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Advanced Computer Architecture-CS501
Lecture Handouts
Computer Architecture
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Introduction to FALSIM
Preparing source files for FALSIM
FALCON-A assembly language techniques
1. Introduction to FALSIM:
FALSIM is the name of the software application which consists of the
FALCON-A assembler and the FALCON-A simulator. It runs under
Windows XP.
FALCON-A Assembler:
Figure 1 shows a snapshot of the FALCON-A Assembler. This tool loads a
FALCON-A assembly file with a (.asmfa) extension and parses it. It shows
the parse results in an error log, lets the user view the assembled file's
contents in the file listing and also provides the features of printing the
machine code, an Instruction Table and a Symbol Table to a FALCON-A
listing file. It also allows the user to run the FALCON-A Simulator.
The FALCON-A Assembler has two main modules, the 1st-pass and the
2nd-pass. The 1st-pass module takes an assembly file with a (.asmfa)
extension and processes the file contents. It then creates a Symbol Table
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which corresponds to the storage of all program variables, labels and data
values in a data structure at the implementation level. If the 1st-pass
completes successfully a Symbol Table is produced as an output, which is
used by the 2nd-pass module. Failures of the 1st-pass are handled by the
assembler using its exception handling mechanism.
The 2nd-pass module sequentially processes the .asmfa file to interpret the
instruction opcodes, register opcodes and constants using the symbol table.
It then produces a list file with a .lstfa extension independent of successful
or failed pass. If the pass is successful a binary file with a .binfa extension is
produced which contains the machine code for the program in the assembly
FALCON-A Simulator:
Figure 6 shows a snapshot of the FALCON-A Simulator. This tool loads a
FALCON-A binary file with a (.binfa) extension and presents its contents
into different areas of the simulator. It allows the user to execute the
program to a specific point within a time frame or just executes it, line by
line. It also allows the user to view the registers, I/O port values and memory
contents as the instructions execute.
FALSIM Features:
The FALCON-A Assembler provides its user with the following features:
Select Assembly File: Labeled as "1" in Figure 1, this feature enables the
user to choose a FALCON-A assembly file and open it for processing by the
Assembler Options: Labeled as "2" in Figure 1.
Print Symbol Table
This feature if selected writes the Symbol Table (produced after the
execution of the 1st-pass of the assembler) to a FALCON-A list file with an
extension of (.lstfa). The Symbol Table includes data members, data
addresses and labels with their respective values.
Print Instruction Table
This feature if selected writes the Instruction Table to a FALCON-A list file
with an extension of (.lstfa).
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List File: Labeled as "3", in Figure 1, the List File feature gives a detailed
insight of the FALCON-A listing file, which is produced as a result of the
execution of the 1st and 2nd-pass. It shows the Program Counter value in
hexadecimal and decimal formats along with the machine code generated for
every line of assembly code. These values are printed when the 2nd-pass is
Error Log: The Error Log is labeled as "4" in Figure 1. It informs the user
about the errors and their respective details, which occurs in any of the
passes of the assembler.
Search: Search is labeled as "5" in Figure 1 and helps the user to search for
a certain input with the options of searching with "match whole" and
"match any" parts of the string. The search also has the option of checking
with/without considering "case-sensitivity". It searches the List File area
and highlights the search results using the yellow color. It also indicates the
total number of matches found.
Start Simulator: This feature is labeled as "6" in Figure 1. The FALCON-A
Simulator is run using the FALCON-A Assembler's Start Simulator option.
The FALCON-A Simulator is invoked by the user from the FALCON-A
Assembler. Its features are detailed as follows:
Load Binary File: The button labeled as "11" in Figure 6, allows the user to
choose and open a FALCON-A binary file with a (.binfa) extension. When a
file is being loaded into the simulator all the register, constants (if any) and
memory values are set.
Registers: The area labeled as "12" in Figure 6. enables, the user to see
values present in different registers before during and after execution.
Instruction: This area is labeled as "13" in Figure 6 and contains the value of
PC, address of an instruction, its representation in Assembly, the Register
Transfer Language, the op-code and the instruction type.
I/O Ports: I/O ports are labeled as "14" in Figure 6. These ports are available
for the user to enter input operation values and visualize output operation
values whenever an I/O operation takes place in the program. The input
value for an input operation is given by the user before an instruction
executes. The output values are visible in the I/O port area once the
instruction has successfully executed.
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Memory: The memory is divided into 2 areas and is labeled as "15" in
Figure 6, to facilitate the view of data stored at different memory locations
before, during and after program execution.
Processor's State: Labeled as "16" in Figure 6, this area shows the current
values of the Instruction register and the Program Counter while the program
Search: The search option for the FALCON-A simulator is labeled as "17"
in Figure 6. This feature is similar to the way the search feature of the
FALCON-A Assembler works. It offers to highlight the search string which
goes as an input, with the "All " and " Part " option. The results of the search
are highlighted in the color yellow. It also indicates the total number of
The following is a description of the options available on the button panel
labeled as "18" in Figure 6.
Single Step: "Single Step" lets the user execute the program, one instruction
at a time. The next instruction is not executed unless the user does a "single
step" again. By default, the instruction to be executed will be the one next in
the sequence. It changes if the user specifies a different PC value using the
Change PC option (explained below).
Change PC: This option lets the user change the value of PC
(Program Counter). By changing the PC the user can execute the
instruction to which the specified PC points.
Execute: By choosing this button the user is able to execute the
instructions with the options of execution with/without breakpoint
insertion (refer to Fig. 5). In case of breakpoint insertion, the user has
the option to choose from a list of valid breakpoint values. It also has
the option to set a limit on the time for execution. This "Max
Execution Time" option restricts the program execution to a time
frame specified by the user, and helps the simulator in exception
Change Register: Using the Change Register feature, the user can
change the value present in a particular register.
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Change Memory Word: This feature enables the user to change values
present at a particular memory location.
Display Memory: Display Memory shows an updated memory area,
after a particular memory location other than the pre-existing ones is
specified by the user.
Change I/O: Allows the user to give an I/O port value if the
instruction to be executed requires an I/O operation. Giving in the
input in any one of the I/O ports areas before instruction execution,
indicates that a particular I/O operation will be a part of the program
and it will have an input from some source. The value given by the
user indicates the input type and source.
Display I/O: Display I/O works in a manner similar to Display
Memory. Here the user specifies the starting index of an I/O port. This
features displays the I/O ports stating from the index specified.
2. Preparing source files for FALSIM:
In order to use the FALCON-A assembler and simulator, FALSIM,
the source file containing assembly language statements and directives
should be prepared according to the following guidelines:
The source file should contain ASCII text only. Each line should be
terminated by a carriage return. The extension .asmfa should be used
with each file name. After assembly, a list file with the original
filename and an extension .lstfa, and a binary file with an extension
.binfa will be generated by FALSIM.
Comments are indicated by a semicolon (;) and can be placed anywhere
in the source file. The FALSIM assembler ignores any text after the
Names in the source file can be of one of the following types:
Variables: These are defined using the .equ directive. A value must
also be assigned to variables when they are defined.
Addresses in the "data and pointer area" within the memory: These
can be defined using the .dw or the .sw directive. The difference
between these two directives is that when .dw is used, it is not
possible to store any value in the memory. The integer after .dw
identifies the number of memory words to be reserved starting at the
current address. (The directive .db can be used to reserve bytes in
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memory.) Using the .sw directive, it is possible to store a constant or
the value of a name in the memory. It is also possible to use pointers
with this directive to specify addresses larger than 127. Data tables
and jump tables can also be set up in the memory using this directive.
Labels: An assembly language statement can have a unique label
associated with it. Two assembly language statements cannot have the
same name. Every label should have a colon (:) after it.
Use the .org 0 directive as the first line in the program. Although the use
of this line is optional, its use will make sure that FALSIM will start
simulation by picking up the first instruction stored at address 0 of the
memory. (Address 0 is called the reset address of the processor). A jump
[first] instruction can be placed at address 0, so that control is transferred
to the first executable statement of the main program. Thus, the label
first serves as the identifier of the "entry point" in the source file. The
.org directive can also be used anywhere in the source file to force code
at a particular address in the memory.
Address 2 in the memory is reserved for the pointer to the Interrupt
Service Routine (ISR). The .sw directive can be used to store the address
of the first instruction in the ISR at this location.
Address 4 to 125 can be used for addresses of data and pointers1.
However, the main program must start at address 126 or less2, otherwise
FALSIM will generate an error at the jump [first] instruction.
The main program should be followed by any subprograms or
procedures. Each procedure should be terminated with a ret instruction.
The ISR, if any, should be placed after the procedures and should be
terminated with the iret instruction.
The last line in the source file should be the .end directive.
The .equ directive can be used anywhere in the source file to assign
values to variables.
It is the responsibility of the programmer to make sure that code does not
overwrite data when the assembly process is performed, or vice versa. As
an example, this can happen if care is not exercised during the use of the
.org directive in the source file.
3. Using FALSIM:
Any address between 4 and 14 can be used in place of the displacement field in load or
store instructions. Recall that the displacement field is just 5 bits in the instruction word.
This restriction is because of the face that the immediate operand in the movi
instruction must fit an 8-bit field in the instruction word.
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To start FALSIM (the FALCON-A assembler and simulator), double
click on the FALSIM icon. This will display the assembler window,
as shown in the Figure 1.
Select one or both assembler options shown on the top right corner of
the assembler window labeled as "2". If no option is selected, the
symbol table and the instruction table will not be generated in the list
(.lstfa) file.
Click on the select assembly file button labeled as "1". This will open
the dialog box as shown in the Figure 2.
Select the path and file containing the source program that is to be
Click on the open button. FALSIM will assemble the program and
generate two files with the same filename, but with different
extensions. A list file will be generated with an extension .lstfa, and a
binary (executable) file will be generated with an extension .binfa.
FALSIM will also display the list file and any error messages in two
separate panes, as shown in Figure 3.
Double clicking on any error message highlights and displays the
corresponding erroneous line in the program listing window pane for
the user. This is shown in Figure 4. The highlight feature can also be
used to display any text string, including statements with errors in
them. If the assembler reported any errors in the source file, then these
errors should be corrected and the program should be assembled again
before simulation can be done. Additionally, if the source file had
been assembled correctly at an earlier occasion, and a correct binary
(.binfa) file exists, the simulator can be started directly without
performing the assembly process.
To start the simulator, click on the start simulation button labeled as
"6". This will open the dialog box shown in Figure 6.
Select the binary file to be simulated, and click open as shown in
Figure 7.
This will open the simulation window with the executable program
loaded in it as shown in Figure 8. The details of the different panes in
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this window were given in section 1 earlier. Notice that the first
instruction at address 0 is ready for execution. All registers  are
initialized to 0. The memory contains the address of the ISR (i.e., 64h
which is 100 decimal) at location 2 and the address of the printer
driver at location 4. These two addresses are determined at assembly
time in our case.  In a real situation, these addresses will be
determined at execution time by the operating system, and thus the
ISR and the printer driver will be located in the memory by the
operating system (called re-locatable code). Subsequent memory
locations contain constants defined in the program.
Click single step button labeled as "19". FALSIM will execute the
jump [main] instruction at address 0 and the PC will change to 20h
(32 decimal), which is the address of the first instruction in the main
program (i.e., the value of main).
Although in a real situation, there will be many instructions in the
main program, those instructions are not present in the dummy calling
program. The first useful instruction is shown next. It loads the
address of the printer driver in r6 from the pointer area in the memory.
The registers r5 and r7 are also set up for passing the starting address
of the print buffer and the number of bytes to be printed. In our
dummy program, we bring these values in to these registers from the
data area in the memory, and then pass these values to the printer
driver using these two registers. Clicking on the single step button twice,
executes these two instructions.
The execution of the call instruction simulates the event of a print
request by the user. This transfers control to the printer driver. Thus,
when the call r4, r6 instruction is single stepped, the PC changes to
32h (50 decimal) for executing the first instruction in the printer
Double click on memory location 000A, which is being used for
holding the PB (printer busy) flag. Enter a 1 and click the change
memory button. This will store a 0001 in this location, indicating that
a previous print job is in progress. Now click single step and note that
this value is brought from memory location 000E into register r1.
Clicking single step again will cause the jnz r1, [message] instruction
to execute, and control will transfer to the message routine at address
0046h. The nop instruction is used here as a place holder.
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Click again on the single step button. Note that when the ret r4
instruction executes, the value in r4 (i.e., 28h) is brought into the PC.
The blue highlight bar is placed on the next instruction after the call
r4, r6 instruction in the main program. In case of the dummy calling
program, this is the halt instruction.
Double click on the value of the PC labeled as "20". This will open a
dialog box shown below. Enter a
value  of  the  PC  (i.e.,  26h)
corresponding to the call r4, r6
instruction,  so  that  it  can  be
executed again. A "list" of possible
PC values can also be pulled down
using, and 0026h can be selected
from there as well.
Click single step again to enter the printer driver again.
Change memory location 000A to a 0, and then single step the first
instruction in the printer driver. This will bring a 0 in r1, so that when
the next jnz r1, [message] instruction is executed, the branch will not
be taken and control will transfer to the next instruction after this
instruction. This is mivi r1, 1 at address 0036h.
Continue single stepping.
Notice that a 1 has been stored in memory location 000A, and r1
contains 11h, which is then transferred to the output port at address
3Ch (60 decimal) when the out r1, controlp instruction executes.
This can be verified by double clicking on the top left corner of the
I/O port pane, and changing the address to 3Ch. Another way to
display the value of an I/O port is to scroll the I/O window pane to
the desired position.
Continue single stepping till the int instruction and note the changes
in different panes of the simulation window at each step.
When the int instruction executes, the PC changes to 64h, which is the
address of the first instruction in the ISR. Clicking single step executes
this instruction, and loads the address of temp (i.e., 0010h) which is a
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temporary memory area for storing the environment. The five store
instructions in the ISR save the CPU environment (working registers)
before the ISR change them.
Single step through the ISR while noting the effects on various registers,
memory locations, and I/O ports till the iret instruction executes. This will
pass control back to the printer driver by changing the PC to the address of
the jump [finish] instruction, which is the next instruction after the int
Double click on the value of the PC. Change it to point to the int
instruction and click single step to execute it again. Continue to single step
till the in r1, statusp instruction is ready for execution.
Change the I/O port at address 3Ah (which represents the status port at
address 58) to 80 and then single step the in r1, statusp instruction. The
value in r1 should be 0080.
Single step twice and notice that control is transferred to the movi r7,
FFFF3 instruction, which stores an error code of ­1 in r1.
The instruction was originally movi r7, -1. Since it was converted to machine language
by the assembler, and then reverse assembled by the simulator, it became movi r7,
FFFF. This is because the machine code stores the number in 16-bits after sign-
extension. The result will be the same in both cases.
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Figure 1
Figure 2
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Figure 3
Figure 4
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Figure 5
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Figure 7
Figure 8
4. FALCON-A assembly language programming techniques:
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If a signed value, x, cannot fit in 5 bits (i.e., it is outside the range -16 to
+15), FALSIM will report an error with a load r1, [x] or a store r1, [x]
instruction. To overcome this problem, use movi r2, x followed by load
r1, [r2].
If a signed value, x, cannot fit in 8 bits (i.e., it is outside the range
128 to +127), even the previous scheme will not work. FALSIM will
report an error with the movi r2, x instruction. The following instruction
sequence should be used to overcome this limitation of the FALCON-A.
First store the 16-bit address in the memory using the .sw directive. Then
use two load instructions as shown below:
.sw  x
load r2, [a]
load r1, [r2]
This is essentially a "memory-register-indirect" addressing. It has been
made possible by the .sw directive. The value of a should be less than 15.
A similar technique can be used with immediate ALU instructions for
large values of the immediate data, and with the transfer of control (call
and jump) instructions for large values of the target address.
Large values (16-bit values) can also be stored in registers using the mul
instruction combined with the addi instruction. The following
instructions bring a 201 in register r1.
movi r2, 10
movi r3, 20
mul r1, r2, r3
; r1 contains 200 after this instruction
addi r1, r1, 1
; r1 now contains 201
Moving from one register to another can be done by using the instruction
addi r2, r1, 0.
Bit setting and clearing can be done using the logical (and, or, not, etc)
Using shift instructions (shiftl, asr, etc.) is faster that mul and div, if the
multiplier or divisor is a power of 2.
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Table of Contents:
  1. Computer Architecture, Organization and Design
  2. Foundations of Computer Architecture, RISC and CISC
  3. Measures of Performance SRC Features and Instruction Formats
  4. ISA, Instruction Formats, Coding and Hand Assembly
  5. Reverse Assembly, SRC in the form of RTL
  6. RTL to Describe the SRC, Register Transfer using Digital Logic Circuits
  7. Thinking Process for ISA Design
  8. Introduction to the ISA of the FALCON-A and Examples
  9. Behavioral Register Transfer Language for FALCON-A, The EAGLE
  10. The FALCON-E, Instruction Set Architecture Comparison
  11. CISC microprocessor:The Motorola MC68000, RISC Architecture:The SPARC
  12. Design Process, Uni-Bus implementation for the SRC, Structural RTL for the SRC instructions
  13. Structural RTL Description of the SRC and FALCON-A
  14. External FALCON-A CPU Interface
  15. Logic Design for the Uni-bus SRC, Control Signals Generation in SRC
  16. Control Unit, 2-Bus Implementation of the SRC Data Path
  17. 3-bus implementation for the SRC, Machine Exceptions, Reset
  18. SRC Exception Processing Mechanism, Pipelining, Pipeline Design
  19. Adapting SRC instructions for Pipelined, Control Signals
  20. SRC, RTL, Data Dependence Distance, Forwarding, Compiler Solution to Hazards
  21. Data Forwarding Hardware, Superscalar, VLIW Architecture
  22. Microprogramming, General Microcoded Controller, Horizontal and Vertical Schemes
  23. I/O Subsystems, Components, Memory Mapped vs Isolated, Serial and Parallel Transfers
  24. Designing Parallel Input Output Ports, SAD, NUXI, Address Decoder , Delay Interval
  25. Designing a Parallel Input Port, Memory Mapped Input Output Ports, wrap around, Data Bus Multiplexing
  26. Programmed Input Output for FALCON-A and SRC
  27. Programmed Input Output Driver for SRC, Input Output
  28. Comparison of Interrupt driven Input Output and Polling
  29. Preparing source files for FALSIM, FALCON-A assembly language techniques
  30. Nested Interrupts, Interrupt Mask, DMA
  31. Direct Memory Access - DMA
  32. Semiconductor Memory vs Hard Disk, Mechanical Delays and Flash Memory
  33. Hard Drive Technologies
  34. Arithmetic Logic Shift Unit - ALSU, Radix Conversion, Fixed Point Numbers
  35. Overflow, Implementations of the adder, Unsigned and Signed Multiplication
  36. NxN Crossbar Design for Barrel Rotator, IEEE Floating-Point, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division
  37. CPU to Memory Interface, Static RAM, One two Dimensional Memory Cells, Matrix and Tree Decoders
  38. Memory Modules, Read Only Memory, ROM, Cache
  39. Cache Organization and Functions, Cache Controller Logic, Cache Strategies
  40. Virtual Memory Organization
  41. DRAM, Pipelining, Pre-charging and Parallelism, Hit Rate and Miss Rate, Access Time, Cache
  42. Performance of I/O Subsystems, Server Utilization, Asynchronous I/O and operating system
  43. Difference between distributed computing and computer networks
  44. Physical Media, Shared Medium, Switched Medium, Network Topologies, Seven-layer OSI Model