Sunday, 19 January 2020

seteq and setne instructions

Because the C99 standard (and newer) requires [section 6.5.8] comparison operators like < > <= => and logical (non-bitwise) operators like && and || to return either zero or one even though any non-zero value in a logical expression will be treated as true the code that my C-compiler generates for the operators is rather bulky, just to stay standard compliant.

The reason for this is because I have not implemented any convenient instruction to convert a non-zero value to one. So the code for the return statement in the code below

void showcase_compare(int a){
 return a == 42;

is converted to the assembly snippet show below (a is R2, 42 in r3)

        load    flags,#alu_cmp      ; binop(==)
        alu     r2,r3,r2            
        beq     post_0003           ; equal
        move    r2,0,0              
        bra     post_0004           
        move    r2,0,1              
So in order to get a proper one or zero we always have to branch.

Seteq and setne

To prevent this kind of unnecessary branching I added two new instructions to the Robin cpu: seteq and setne that set the contents of a register to either zero or one depending on the zero flag. The compiler can now use these instructions to simplify the code to:

        load    flags,#alu_cmp      ; binop(==)
        alu     r2,r3,r2            
        seteq   r2
This saves not only 3 instructions in code size, but also 2 or 3 instructions being executed (2 if equal, 3 if not equal).

Setpos and setmin

To complete the set and make it easier to produce code for the < <= > and >= operators the setpos and setmin instructions are also implemented.

CPU design

The CPU design as currently implemented largely follows the diagram shown below. It features a 16 x 32bit register file and 16 bit instructi...