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Dauug|36 minicomputer documentation

User instructions

User instructions are CPU instructions that preserve separation between programs under all circumstances. A user program is a program that contains only user instructions. User instructions and user programs may also be called nonprivileged instructions and nonprivileged programs respectively.

Most Dauug|36 programs will be user programs, so a large fraction of Dauug|36 assembly programmers may not need to learn any privileged instructions. If you are new to this architecture, you may wish to contain your early study to user instructions.

The remainder of this page offers a high-level introduction to four distinct sets of Dauug|36 user instructions:

The pages that descend from this page document the user instructions themselves.

ALU instructions

ALU instructions are those manipulate registers and flags via the arithmetic logic unit, or ALU, exclusively. These instructions don’t do I/O, don’t touch any data memory, don’t affect the instruction pointer, etc. They merely perform arithmetic or logic operations on 36-bit words.

There are many ways to categorize ALU instructions. One way is to place them into these three sets:

The supermajority of ALU instructions both read and write registers. Dauug|36 has more than 100 such instructions. For example, the A (add) instruction might read registers subtotal and tax, add them, and write the result to total. In assembly language, this would be written as:

total = subtotal + tax

Aside. If names like tax don’t sound like register names, consider that the architecture has 512 registers for every program that is running. You wouldn’t want to refer to them by numbers in your programs. Instead, you declare them with appropriate in Dauug|36 assembly language, and leave numbering them to the assembler.

A handful of instructions only read registers. These include CMP (compare), which compares the magnitude of two registers and sets the Z(ero) and N(egative) flags based on their difference:

cmp assets - liabilities

A very few instructions write to a register without first reading from one. One example is IMP (immediate positive), which loads a constant between 0 and 262,143 into a register:

node.weight = 500

This section’s examples used features of Dauug|36’s assembly language that may seem unusual:

Branch instructions

While Dauug|36 executes one instruction, it simultaneously fetches the next instruction to execute. Ordinarily, the next instruction’s address in code memory is one greater than the current instruction, allowing programs to run in sequential order as we expect.

Branch instructions are different, in that the next instruction may come from some other address. These instructions are:

JUMP comes in an unconditional form:

jump some_label

as well as ten forms that are contingent on flags, one of which is:

jump < it_was_negative

CALL and RETURN are unconditional. They behave in familiar ways:

    call print_in_decimal
    (remainder of program)

    (print some number in decimal)

REVERT is the same as RETURN, except that flags are restored to what they were at the corresponding CALL. REVERT allows subroutines to internally use flags without modifying their callers’ flags. Also, the operating system’s scheduler uses REVERT to return to user programs without their flags disturbed by preemptive multitasking.

Memory instructions

Because Dauug|36 provides 512 registers to every running program, many programs can be written that do not require additional memory beyond these registers. But programs that use collections (strings, lists, etc.) generally require data memory. Memory instructions are the mechanism by which user programs employ their memory. In this example with two memory instructions, LD (load) and STO (store) increment whatever is at memory location 36:

counter = ld 36
counter = counter + 1
sto 36 = counter

Paged virtual memory ensures that Dauug|36’s nonprivileged memory instructions can only access memory that the program has been authorized to access. In other words, LD and STO, like all unprivileged instructions in the architecture, honor the page table.


Dauug|36 has a user instruction called YIELD that’s in a category by itself. It doesn’t involve any registers, memory, or branching. Its syntax is simply:


YIELD causes the Dauug|36 firmware to pause execution of the user program. Ordinarily this is because the program either is making a kernel request or is able to relinquish the CPU for a time.

Programming with YIELD requires some advanced knowledge, because the CPU does not immediately switch programs. The Cooperative multitasking and Preemptive multitasking articles elaborate on this more specifically.

Marc W. Abel
Computer Science and Engineering
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Without secure hardware, there is no secure software.