Special Section: Building Your Own Computer

Special Section Building Your Own Computer

In the next several problems, we take a temporary diversion from the world of high-level language programming. To "peel open" a computer and look at its internal structure. We introduce machine-language programming and write several machine-language programs. To make this an especially valuable experience, we then build a computer (through the technique of software-based simulation) on which you can execute your machine-language programs.


(Machine-Language Programming) Let us create a computer called the Simpletron. As its name implies, it is a simple, but powerful, machine. The Simpletron runs programs written in the only language it directly understands: Simpletron Machine Language, or SML for short.

The Simpletron contains an accumulatora special register in which information is put before the Simpletron uses that information in calculations or examines it in various ways. All the information in the Simpletron is handled in terms of words. A word is a signed four-digit decimal number, such as +3364, -1293, +0007 and -0001. The Simpletron is equipped with a 100-word memory, and these words are referenced by their location numbers 00, 01, ..., 99.

Before running an SML program, we must load, or place, the program into memory. The first instruction (or statement) of every SML program is always placed in location 00. The simulator will start executing at this location.

Each instruction written in SML occupies one word of the Simpletron's memory (and hence instructions are signed four-digit decimal numbers). We shall assume that the sign of an SML instruction is always plus, but the sign of a data word may be either plus or minus. Each location in the Simpletron's memory may contain an instruction, a data value used by a program or an unused (and hence undefined) area of memory. The first two digits of each SML instruction are the operation code specifying the operation to be performed. SML operation codes are summarized in Fig. 7.35.

Figure 7.35. Simpletron Machine Language (SML) operation codes.

Operation code


Input/output operations:

final int READ = 10;

Read a word from the keyboard into a specific location in memory.

final int WRITE = 11;

Write a word from a specific location in memory to the screen.

Load/store operations:

final int LOAD = 20;

Load a word from a specific location in memory into the accumulator.

final int STORE = 21;

Store a word from the accumulator into a specific location in memory.

Arithmetic operations:

final int ADD = 30;

Add a word from a specific location in memory to the word in the accumulator (leave the result in the accumulator).

final int SUBTRACT = 31;

Subtract a word from a specific location in memory from the word in the accumulator (leave the result in the accumulator).

final int DIVIDE = 32;

Divide a word from a specific location in memory into the word in the accumulator (leave result in the accumulator).

final int MULTIPLY = 33;

Multiply a word from a specific location in memory by the word in the accumulator (leave the result in the accumulator).

Transfer of control operations:

final int BRANCH = 40;

Branch to a specific location in memory.

final int BRANCHNEG = 41;

Branch to a specific location in memory if the accumulator is negative.

final int BRANCHZERO = 42;

Branch to a specific location in memory if the accumulator is zero.

final int HALT = 43;

Halt. The program has completed its task.


The last two digits of an SML instruction are the operandthe address of the memory location containing the word to which the operation applies. Let's consider several simple SML programs.

The first SML program (Fig. 7.36) reads two numbers from the keyboard and computes and displays their sum. The instruction +1007 reads the first number from the keyboard and places it into location 07 (which has been initialized to 0). Then instruction +1008 reads the next number into location 08. The load instruction, +2007, puts the first number into the accumulator, and the add instruction, +3008, adds the second number to the number in the accumulator. All SML arithmetic instructions leave their results in the accumulator. The store instruction, +2109, places the result back into memory location 09, from which the write instruction, +1109, takes the number and displays it (as a signed four-digit decimal number). The halt instruction, +4300, terminates execution.

Figure 7.36. SML program that reads two integers and computes their sum.

(This item is displayed on page 353 in the print version)






(Read A)



(Read B)



(Load A)



(Add B)



(Store C)



(Write C)






(Variable A)



(Variable B)



(Result C)


The second SML program (Fig. 7.37) reads two numbers from the keyboard and determines and displays the larger value. Note the use of the instruction +4107 as a conditional transfer of control, much the same as Java's if statement.

Figure 7.37. SML program that reads two integers and determines the larger.

(This item is displayed on page 353 in the print version)






(Read A)



(Read B)



(Load A)



(Subtract B)



(Branch negative to 07)



(Write A)






(Write B)






(Variable A)



(Variable B)


Now write SML programs to accomplish each of the following tasks:

  1. Use a sentinel-controlled loop to read 10 positive numbers. Compute and display their sum.
  2. Use a counter-controlled loop to read seven numbers, some positive and some negative, and compute and display their average.
  3. Read a series of numbers, and determine and display the largest number. The first number read indicates how many numbers should be processed.

(Computer Simulator) In this problem, you are going to build your own computer. No, you will not be soldering components together. Rather, you will use the powerful technique of software-based simulation to create an object-oriented software model of the Simpletron of Exercise 7.34. Your Simpletron simulator will turn the computer you are using into a Simpletron, and you will actually be able to run, test and debug the SML programs you wrote in Exercise 7.34.

When you run your Simpletron simulator, it should begin by displaying:

 *** Welcome to Simpletron! ***
 *** Please enter your program one instruction ***
 *** (or data word) at a time into the input ***
 *** text field. I will display the location ***
 *** number and a question mark (?). You then ***
 *** type the word for that location. Press the ***
 *** Done button to stop entering your program. ***

Your application should simulate the memory of the Simpletron with a one-dimensional array memory that has 100 elements. Now assume that the simulator is running, and let us examine the dialog as we enter the program of Fig. 7.37 (Exercise 7.34):

 00 ? +1009
 01 ? +1010
 02 ? +2009
 03 ? +3110
 04 ? +4107
 05 ? +1109
 06 ? +4300
 07 ? +1110
 08 ? +4300
 09 ? +0000
 10 ? +0000
 11 ? -99999

Your program should display the memory location followed by a question mark. Each of the values to the right of a question mark is input by the user. When the sentinel value -99999 is input, the program should display the following:

 *** Program loading completed ***
 *** Program execution begins ***

The SML program has now been placed (or loaded) in array memory. Now the Simpletron executes the SML program. Execution begins with the instruction in location 00 and, as in Java, continues sequentially, unless directed to some other part of the program by a transfer of control.

Use the variable accumulator to represent the accumulator register. Use the variable instructionCounter to keep track of the location in memory that contains the instruction being performed. Use the variable operationCode to indicate the operation currently being performed (i.e., the left two digits of the instruction word). Use the variable operand to indicate the memory location on which the current instruction operates. Thus, operand is the rightmost two digits of the instruction currently being performed. Do not execute instructions directly from memory. Rather, transfer the next instruction to be performed from memory to a variable called instructionRegister. Then "pick off" the left two digits and place them in operationCode, and "pick off" the right two digits and place them in operand. When the Simpletron begins execution, the special registers are all initialized to zero.

Now, let us "walk through" execution of the first SML instruction, +1009 in memory location 00. This procedure is called an instruction execution cycle.

The instructionCounter tells us the location of the next instruction to be performed. We fetch the contents of that location from memory by using the Java statement

 instructionRegister = memory[ instructionCounter ];

The operation code and the operand are extracted from the instruction register by the statements

 operationCode = instructionRegister / 100;
 operand = instructionRegister % 100;

Now the Simpletron must determine that the operation code is actually a read (versus a write, a load, etc.). A switch differentiates among the 12 operations of SML. In the switch statement, the behavior of various SML instructions is simulated as shown in Fig. 7.38. We discuss branch instructions shortly and leave the others to you.

Figure 7.38. Behavior of several SML instructions in the Simpletron.




Display the prompt "Enter an integer", then input the integer and store it in location memory[ operand ].


accumulator = memory[ operand ];


accumulator += memory[ operand ];


This instruction displays the message
*** Simpletron execution terminated ***


When the SML program completes execution, the name and contents of each register as well as the complete contents of memory should be displayed. Such a printout is often called a computer dump (no, a computer dump is not a place where old computers go). To help you program your dump method, a sample dump format is shown in Fig. 7.39. Note that a dump after executing a Simpletron program would show the actual values of instructions and data values at the moment execution terminated.

Figure 7.39. A sample dump.

accumulator +0000
instructionCounter 00
instructionRegister +0000
operationCode 00
operand 00

 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
 0 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
10 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
20 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
30 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
40 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
50 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
60 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
70 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
80 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000
90 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000 +0000

Let us proceed with the execution of our program's first instructionnamely, the +1009 in location 00. As we have indicated, the switch statement simulates this task by prompting the user to enter a value, reading the value and storing it in memory location memory[ operand ]. The value is then read into location 09.

At this point, simulation of the first instruction is completed. All that remains is to prepare the Simpletron to execute the next instruction. Since the instruction just performed was not a transfer of control, we need merely increment the instruction-counter register as follows:


This action completes the simulated execution of the first instruction. The entire process (i.e., the instruction execution cycle) begins anew with the fetch of the next instruction to execute.

Now let us consider how the branching instructionsthe transfers of controlare simulated. All we need to do is adjust the value in the instruction counter appropriately. Therefore, the unconditional branch instruction (40) is simulated within the switch as

 instructionCounter = operand;

The conditional "branch if accumulator is zero" instruction is simulated as

 if ( accumulator == 0 )
 instructionCounter = operand;

At this point, you should implement your Simpletron simulator and run each of the SML programs you wrote in Exercise 7.34. If you desire, you may embellish SML with additional features and provide for these features in your simulator.

Your simulator should check for various types of errors. During the program-loading phase, for example, each number the user types into the Simpletron's memory must be in the range -9999 to +9999. Your simulator should test that each number entered is in this range and, if not, keep prompting the user to reenter the number until the user enters a correct number.

During the execution phase, your simulator should check for various serious errors, such as attempts to divide by zero, attempts to execute invalid operation codes, and accumulator overflows (i.e., arithmetic operations resulting in values larger than +9999 or smaller than -9999). Such serious errors are called fatal errors. When a fatal error is detected, your simulator should display an error message, such as

 *** Attempt to divide by zero ***
 *** Simpletron execution abnormally terminated ***

and should display a full computer dump in the format we discussed previously. This treatment will help the user locate the error in the program.


(Simpletron Simulator Modifications) In Exercise 7.35, you wrote a software simulation of a computer that executes programs written in Simpletron Machine Language (SML). In this exercise, we propose several modifications and enhancements to the Simpletron Simulator. In Exercise 17.26 and Exercise 17.27, we propose building a compiler that converts programs written in a high-level programming language (a variation of Basic) to Simpletron Machine Language. Some of the following modifications and enhancements may be required to execute the programs produced by the compiler:

  1. Extend the Simpletron Simulator's memory to contain 1000 memory locations to enable the Simpletron to handle larger programs.
  2. Allow the simulator to perform remainder calculations. This modification requires an additional SML instruction.
  3. Allow the simulator to perform exponentiation calculations. This modification requires an additional SML instruction.
  4. Modify the simulator to use hexadecimal values rather than integer values to represent SML instructions.
  5. Modify the simulator to allow output of a newline. This modification requires an additional SML instruction.
  6. Modify the simulator to process floating-point values in addition to integer values.
  7. Modify the simulator to handle string input. [Hint: Each Simpletron word can be divided into two groups, each holding a two-digit integer. Each two-digit integer represents the ASCII (see Appendix B) decimal equivalent of a character. Add a machine language instruction that will input a string and store the string, beginning at a specific Simpletron memory location. The first half of the word at that location will be a count of the number of characters in the string (i.e., the length of the string). Each succeeding half-word contains one ASCII character expressed as two decimal digits. The machine language instruction converts each character into its ASCII equivalent and assigns it to a half-word.]
  8. Modify the simulator to handle output of strings stored in the format of part (g). [Hint: Add a machine-language instruction that will display a string, beginning at a certain Simpletron memory location. The first half of the word at that location is a count of the number of characters in the string (i.e., the length of the string). Each succeeding half-word contains one ASCII character expressed as two decimal digits. The machine-language instruction checks the length and displays the string by translating each two-digit number into its equivalent character.]

Introduction to Computers, the Internet and the World Wide Web

Introduction to Java Applications

Introduction to Classes and Objects

Control Statements: Part I

Control Statements: Part 2

Methods: A Deeper Look


Classes and Objects: A Deeper Look

Object-Oriented Programming: Inheritance

Object-Oriented Programming: Polymorphism

GUI Components: Part 1

Graphics and Java 2D™

Exception Handling

Files and Streams


Searching and Sorting

Data Structures



Introduction to Java Applets

Multimedia: Applets and Applications

GUI Components: Part 2



Accessing Databases with JDBC


JavaServer Pages (JSP)

Formatted Output

Strings, Characters and Regular Expressions

Appendix A. Operator Precedence Chart

Appendix B. ASCII Character Set

Appendix C. Keywords and Reserved Words

Appendix D. Primitive Types

Appendix E. (On CD) Number Systems

Appendix F. (On CD) Unicode®

Appendix G. Using the Java API Documentation

Appendix H. (On CD) Creating Documentation with javadoc

Appendix I. (On CD) Bit Manipulation

Appendix J. (On CD) ATM Case Study Code

Appendix K. (On CD) Labeled break and continue Statements

Appendix L. (On CD) UML 2: Additional Diagram Types

Appendix M. (On CD) Design Patterns

Appendix N. Using the Debugger

Inside Back Cover

Java(c) How to Program
Java How to Program (6th Edition) (How to Program (Deitel))
ISBN: 0131483986
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 615

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