1. Goals for this week:

  1. Compilation steps and practice with IA32 assembly

  2. Disassemble binary executables with objdump and gdb.

  3. ALU condition codes (flags) in Lab 3.

  4. Explore real computer hardware.

2. Starting Point Code

Start by creating a week04 in your cs31/weeklylab subdirectory and copying over some files:

$ cd ~/cs31/weeklylab
$ mkdir week04
$ cd week04
$ pwd
$ cp ~richardw/public/cs31/week04/* ./
$ ls
Makefile conditions.c simpleops.c

3. Using gcc to generate IA32 assembly

Let’s try out gcc to build IA32 assembly files and .o files and look at the results. Open up simpleops.c.

We are going to look at how to use gcc to create an assembly version of this file, and how to create a object .o file, and how to examine its contents. We are also going to look at how to used gdb to see the assembly code and to step through the execution of individual instructions.

If you open up the Makefile you can see the rules for building .s, .o and executable files from simpleops.c. We will be compiling the 32-bit version of instructions, so we will use the -m32 flag.

$ gcc -m32 -S simpleops.c   # just runs the assembler to create a .s text file
$ gcc -m32 -c simpleops.s   # compiles to a relocatable object binary file (.o)
$ gcc -m32 -o simpleops simpleops.o  # creates a 32-bit executable file

To see the machine code and assembly code mappings in the .o file:

$ objdump -d simpleops.o

You can compare this to the assembly file:

$ cat simpleops.s

4. gdb disassemble

Next, let’s try disassembling code using gdb. The gdb debugger supports debugging at the assembly code level by stepping through the execution of individual IA32 instructions, examining register values, and disassembling functions. Today, we are just going to look at the disassemble functionality of gdb. We will revisit debugging at the assembly code level over the next few weeks.

$ gdb ./simpleops
(gdb) break main
(gdb) run

In gdb you can disassemble code using the disas command:

(gdb) disas main

I’ll show you a few other gdb commands for debugging at the assembly code level, but we will revisit this in later weeks.

(gdb) break main
(gdb) run
(gdb) disas
(gdb) ni           # execute next instruction
(gdb) disas
(gdb) ni           # execute a few more
(gdb) disas
(gdb) print $eax   # print out the value stored in CPU register eax

I’ll show you a few other gdb commands for debugging at the assembly code

When we are done, entry quit to quit the gdb session:

(gdb) quit

5. Tips for Lab 3

5.1. ALU Flags

On the ALU lab, you need to set 5 flags (the condition codes). You can get an idea of how to set these by writing some code in C and looking reasoning about what the values of the flags should be after those operatings. considering how the flags should be set

Look at the conditions.c program:

$ vim conditions.c

This program includes some example arithmetic and bit-wise operations, operations that your ALU will implement. We will use it to reason about the ALU flags part of Lab 3.

Recall the flags (or condition codes) are used encode state about the result of an ALU operation. For the ALU you are building in Logisim, the flags are defined as the following:

  • EF: Is set (1), if the two operands are equal. Otherwise, it is clear (0).

  • ZF: Is set, if the computed result is zero.

  • SF: Is set, if the computed result’s most significant bit is set (i.e., it’s negative if interpreted as signed).

  • CF: Is set, if the computed result caused an overflow, when interpreted as an unsigned operation.

  • OF: Is set, if the computed result caused an overflow, when interpreted as a signed operation.

Compile conditions.c and run the program and look at some of the example operations and think about what the flag settings should be for these examples.

$ make
$ ./conditions

unsigned 2147483647 + 4 is  2147483651 (0x80000003)
  signed 2147483647 + 4 is -2147483645 (0x80000003)

unsigned 3 - 5 is  4294967294 (0xfffffffe)
  signed 3 - 5 is          -2 (0xfffffffe)

The first couple examples are ADD and SUB operations. Think about the value of each of the 5 flags for each of these example operations. In other words, which flags should be set (1) and which should be clear (0) as the result of adding 2147483647 + 4? And which should be set and which should be clear as the result of 3 - 5?

Next, consider the OR and AND examples, and how the flags should be set for these examples.

When implementing the flags in your ALU, you can return to this program and try different examples to help you think about how the flags should be set.

5.2. Logisim Tips

  • You can often change the orientation of circuits in the circuit menu and sometimes some pin locations for easier wiring.

  • If connections seem to not be working properly check if a wire is shorting pins by being connected along an edge of a component. Move the component and look underneath it — if all looks good you can hit Undo and put the component back. If things look bad, try deleting the component, fix the wiring and then re-place the component.

  • Wires can occasionally pass underneath components and create invisible connections. As above, move the component to check for this if you experience problems.

6. Computer Teardown

Log out. Form a group of 4 people (including yourself). Your group is assigned a single computer that you can take apart.

The goal is to find as many parts of a computer as you can. We have tools available to remove parts from your computer, and here are a few links that may be helpful:

Try to identify some of the following:

  • the processor

  • RAM memory card(s)

  • the backplane

  • the chipset, PCI and Memory buses

  • expansion slots

  • the hard drive (what’s inside?)

  • the network interface card (NIC)

  • the graphics card

  • where do different ports go?

  • …​ then see what else you can find

Before leaving lab, please clean-up all spare parts, screws, etc. that you have removed by putting them in the boxes. You do not need to put the cases in the boxes, just all loose parts. Cases can be left on the desks. CPU thermal glue is toxic, so just to be safe I recommend washing your hands after lab today.

7. Handy References