Chapter: Embedded and Real Time Systems : Introduction to Embedded Computing

ARM Procssor

1. Processor and Memory Organization: 2. Data Operations:



                        In this section, we concentrate on the ARM processor. ARM is actually a family of RISC architectures that have been developed over many years.


                        ARM does not manufacture its own VLSI devices; rather, it licenses its architecture to companies who either manufacture the CPU itself or integrate the ARM processor into a larger system.


                        The textual description of instructions, as opposed to their binary representation, is called an assembly language.


                        ARM instructions are written one per line, starting after the first column. Comments begin with a semicolon and continue to the end of the line. A label, which gives a name to a memory location, comes at the beginning of the line, starting in the first column. Here is an example:


LDR r0, [r8]; a comment

label ADD r4,r0,r1


1. Processor and Memory Organization:


                        Different versions of the ARM architecture are identified by different numbers. ARM7 is a von Neumann architecture machine, while ARM9 uses Harvard architecture.


                        However, this difference is invisible to the assembly language programmer, except for possible performance differences.


The ARM architecture supports two basic types of data:


                                                                The standard ARM word is 32 bits long.


                                                                The word may be divided into four 8-bit bytes.


                        ARM7 allows addresses up to 32 bits long. An address refers to a byte, not a word. Therefore, the word 0 in the ARM address space is at location 0, the word 1 is at 4, the word 2 is at 8,and so on. (As a result, the PC is incremented by 4 in the absence of a branch.)


                        The ARM processor can be configured at power-up to address the bytes in a word in either little-endian mode (with the lowest-order byte residing in the low-order bits of the word) or big-endian mode (the lowest-order byte stored in the highest bits of the word), as illustrated in Figure 1.14 [Coh81]. General purpose computers have sophisticated instruction sets.


                        Some of this sophistication is required simply to provide the functionality of a general computer, while other aspects of instruction sets may be provided to increase performance, reduce code size, or otherwise improve program characteristics.



2. Data Operations:


                        Arithmetic and logical operations in C are performed in variables. Variables are implemented as memory locations. Therefore, to be able to write instructions to perform C expressions and assignments, we must consider both arithmetic and logical instructions as well as instructions for reading and writing memory.


                        Figure 1.15 shows a sample fragment of C code with data declarations and several assignment statements. The variables a, b, c, x, y, and z all become data locations in memory. In most cases data are kept relatively separate from instructions in the program’s memory image.


                        In the ARM processor, arithmetic and logical operations cannot be performed directly on memory locations. While some processors allow such operations to directly reference main memory, ARM is a load-store architecture—data operands must first be loaded into the CPU and then stored back to main memory to save the results. Figure 2.8 shows the registers in the basic ARM programming model. ARM has 16 general-purpose registers, r0 through r15. Except for r15, they are identical—any operation that can be done on one of them can be done on the other one also.


                        The r15 register has the same capabilities as the other registers, but it is also used as the program counter. The program counter should of course not be overwritten for use in data operations. However, giving the PC the properties of a general-purpose register allows the program counter value to be used as an operand in computations, which can make certain programming tasks easier. The other important basic register in the programming model is the current program status register (CPSR).


                        This register is set automatically during every arithmetic, logical, or shifting operation. The top four bits of the CPSR hold the following useful information about the results of that arithmetic/logical operation:


                                                                              The negative (N) bit is set when the result is negative in two’s-complement arithmetic.


                                                                              The zero (Z) bit is set when every bit of the result is zero.


                                                                              The carry (C) bit is set when there is a carry out of the operation.


                                                                              The overflow(V) bit is set when an arithmetic operation results in an overflow.



int a, b, c, x, y, z; x = (a+b)-c; y=a*(b+c);


z=(a << 2) | (b & 15);


                        Figs 1.15 A C fragment with data operations.

                        These bits can be used to check easily the results of an arithmetic operation. However, if a chain of arithmetic or logical operations is performed and the intermediate states of the CPSR bits are important, then they must be checked at each step since the next operation changes the CPSR values.

                                           The basic form of a data instruction is simple:


ADD r0,r1,r2



                                           This instruction sets register r0 to the sum of the values stored in r1 and r2. In addition to specifying registers as sources for operands, instructions may also provide immediate operands, which encode a constant value directly in the instruction. For example,


ADD r0,r1,#2 sets r0 to r1+2.


                                           The major data operations are summarized in Figure 1.17. The arithmetic operations perform addition and subtraction; the with-carry versions include the current value of the carry bit in the computation.


                        RSB performs a subtraction with the order of the two operands reversed, so that RSB r0, r1, r2 sets r0 to be r2_r1.The bit-wise logical operations perform logical AND, OR, and XOR operations (the exclusive or is called EOR).

                                           The BIC instruction stands for bit clear: BIC r0, r1, r2 sets r0 to r1 and not r2. This instruction uses the second source operand as a mask: Where a bit in the mask is 1, the corresponding bit in the first source operand is cleared.


                                           The MUL instruction multiplies two values, but with some restrictions: No operand may be an immediate, and the two source operands must be different registers.


                                           The MLA instruction performs a multiply-accumulate operation, particularly useful in matrix operations and signal processing. The instruction


MLA r0, r1, r2, r3


Sets r0 to the value r1*r2+r3.


                        The shift operations are not separate instructions rather; shifts can be applied to arithmetic and logical instructions. The shift modifier is always applied to the second source operand.


                        A left shift moves bits up toward the most-significant bits, while a right shift moves bits down to the least-significant bit in the word.


                        The LSL and LSR modifiers perform left and right logical shifts, filling the least-significant bits of the operand with zeroes. The arithmetic shift left is equivalent to an LSL, but the ASR copies the sign bit—if the sign is 0, a 0 is copied, while if the sign is 1, a 1 is copied.


                        The rotate modifiers always rotate right, moving the bits that fall off the least-significant bit up to the most-significant bit in the word. The RRX modifier performs a 33-bit rotate, with the CPSR’s C bit being inserted above the sign bit of the word; this allows the carry bit to be included in the rotation.

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