8x300 subroutine call mechanism revealed

From: Tom Jennings <tomj_at_wps.com>
Date: Fri Dec 3 16:45:39 2004

Thanks Al, for giving me a retro-headache, that chip's
architecture is even worse than I remembered :-)

It's truly a terrible architecture.

The subroutine call mechanism is a trivial software convention,
you could do it on any machine that had one unit of storage to
dedicate. Only 32 one-deep calls are allowed; 32 is an 8x300

The trick is that CALL and RETURN are macros. Here's how it's
done, example trivial code fragment:

0100: CALL subr / This jump subroutine...
0102: ... / ...returns here,
0200: CALL subr / and this call...
0202: ... / ...returns here.

subr: code here

One 8x300 register is set aside for the return linkage mechanism,
let's call this RETN.

The macroassembler does the work. A local (to the assembler)
variable, let's call it R, increments with every CALL macro
expansion, arbitrarily from the top of the souce file to
the bottom. At the same time, a jump table, call it JUMPS,
is constructed where the Rth entry is [pc + 2], that is, the
address to return to after the call. (2 instructions are needed
to do the CALL.)

CALL expands to:

        xmit R, RETN / store R in register RETN
        jump subr

RETURN expands simply to:

        XEC RETN, JUMPS / execute JUMPS[RETN]

I'm certain I have the syntax wrong, no matter.

The jump table called JUMPS looks like:

JUMPS: jump 0102 / first call + 2
        jump 0202 / second call + 2
        ... / etc

It would be 'interesting' to cobble up a mechanism capable
of recursion, but likely it would be larger than many
subroutines. It could certainly be done though, and worse things
have been shipped.
Received on Fri Dec 03 2004 - 16:45:39 GMT

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