Writing, Iguanas, and Electronics

Instruction Length and Components

For register to register type instructions, I wanted to go with 5-bit identifiers. This leaves 6-bits for the command, and allows for thirty-two connected devices. This may be overkill, as 4-bit identifiers still gives us sixteen devices (0-15), and each device is identified by a single hex value.

The best way to see why this might matter is to compare three MOV instructions, copying values between two registers. With 4-bit identifiers (the left hex instruction) the first two characters indicate the command and the next two a source and destination device. When we use 5-bit identifiers (the right hex instructions), only the first character will be unchanged, the next three will vary depending on the actual device IDs.

                                        4-Bit              5-bit

MOV R01, R10               AA1A     vs    A82A

MOV R13, R11               AADB     vs    A9AB

MOV R00, R15               AA0F      vs    AA0F

It probably does not matter in the long run, I may be using an assembler, but the left examples are clearer and easier to understand than the right.

I will have to give this some thought, as I am not sure 16 devices (15, really) will be enough. Hypothetically speaking, I will need the following:

Planned Device List
0 - Zero/Null Register
1 - Program Counter
2 - Return Register
3 - Firmware Pointer
4 - Firmware Return Register
5 - Variable Pointer
6 - Loop Counter
7 - "A" Register, for ALU
8 - "B" Register, for ALU
9 - General Purpose Register
A - 64K of user programming memory
B - 64k of variable storage memory
C - 64k of firmware

A possibility would be to combine device B and C into one, with 32k of eeprom and 32k of sram. This would be a compromise, but would free a device number.

This is pretty tight, considering it does not include I/O of any kind, any front-panel registers, sound or video systems... but those may work okay as dedicated instructions. This is how the ALU will work.. it does not have a Device ID per say, instead an ALU instruction includes 5-bits for the mode and signals, and 4-bits for a destination device on the data bus. Sound systems, video, LCD output, etc. will probably interface via special registers, but they may not need device numbers the way memory banks or normal registers do. If I go with 5-bit identifiers, we would have twice as many device numbers available and could easily include a dozen different addressable registers.

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