# BASM for Beginners

## BASM for beginners, lesson 3

In this third lesson topics such as MMX and SSE2 will be introduced together with Int64 arithmetic. This is the first time we will see processor dependent optimizations.

The example looks like this

function AddInt64_1(A, B : Int64) : Int64;
begin
Result := A + B;
end;

Let us jump straight into the asm code.

function AddInt64_2(A, B : Int64) : Int64;
begin
{
push ebp
mov ebp,esp
}

Result := A + B;
{
mov eax,[ebp+\$10]
mov edx,[ebp+\$14]
mov [ebp-\$08],eax
mov [ebp-\$04],edx
mov eax,[ebp-\$08]
mov edx,[ebp-\$04]
}
{
pop ecx
pop ecx
pop ebp
//ret
}
end;

The first three lines of code is recognized as setting up a stackframe like in the previous lessons. This time we know that the compiler might add the first two for us. The last three lines are also a well known pattern. Again the compiler might add pop ebp for us. This brings us into the meat which is these 8 lines

Result := A + B;
{
mov eax,[ebp+\$10]
mov edx,[ebp+\$14]
mov [ebp-\$08],eax
mov [ebp-\$04],edx
mov eax,[ebp-\$08]
mov edx,[ebp-\$04]

They can be analyzed in pairs because they work together in tandem doing 64 bit math by splitting the problem up into 32 bit pieces. The first two lines load A into the register pair eax:edx. They are loading a contiguous 64 bit block of data from the previous stackframe, showing us that A was transferred on the stack. The two load pointers are separated by 4 byte. One of them is pointing to the beginning of A and the other one is pointing into the middle of A. Then comes two add instructions. The first is a normal add and the second one is add with carry. The pointers in these two lines are pointing to B in the same fashion as the two previous were pointing at A. The first add adds the lower 32 bits of B to the lower 32 bits of A. This might lead to a carry if the sum is to big to fit into 32 bits. This carry is included in the addition of the higher 32 bits. To make things totally clear lets do a simple example on decimal numbers. We have the addition 1+2 = 3. Our imaginary datatype for this “in our brain CPU” is two digits wide. This means that the addition is actually looking like this 01+02=03. There is no carry from the addition of the lower digits into the higher ones which are zero. Let us take decimal example number two. 13+38=?. First we add 3+8=11. This results in a carry and a 1 in the lower half of the result. Then we add Carry+1+3=1+1+3=5. The result is 51. In the third example we provoke an overflow. 50+51=101. 101 is too big to fit in two digits and our brain CPU can not perform the calculation. There was a carry on the addition of the two higher digits. We go back to the code. Two things can happen now. If we have compiled without range check the result wraps around. With range check an exception will be thrown. We see that there is now range check code in our listing and wraparound will occur.

The next two lines save the result into the current stackframe. The last two lines load the result from the stackframe into eax and edx where it already was. These 4 lines are redundant. They can be removed and this also removes the need for a stackframe. It so easy to be an optimizer ;-)

function AddInt64_6(A, B : Int64) : Int64;
asm
mov eax,[ebp+\$10]
mov edx,[ebp+\$14]
end;

This is a nice small function. The compiler generated code consisted of 16 lines and we came down to 4 with only little effort. Today Delphi was really sleepy.

Now we think like this: If we had 64 bit registers the addition could be done with two lines of code. But the MMX registers are 64 bit wide and this might be worth taking advantage of. In the Intel SW Developers Manual instructions are not marked as belonging to IA32, MMX, SSE or SSE2. This information would be nice to have, but we have to look elsewhere for it. I normally use three small programs from Intel. The so called computer based tutorials on MMX, SSE & SSE2. I do not know where to find them on the Intel webside now, but mail me if you want them. They are simple and nice - very illustrative. In these I find that a mov for 64 bit from memory into an MMX register is movq. Q stands for quadword. The mmx registers are named mm0, mm1....mm7. They are not arranged as a stack, as the FP registers are, and we can pick which one we like. Let us pick mm0. The first instruction looks like this

movq    mm0, [ebp+\$10]

There is to ways two go now. We can load B into a register too. This makes it easy to see what is going on by using the FPU window. The MMX registers are aliased onto the FP registers and the FPU view can show both sets. Switch between FP and MMX view by select "Display as words/Display as extendeds" in the shortcut menu. The second way to go is to use the pattern from the IA32 implementation and perform the addition with the memory location of B as source. The two solutions is expected to perform identically because the CPU needs to load B into registers before doing the addition and whether it is done explicitly with mov or explicitly with the add instruction, the number of micro instructions will be the same. We use the more illustrative first way. The next line is then a movq again

movq    mm1, [ebp+\$08]

Then we have to go look for an add instruction which would be something like this - paddq. P for MMX, add for addition and q for quadword. Now we get disappointed because there is no such MMX instruction. What about SSE? It is one more disappointment. Finally SSE2 got it and we are happy or are we? If we use it the code will be targeting P4 and not run P3 or Athlon. Like the P4 lovers we are we proceed anyway.

This line is very intuitive. It adds mm1 to mm0.

Only thing left is to copy the result from mm0 into eax:edx. To do this we need a double word mov instruction that can take 32 bit from a MMX register as source and a IA32 register as destination.

movd    eax, mm0

This MMX instruction does the job. It copies the lower 32 bits of mm0 to eax. Then we need to copy the upper 32 bits of the result to edx. I could not find an instruction for that and instead I shift the upper 32 bits down into the lower 32 bit using a 64 bit MMX rigth shift instruction.

psrlq   mm0, 32

Then we copy

movd    edx, mm0

Then we are done? Unfortunately we have to issue the emms instruction because we have used MMX instructions. It cleans up the FP stack and leaves in a well defined empty state. Emms burns 12 cycles on a P4. Together with the shift which is also ineffective (2 cycles throughput and latency) on P4 our solution is not especially fast and it will only run on P4 and this AMD thing nobody has yet :-(

This ended the third lesson. We left the ball hanging in the air. Can we come up with a more efficient solution? Moving data between MMX register and IA32 registers is expensive. The calling convention is no good, because data were transferred on the stack and not in registers. eax->mm0 is 2 cycles. The other way is 5 cycles. emms is 12 cycles. Addition is only 2 cycles. Overhead is plenty.

Regards

Dennis