ml.part.iv

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*   MACHINE LANGUAGE TUTORIAL PART IV *
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The CMP command

CMP stands for CoMPare accumulator. It 
has an immediate mode. In immediate    
mode, what happens is this: the value  
of the arguement is subtracted from the
contents of the accumulator and this   
result is dicarded except for the      
effects on the zero, negative and carry
flags. English translation immediately 
following.

We'll take it slowly. The value of the 
arguement is the byte following the    
operator. This value is subtracted from
the contents of the accumulator. Say   
the arguement is $40 and the           
accumulator holds $60. $40 is          
subtracted from $60 and you get $20.   
Now supposing the arguement value is   
greater than the value in the          
accumulator, that is $60 is subtracted 
from $40. Doing this algebraicly, you  
would get -$20, but the accumulator can
only hold numbers from zero to 255. So 
what happens is that the microprocessor
adds $100 to it. -$20+$100=$D0. And    
from this number, the flags take thier 
cues. By the way, this resulting number
is thrown out and forgotten about.

What are flags??

The flags that were mentioned live in  
the status register. Also called the   
'p' register. This register is an 8-bit
register and a flag is one of these    
bits. However, even though there are   
eight bits in the register, there are  
only seven flags. These flags are:
1> Carry
2> Zero
3> Interupt disable
4> Decimal mode
5> Break command
6> Overflow
7> Negative.

For now, we will deal only with the    
zero, and negative flags. The zero flag
is set to 1 whenever a zero is loaded, 
stored, or gotten as a result in an    
arithmatic command, such as the CMP.   
The negative flag is set to one        
whenever a negative number is loaded,  
stored, or gotten as a result in an    
arithmatic command. This machine of    
ours defines a negative number as any  
number that has its highest bit set to 
1. That is, any number greater than    
$7F.

Branching.

In essence, what the branching         
statements do is this. They check a    
specific flag and then depending on    
whether that flag is a 1 or a zero, go 
to a location specified by the         
arguement. For example, BEQ branches   
when the zero flag is set to 1. (If the
flag is a 0, program flow continues on 
with the statement following the branch
command.

Let's take a look at a short little    
program.

300:A2 00        LDX #$0
302:BD 11 03     LDA $0311,X
305:C9 00        CMP #$0
307:F0 07        BEQ OUT
309:20 ED FD     JSR $FDED
30C:E8           INX
30D:4C 02 03     JMP $0302
310:60       OUT RTS
311:C4 D2 AE ...  (This is hex         
representation of text and ends with a 
$0)

This program will print out whatever   
the text says (text is at $311 and is  
in ASCII chrs) using a ROM routine at  
$FDED which prints characters onto the 
screen. The text must end with a $0 and
be less than 255 bytes long, otherwise 
you will either hang the system or fuck
it up royally.

Even though there are quite a few new  
commands in the program, we will only  
focus on the role of the BEQ command.

The second byte of the command (BEQ is 
a 2-byte command) is the arguement and 
determines where the program branches  
to, if it branches.

The way which the address of the branch
is determined is this. The M.P.U takes 
the address of the next command after  
the branch statement (in our program   
above, this address would be $309) and 
adds the value of the arguement to it. 
In our program, the arguement for the  
branch statement is $7. $7+$309=$310.  
Which is what we want to happen. But,  
all number from $80 up are negative!   
So if the arguement had been $F8, $F8  
is equal to -$8 and $309-$8=$301. The  
program would have jumped to $301.

BNE

BNE is a branch command that branches  
when the Z flag=0, that is a non-zero  
number is stored, loaded or gotten in  
an arithmetic operation. This command  
works in exactly the same way as the   
BEQ to generate the 'branch-to'        
addresses.

A word on the other commands.

In the program, there were a lot of new
commands used, i will cover them in the
near future, but just to give you an   
idea, here are some quick defenitions.

JMP: this is much like a BASIC 'goto'.

JSR: this is much like a BASIC 'gosub'.

INX: increment X by 1. (add 1 to the value in the X register)

RTS: this is a general 'end-of program'
statement. there are some better uses  
which we will cover.

Well, that's all folks!

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