asm No Yes[7] Yes No n/a Yes Yes Yes Yes
WASM No Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes
AS86 No Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes No
llvm-mc Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
  •   using the .intel_syntax directive. Several opcodes will still use the AT&T name.
  •   While GAS normally writes only "pure" 32-bit i386 code, it has limited support for writing code to run in real mode or in 16-bit protected mode code segments.
  •   You have to choose the instruction set at compile time (of the assembler). GAS can not assemble for more than one operating mode at a time, i.e. you would need one GAS for 32bit and one GAS for 64bit if you'd want to mix those two.
  •   64-bit support is only available in NASM 2.x.
  •   Because of the license it may be illegal to use MASM for "non-windows development"
  •   64-bit support is only available in a separate executable, named ml64.
  •   Sol_Asm uses its own syntax, which looks like the Intel syntax.

Compilers

Extensions Output format
Inline Assembly ELF a.out flat PE COFF 16-bit code segments 32-bit code segments 64-bit code segments
GCC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  ? Yes Yes
Clang Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
msvc Yes No No No[8] Yes Yes Version 4.X Yes Yes
icl Yes No No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Watcom Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Smaller C Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes (incl. huge & unreal mode(l)s) Yes No
  •   Visual Studio can emit .COM files.

Linkers

Name Input Output Flat Binary Images Set Code Address Library Support Supports Debug Info 32bit Code
OMF/ OBJ Win32/ COFF ELF A.OUT Others Win32/ PE Win32/ DLL ELF A.OUT Others
JLoc Yes No No No No DOS/COM Yes Yes No OMF/OBJ Yes
ALink Yes Yes No No DJGPP/COFF Yes Yes No No DOS/COM DOS/EXE No Yes Yes No Yes
LD Yes Yes Yes Yes DJGPP/COFF OMF/COFF Yes Yes Yes Yes various Yes Yes Yes ECOFF DWARF STABS Yes
TLink Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No No DOS/EXE DOS/COM No Yes Yes OMF/OBJ Yes
Link Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No No DOS/EXE DOS/COM LE No Yes Yes CODEVIEW DWARF Yes
VAL Yes No No No No DOS/EXE No No No Yes No
WLink Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No DOS/EXE DOS/COM LE Pharlap Novell_NLM Causeway QNX Yes Yes Yes WATCOM CODEVIEW DWARF Yes
smlrl No No Yes No Yes No Yes Yes DOS/COM DOS/EXE MACH-O Yes Yes Yes No Yes
LLD Yes Yes Yes Yes
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