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I thought bitcode backwards compat included that too. If it didn't, Apple's collecting bitcode for watch apps for transparent 64-bit support wouldn't work.

It's possible to try to support that, but you can never be sure.

For example, imagine that LLVM has a known bug with some pass, and it has a workaround somewhere else that disables generating IR that would hit that bug. A different version of LLVM may fix that bug, and remove the workaround - but then optimizing bitcode from another version could be vulnerable.

Another example is undefined behavior in LLVM IR. It may be handled differently in different versions, and it's hard to know what might happen from mixing them.

In general, LLVM is heavily tested - on each revision. I'm not aware of any large-scale project that tests all LLVM versions on LLVM IR from all other versions. That's untested. I'd be afraid to rely on that.

I don't know what Apple does with user-supplied bitcode, but if I were them I'd be recompiling old bitcode with the old LLVM that matches it, or something else (like subset the bitcode to remove undefined behavior, etc.).

I found a LLVM IR incompatibility once, and it was already fixed. It seems some checks run for compatibility with released versions. I'm not sure whether they're entirely automatic and systematic, but they do happen.

However, the way I found it is that it affected the random version of LLVM trunk stable rustc was using at the time... That's one of the reasons why stable rust should stay away from LLVM trunk.

Apple has their own toolchain, don't apply FOSS variant of clang to how XCode clang actually works, only cherry picked features get upstream.

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