Posts Tagged ‘Red book tone routine’

COMFY-6502: a slight correction

February 11, 2008

After all the work to write a post showing off COMFY-6502’s ability to reproduce the Red Book tone routine, I made a slight mistake in translation. The code I presented differed ever-so-slightly from the Red Book routine in the case where the Y-register reached zero.

COMFY-6502: work in progress

February 5, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become intrigued by Baker’s COMFY assembler, and have been working on porting it to Common Lisp, and making it a bit more powerful in the link stage.

One metric to judge the success of this kind of “medium-level” language is how well it compiles compared to hand-written assembler code. For the 6502, there are a few examples of code created by wizards like Steve Wozniak, which you can find copies of around the web, the largest being the Apple II monitor, the Integer Basic interpreter, and some medium-sized ones like the Apple II 6502 step/trace, the mini-assembler, the floating-point “Wozpack,” and the Sweet-16 virtual machine.

This kind of code has a lot of quirks that make it hard to straight-forwardly translate: lots of shared “tail code”, branches known by the programmer to always be taken (to save a precious extra byte consumed by an unconditional JMP), and the classic “fake RTS trick”, pushing a return address picked from a table onto the stack, then using an RTS instead of a zero-page indirect JMP. Common in Woz’s code is a further shortening of the code by arranging the destination addresses to all be in the same 256-byte page, so the high-order byte is a constant. Some of these ideas will likely be possible with intelligent macros, combined with address labels and computation on those labels. I’m puzzling a bit over how to optimize the “same page” condition: whether to include a “link-time assert”, which will issue an error if the code is emitted so as to cross a page, or an even more intelligent “link-time computation” which, given the current available memory space, can choose a location that meets the constraints.