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This manual describes the floating-point software and hardware for the SPARC®, Intel®, and PowerPCTM (processor-based system) architectures. It is primarily a reference manual designed to accompany SunTM language products.

Certain aspects of the IEEE Standard for Binary Floating-Point Arithmetic are discussed in this manual. To learn about IEEE arithmetic, see the 18-page Standard. See Appendix G, "References," on page 237, for a brief bibliography on IEEE arithmetic.

This guide describes the floating-point environment supported through a combination of software and hardware by the Solaris operating system running on SPARC, Intel, and PowerPC systems. This guide refers to compiler products that are components of the Sun WorkShop CompilersTM 4.2 release.

Operating Environments

Sun WorkShop Compilers 4.2, described here, run under Solaris 2.x operating environment for SPARC, Intel, and PowerPC systems.


This manual is written for those who develop, maintain, and port mathematical and scientific applications or benchmarks. Before using this manual, you should be familiar with the programming language used (FORTRAN, C, etc.), dbx (the source-level debugger), and the operating system commands and concepts.


The examples in this manual are in C and FORTRAN, but the concepts apply for either compiler on a SPARC, Intel, or PowerPC system.

The David Goldberg paper is now Appendix E, "What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating Point Arithmetic," in this guide.

Typographic Convention

The following table describes the typographic conventions used in this book.

Table  P-1 Typographic Conventions

Typeface or Symbol


The names of commands, files, and directories; on-screen computer output

Edit your .login file.

Use ls -a to list all files.

machine_name% You have mail.


What you type, contrasted with on-screen computer output

machine_name% su



Command-line placeholder:

replace with a real name or value

To delete a file, type rm filename.


Book titles, new words or terms, or words to be emphasized

Read Chapter 6 in User's Guide. These are called class options.

You must be root to do this.

Shell Prompts in Command Examples

The following table shows the default system prompt and superuser prompt for the C shell, Bourne shell, and Korn shell.

Table  P-2 Shell Prompts


C shell prompt


C shell superuser prompt


Bourne shell and Korn shell prompt


Bourne shell and Korn shell superuser prompt


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