Apple IIgs #90
65816 Tips and Pitfalls

Revised by Matt "Matt" Deatherage (March 1991)
Written by Dave "Dave" Lyons (September 1990)

This Technical Note presents short 65816 assembly language examples illustrating pitfalls and clever techniques.

Changes since November 1990: Added more explanations about the JSL table and corrected a comment.


Dispatching Through an Address Table

The 65816 has a JSR ($aaaa,X) instruction for calling a selected subroutine from a table of addresses, but it has no JSL ($aaaa,X) instruction. If you need to dispatch to one of several routines that are not all in the same bank, you need an approach like the following. The idea is to perform a JSL to a routine which does a long jump by pushing a three-byte "RTL address" on the stack and then doing an RTL.


           jsl LngJmp           ;go jump to the routine
           ...

  LngJmp   asl a                ;take routine number in A and
           asl a                ; multiply it by 4
           tax                  ;put table index into X
           lda table+1,x        ;get "middle" word of address
           pha                  ; and push it
           lda table,x          ;get low word and
           dec a                ; decrement it by one
           phb                  ;push a single throw-away byte
           sta 1,s              ;store over low two of the 3 bytes
           rtl                  ;transfer control to the routine
table      dc.l routine1        ;table of 4-byte subroutine addresses
           dc.l routine2
           dc.l routine3
           ...

This code is correct because RTL pulls three bytes off the stack and increments the two low bytes without incrementing the high byte.

Note: This approach to a table-based JSL is more flexible than JML ($XXXX) because it does not require any fixed-location storage or bank zero space, other than the stack.

On the other hand, the following code is not correct. The approach here is to make a table of addresses minus one.


           asl a             W
           asl a             R  ;multiply index by 4
           tax               O  ; and put it in X
           lda table+1,x     N  ;get the "middle" word
           pha               G  ; and push it
           lda table,x       !  ;get the low word
           phb               W  ;push a single throw-away byte
           sta 1,s           R  ;store over low two bytes
           rtl               O  ;transfer control to the routine
    table  dc.l routine1-1   N  ;table of 4-byte addresses minus one
           dc.l routine2-1   G
           dc.l routine3-1   !
           ...

This second sample code fragment fails if any of the routines in the table comes at the first byte of a bank. For example, if routine1 is at $060000, the address pushed is $05FFFF, and RTL transfers control to $050000, not $060000.

Dereferencing Handles Without Direct Page Space

When your code gets called with the D register undefined, you must not use direct page addressing without setting D to a known good value. Preserving and restoring locations on the caller's direct page is not reliable, because D could be pointing at bytes below the stack pointer (which can be destroyed by interrupts) or even at the $C0xx soft switches (that would make your direct page accesses accidentally fiddle with hardware).

A common way to get temporary direct page space is to point D at part of your stack. This following code dereferences a handle stored in the A and X registers (if the handle is $E01234 and refers to a block of memory at $056789, then on entry A=$00E0 and X=$1234, and on exit A=$0005 and X=$6789).


       phd                  ;save caller's direct-page register
       pha                  ;push high word of handle
       phx                  ;push low word of handle
       tsc                  ;get stack pointer in A
       tcd                  ;and put it in D
       lda [1]              ;get low word of master pointer (no ",Y"!)
       tax                  ; and put it in X
       ldy #$0002           ;offset to high word of master pointer
       lda [1],y            ;get high word
       ply                  ;remove low word of handle
       ply                  ; and high word
       pld                  ;restore the caller's direct-page register

Direct page addressing isn't the only way to address through pointers. Here's the same routine as before, but using the Data Bank register (B) instead of fiddling with D. (Note that handles do not have to be in bank $E0 or $E1, although they usually are.)


       phb                  ;save caller's data bank register
       pha                  ;push high word of handle on stack
       plb                  ;sets B to the bank byte of the pointer
       lda |$0002,x         ;load the high word of the master pointer
       pha                  ; and save it on the stack
       lda |$0000,x         ;load the low word of the master pointer
       tax                  ;and return it in X
       pla                  ;restore the high word in A
       plb                  ;pull the handle's high word high byte off the
                            ; stack
       plb                  ;restore the caller's data bank register

Emulation Mode Has 65816 Features

You don't have to switch into Native mode just to do an eight-bit operation with long addressing. Most 65816-specific instructions and addressing modes work in emulation mode in approximately the same way they work in eight-bit native mode. See the "Further Reference" for details.

Further Reference


This and all of the other Apple II Technical Notes have been converted to HTML by Aaron Heiss as a public service to the Apple II community, with permission by Apple Computer, Inc. Any and all trademarks, registered and otherwise, are properties of their owners.