Rainy sunday

A rainy Sunday, with only the dog for company, so in between walks I thought I’d try and learn some assembler. I’ve been unhappy with triggering samples with Betablocker DS (I prefer synthesis) and I’ve heard good things about ARM asm – so it seemed like a good opportunity to attempt a small, fast and dirty synth.

I found some really nice tutorials here and here. I’ve done a tiny bit of this sort of thing before with microcontrollers, but this is a more of a respectable flavour of assembler, on a decent RISC processor (which derives from the Acorn Archimedes and is now used on IPhones, Androids and Gameboys). Here is a white noise generator:

; white_noise(r0=*dst, r1=clock, r2=length, r3=freq)
white_noise:           
        push    {r4,r5,r6}          ; need to restore registers we use
        mov     r4, r1              ; r4 is the rand state (start with clock)
        ldr     r5, .rnd_data       ; r5 is the multiplier value
        ldr     r6, .rnd_data+1     ; r6 is the addition value
.noise_loop:
        mla     r4, r5, r4, r6      ; the maths bit: r4 = (r6 + (r5 * r4))
        strh    r4, [r0], #2        ; *dst++ = clock; 
        subs    r2, r2, #1          ; length--;
        bne     .noise_loop         ; branch if length not zero
        pop     {r4,r5,r6}
        bx      lr                  ; return
.rnd_data:
        .word   0x000343FD          ; nicked from ansi c rand()
        .word   0x00269EC3          ; need to keep large numbers (>8bit) as data

This code is based on the ansi C rand() function that basically looks like this:

randnum = randnum * 214013 + 2531011;

Which we can do in a single instruction – mla (multiply with accumulate). Of course, gcc would presumably optimise much better code than mine from C++, but there is something more satisfying about doing it this way. I certainly prefer the sound – and over half the cpu usage remains unused with 5 voices and the interface running. The rest of the code is here.

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