Day 10

The Other Registers

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On Day 3, you got to look at the nine main registers of the Z80, and a couple were introduced at various other points. Now we learn about the remaining ones.

Index Registers

You already know about the index regs, so here is a quick reveiw. There are two 16-bit index registers: IX and IY. They are very similar to HL except that they are slower to work with. They can be used anywhere HL can, with the stipulation that the three registers are mutually exclusive. That is, they cannot be mixed within one instruction:

    LD     IX, $40        ; Load $0040 into IX
    LD     IY, ($4552)    ; Load value at byte $4552 into IY
    LD     ($8000), IX    ; Load the value of IX into byte $8000
    ADD    IX, BC         ; Add BC to IX
    DEC    IY            ; Decrement IY
    ADD    HL, IY         ; Illegal!
    LD     H, (IX)        ; Note that this is okay

When using them to indirectly access memory, you can supply an 8-bit signed offset value:

    LD     (IX - 5), A    ; Load A to the address in IX minus five.
    LD     B, (IY + 0)    ; Load from address in IY. Could also be simply (IY).

IX is free to use at any time, but IY is used by the calculator to access the system flags. If you modify its value, you can restore it with

    LD     IY, Flags

But use of IY is discouraged for now. There are things called interrupts that have to be taken into consideration before it is safe for use.

The index registers are commonly used for addressing when HL is tied up holding something vital, or where using an index would be more efficient or coherent than a bunch of INC/DEC HL tricks. Such a case is accessing complicated structures, such as you saw on Day 5.

Index Register Halves

You know, you can access the high and low bytes of IX and IY. It's a little more complicated because the instructions aren't officially supported by ZiLog, and it is a little on the unelegant side. Nevertheless they can be useful in some circumstances, like when all your registers are locked up and you need an 8-bit counter bad.

The high byte of IX is called either IXH or HX (remember these are unofficial registers so there are no standard names). The low byte is called either IXL or LX. The high and low bytes of IY are named similarly.

To use a part of an index register in an instruction:

  1. Pick an instruction that allows both H and L to be used as an operand, excepting shifts, rotates, BIT, SET, and RES.
  2. Use H if you want the high byte, or L if you want the low byte.
  3. Immediately precede this instruction with .DB $DD to use the IX half-registers, or .DB $FD to use the IY half-registers.

Example: LD E,IXH

    .DB    $DD
    LD     E, H

Example: SUB IYL

    .DB    $FD
    SUB    L

Be aware that once you specify a prefix, you are locked into using that index register's half-registers. It is impossible to combine the half-registers of HL, IX, or IY in one instruction:

    .DB    $DD    ;LD IXH, IXL
    LD     H, L

Stack Pointer

To recap, the stack pointer is the 16-bit register SP. It holds the address of the top of the hardware stack. A PUSH HL is identical to the fake instructions

    DEC    SP
    LD     (SP), H
    DEC    SP
    LD     (SP), L

And a POP HL is identical to

    LD     L, (SP)
    INC    SP
    LD     H, (SP)
    INC    SP

What you don't know is that you can use SP in a number of instructions, even use it to store data. Using it in this way is discouraged for the same reasons as for IY.

    ADC    HL, SP

    ADD    HL, SP
    ADD    IX, SP
    ADD    IY, SP

    DEC    SP

    EX     (SP), HL
    EX     (SP), IX
    EX     (SP), IY

    INC    SP

    LD     (imm16), SP
    LD     SP, (imm16)
    LD     SP, HL
    LD     SP, IX
    LD     SP, IY
    LD     SP, imm16

    SBC    HL, SP

Probably the most valuable of these are the EX instructions. What they do is swap the most recently pushed value on the stack with the 16-bit register operand making it possible to manipulate two pieces of data alternately.
The INC SP instruction is the next most useful, you can use it to clean off register pushes to the stack, and while you could use POP, INC will not store the data on the stack anywhere, which is really nice if you are in a situation where all the registers contain vital data.

Fast Load With SP

I could go on for pages talking about all the filthy hacks you can do with SP. Here are just a couple examples.

We can load a block of memory with one or two values really fast with SP. The DI and EI instructions are needed because the calculator will most likely crash without them:

    DI                       ; You don't need to know why this is necessary yet
    LD     (save_sp), SP      ; Save SP away
    LD     SP, $1000+1000     ; Have to start at the end because SP is    
                             ; decremented before a PUSH
    LD     HL, $1050          ; Memory block will be 1050 1050 ...
    LD     B, 125             ; PUSH 125*4=500 times, @ 2 bytes a PUSH = 1000 bytes
    PUSH   HL
    PUSH   HL
    PUSH   HL
    PUSH   HL
    DJNZ   Loop
    LD     SP, (save_sp)      ; Restore SP
    EI                       ; You don't need to know why this is necessary yet

Here is a more concrete example, clearing out AppBackupScreen fast.

    LD    (save_sp), SP
    LD    SP, AppBackupScreen + 768    ; 768 byte area
    LD    HL, $0000
    LD    B, 48        ; PUSH 48*8=384 times, @ 2 bytes a PUSH = 768 bytes
    PUSH  HL          ; Do multiple PUSHes in the loop to save cycles
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    PUSH  HL
    DJNZ  Loop

    LD    SP, (save_sp)
    .DW   0

Quit with SP

The stack pointer can be used to terminate the program instantly like C's exit().
You already know that RET is like a POP PC. Since RET is used to end a program, you can infer that the TI-OS uses CALL $9D95 to execute a program. If the value of SP was saved at the start of the program, it could be later restored and followed with RET to stop the program:

    ;Start of program
    LD     (save_sp), SP
    ;Somewhere within the program
    LD     SP, (save_sp)

This could be useful if, say, you had to exit from deep within the program because of an error, and you're unable to remove all the stack pushes (such as from within a procedure).

Memory Refresh Register

This is 8-bit register R. Bits 0 to 6 are incremented after each instruction is executed, bit 7 staying at whatever was loaded. It can be loaded to and from the accumulator.
I suppose it could be used in a random number generator:

    LD     A, ($9000)        ;A random number seed — make the result "more random"
    LD     B, A
    LD     A, R
    ADD    A, B
    LD    ($9000), A

But aside from that it really has no function for the programmer.

Interrupt Vector Register and Shadow Registers

The Interrupt Vector Register is 8-bit register I. The Shadow Registers are AF', BC', DE', and HL'. They are used with interrupts, so there's nothing to be gained by explaining them now. Interrupts are covered in full on Day 22.