TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Oct 95 Tips
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Tips & Tidbits

Tips & Tidbits

By Steve Sisak, Contributing Editor

Note: Source code files accompanying article are located on MacTech CD-ROM or source code disks.

TIP OF THE MONTH

Spotting the Elusive Ram Disk

Here is a handy function for performing a dynamic check for the existence of a RAM disk as created by Apple’s Memory control panel. I use it in some of my programs when speed is paramount. Since the user can remove the RAM disk at any time by turning it off from the Memory control panel, and can rename it at any time, the code here must be called before using the RAM disk. In other words, don’t check just once during your application startup and assume thereafter that it will still be there, check before each access if possible. Program defensively...

- Greg Poole


HasRamDisk.h
#pragma once

#ifdef __cplusplus
 extern "C" {
#endif
 extern Boolean  HasRamDisk( FSSpecPtr ramDiskSpec );
#ifdef __cplusplus
 }
#endif

HasRamDisk.c
/******************************************************************************
    HasRamDisk.c

    A dynamic check for the existence of a RAM disk as created by Apple's
    Memory control panel. Since the user can remove the RAM disk at any time
    by turning it off from the Memory control panel, and can rename it at any
    time, the code here needs to be called before assuming the existence of
    a RAM disk. In other words, don't check just once during your application
    startup and assume thereafter that it will still be there, check 
    before each access. Program defensively...
    
    history:

    modified:  xx/xx/xx  who are you? what did you do?
    created:   08/10/94         greg poole

    Greg Poole
    Vital Images, Inc.
    505 N. 4th Street
    Fairfield, IA 52556
    (515) 472-7726
    email: greg@vitalimages.com

 ******************************************************************************/

#include <string.h>
#include "HasRamDisk.h"

// this structure is based on the DRVR definition in MPWTypes.r
//
struct DRVRresourceRec
{
    // description of drvrFlags
    //
    //    struct
    //    {
    //           unsigned hiUnused     : 1;    // unused
    //           unsigned needLock     : 1;   // lock drvr in memory
    //           unsigned needTime     : 1;   // for periodic action
    //           unsigned needGoodbye  : 1;    // call before heap reinit
    //           unsigned statusEnable : 1;      // responds to status
    //           unsigned ctlEnable    : 1;           // responds to control
    //           unsigned writeEnable  : 1;  // responds to write
    //           unsigned readEnable   : 1;  // responds to read
    //           unsigned loUnused     : 8;    // low byte of drvrFlags word unused
    //    } drvrFlags;
 
 short  drvrFlags; // flags as defined above      
 unsigned short  driverDelay; // driver delay (ticks)
 short  deskAccEventMask; // desk acc event mask
 short  driverMenuID;// driver menu ID

 unsigned short  offsetOpen;// offset to DRVRRuntime open
 unsigned short  offsetPrime; // offset to DRVRRuntime prime
 unsigned short  offsetControl;// offset to DRVRRuntime control
 unsigned short  offsetStatus;// offset to DRVRRuntime status
 unsigned short  offsetClose; // offset to DRVRRuntime close

 Str31  driverName;// driver name
 char   driverCode[1];    // driver code
};
typedef struct DRVRresourceRec DRVRresourceRec;
typedef DRVRresourceRec *DRVRresourcePtr, **DRVRresourceHndl;

// constants
//
const char kDrvrHandleBit = 0x40;  
 // bit 7 of 'DRVR' dCtlFlags signals driver is handle
    // instead of pointer and needs to be locked in memory
const char kRamDiskName[] = "\p.EDisk";// Apple's RAM disk driver name


// pass in an FSSpecPtr to hold a reference to a RAM disk,
// returns TRUE if there is currently a RAM disk, FALSE if not
//
Boolean HasRamDisk( FSSpecPtr ramDiskSpec )
{
 BooleanhasRamDisk = FALSE, isHandle = FALSE;
 short  whichVol = 1;// start with first disk volume
 HVolumeParam    volPB;
 OSErr  theErr = noErr, anErr = noErr;
 DCtlHandle dctlHndl = NULL;
 DRVRresourcePtr drvrPtr = NULL;
 DRVRresourceHndldrvrHndl = NULL;
 Ptr    aPtr = NULL;
 Str31  volName;

 do// test each mounted disk volume
 {
 volPB.ioNamePtr = volName;
 volPB.ioVRefNum = 0;// 0 means use ioVolIndex
 volPB.ioVolIndex = whichVol; // use this to determine volume
 
 if ( (theErr=PBHGetVInfoSync( (HParmBlkPtr)&volPB )) == noErr)
 {
 // get this volume's device control entry from the unit table.
    // do not lock the dctlHndl, I spent a couple of days figuring
    // out that locking this handle causes a crash in the CompServer
    // because it is locked at interrupt time...
    //
 if ( (dctlHndl = GetDCtlEntry(volPB.ioVDRefNum)) != NULL )
 {
 // is the device's driver in a handle or a pointer?
    //
 if ((isHandle=(*dctlHndl)->dCtlFlags&kDrvrHandleBit)!= 0)
 {
 drvrHndl = (DRVRresourceHndl) (*dctlHndl)->dCtlDriver;
 drvrPtr = *drvrHndl;
 }
 else
 drvrPtr = (DRVRresourcePtr) (*dctlHndl)->dCtlDriver;

 // get this device's driver, check if it is a RAM disk
    //
 if ( !memcmp( drvrPtr->driverName, kRamDiskName,  
              *kRamDiskName+1 ) )
 {
 // this driver is the RAM disk driver, create an FSSpec to its root dir
    //
 anErr = FSMakeFSSpec( volPB.ioVRefNum, fsRtDirID, 
                                 volName, ramDiskSpec );
 if ( anErr == noErr )
 hasRamDisk = TRUE;
 break;
 }
 }
 }
 whichVol++; // go to next volume
 } 
 while ( theErr != nsvErr );

 return hasRamDisk;
 
} // end HasRamDisk


// define TEST_RAM_DISK for a standalone test
//
#define TEST_RAM_DISK

#if defined( TEST_RAM_DISK )

 // local function prototypes
    //
 static void InitTheMac( void );
 
 static void InitTheMac( void )
 {
 InitGraf( &qd.thePort );
 InitFonts();
 InitWindows();
 InitMenus();
 TEInit();
 InitDialogs( 0L );
 InitCursor();
 MaxApplZone();
 
 } // end InitTheMac

 void main( void )
 {
 FSSpec ramDiskSpec; 
 BooleanhasRamDisk;
 
 InitTheMac();
 hasRamDisk = HasRamDisk( &ramDiskSpec );
 
 } // end main

#endif // TEST_RAM_DISK

Anti-Tip of the Month

Since Greg Poole won the Tip-of-the-Month I thought we could have a little fun and also give him the Anti-Tip-of-the-Month as well for a different submission. (Don’t worry, Greg, you’re getting paid for this too.)

Greg writes:

Here’s a quick and clean way to swap data in place without having to resort to using a temporary memory location:

   short *aPtr, *bPtr;

        *aPtr ^= *bPtr;
        *bPtr ^= *aPtr;
        *aPtr ^= *bPtr;

While this is mathematically cool, lets take a look at the assembly code that it generates and see what’s really happening. First, for comparison, a couple of more pedestrian implementations:

void swap2(short *aPtr, short *bPtr)
{
    short a = *aPtr;    // a version with two temporaries
    short b = *bPtr;

    *aPtr = b;
    *bPtr = a;
}

void swap1(short *aPtr, short *bPtr)
{
    short a = *aPtr;    // a version with one temporary

    *aPtr = *bPtr;
    *bPtr = a;
}

void swap0(short *aPtr, short *bPtr)
{
    *aPtr ^= *bPtr;     // Greg’s tip
    *bPtr ^= *aPtr;
    *aPtr ^= *bPtr;
}

Now, let’s take a look at what the compiler actually generates for these functions. (I’m using CodeWarrior with all optimizations on for these examples.)

Recall that as processsors have gotten faster, memory has not. For instance 1/80ns (the speed on memory in most Macintoshes) = 12.5 MHz. This means that if adjacent instructions have to address memory with no intervening computation, it’s as if the processor has slowed to 12.5MHz.

First the 68K compiler, starting with the two temp case:

Name="swap2"(6)  Size=26
    MOVEA.L   $0004(A7),A1
    MOVEA.L   $0008(A7),A0
    MOVE.W    (A1),D0
    MOVE.W    (A0),D1
    MOVE.W    D1,(A1)
    MOVE.W    D0,(A0)
    RTS

Ignoring the two MOVEA.L’s which set up the address registers and the return, this takes four instructions, all of which touch memory. Notice, however that there are no cases where the result of an instruction is used an an input to the next instruction, meaning that most of the instructions can overlap in the processor pipeline.

Next with one temp:

Name="swap1"(4)  Size=24
    MOVEA.L   $0004(A7),A1
    MOVEA.L   $0008(A7),A0
    MOVE.W    (A1),D0
    MOVE.W    (A0),(A1)
    MOVE.W    D0,(A0)
    RTS

Here we have three instructions, all accessing memory and all can overlap. This is smaller than the example above. Whether it is faster depends on the relative timing of the MOVE.W (A0),(A1) instruction. (If anyone wants to time this, I’ll print the results.)

Now Greg’s ‘tip’:

Name="swap0"(1)  Size=30
    MOVEA.L   $0004(A7),A1
    MOVEA.L   $0008(A7),A0
    MOVE.W    (A0),D0
    EOR.W     D0,(A1)
    MOVE.W    (A1),D0
    EOR.W     D0,(A0)
    MOVE.W    (A0),D0
    EOR.W     D0,(A1)
    RTS

This generates six instructions, all of which touch memory. Furthermore three of these are read-modify-write cycles, which are slower that a read or write and each instruction depends on the result of the instructon directly before it, meaning it won’t overlap in the pipeline, making this both the largest and slowest implementation of the three.

Now lets look at the PowerPC code:

Name=".swap2"(6)  Size=20
    lha      r0,0(r3)
    lha      r5,0(r4)
    sth      r5,0(r3)
    sth      r0,0(r4)
    blr

Name=".swap1"(4)  Size=20
    lha      r5,0(r3)
    lha      r0,0(r4)
    sth      r0,0(r3)
    sth      r5,0(r4)
    blr

Note that both of the versions with temporaries generated the same code (4 instructions, all touching memory but pipelineable). This is because RISC processors typically don’t have memory to memory operations; instead, they must move data to a register before operating on it.

Now our ‘tip’:

Name=".swap0"(1)  Size=52
    lha      r5,0(r4)
    lha      r0,0(r3)
    xor      r0,r0,r5
    sth      r0,0(r3)
    lha      r5,0(r3)
    lha      r0,0(r4)
    xor      r0,r0,r5
    sth      r0,0(r4)
    lha      r4,0(r4)
    lha      r0,0(r3)
    xor      r0,r0,r4
    sth      r0,0(r3)
    blr

This implementation is by far the largest and slowest, generating 12 instructions, including 6 memory accesses. Furthermore there are 2 pipeline stalls. Clearly this implementation is the largest and slowest of all.

The moral of the story is: don’t get tricky. C programmers often try to minimize the number of lines of C in their program without consideration for what the compiler will generate. When in doubt, write clear code and give the optimizer a chance to maximize performance. Look at the compiler output. Your code will be easier to debug and probably faster too.

’Till next time,

- Steve

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vivaldi 2.6.1566.49 - An advanced browse...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. We live in our browsers. Choose one that has the features you need, a style that fits and values you can stand by. From the look and feel, to how you interact... Read more
Capo 3.7.4 - Slow down and learn to play...
Capo lets you slow down your favorite songs so you can hear the notes and learn how they are played. With Capo, you can quickly tab out your songs atop a highly-detailed OpenCL-powered spectrogram... Read more
Daylite 6.7.3.1 - Dynamic business organ...
Daylite helps businesses organize themselves with tools such as shared calendars, contacts, tasks, projects, notes, and more. Enable easy collaboration with features such as task and project... Read more
Firefox 68.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser.
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Dashlane 6.1927.0 - Password manager and...
Dashlane is an award-winning service that revolutionizes the online experience by replacing the drudgery of everyday transactional processes with convenient, automated simplicity - in other words,... Read more
BetterTouchTool 3.153 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom)... Read more
calibre 3.46.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.0beta4 - Knowledge base...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.9.0.512 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $20.99/month for a single app, or $52.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
Chromium 75.0.3770.142 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 75.0.3770.142: Release notes were... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Void Tyrant guide - Tips and tricks for...
Void Tyrant continues to get a lot of play in these parts. Probably because the game is just so deep and varied. The next stop on our guide series for Void Tyrant is class-specific guides. First up is the Knight, as it’s the first class anyone has... | Read more »
Summon beasts and battle evil in epic re...
Imagine a tale of conlict between factions of good and evil, where rogueish heroes summon beasts to aid them in them in warfare and courageously battle dragons over fields of scorched earth and brimstone - that's exactly the essence of epic fantasy... | Read more »
Upcoming visual novel Arranged shines a...
If you’re in the market for a new type of visual novel designed to inform and make you think deeply about its subject matter, then Arranged by Kabuk Games could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a wholly unique take on marital traditions in... | Read more »
TEPPEN guide - The three best decks in T...
TEPPEN’s unique take on the collectible card game genre is exciting. It’s just over a week old, but that isn’t stopping lots of folks from speculating about the long-term viability of the game, as well as changes and additions that will happen over... | Read more »
Intergalactic puzzler Silly Memory serve...
Recently released matching puzzler Silly Memory is helping its fans with their intergalactic journeys this month with some very special offers on in-app purchases. In case you missed it, Silly Memory is the debut title of French based indie... | Read more »
TEPPEN guide - Tips and tricks for new p...
TEPPEN is a wild game that nobody asked for, but I’m sure glad it exists. Who would’ve thought that a CCG featuring Capcom characters could be so cool and weird? In case you’re not completely sure what TEPPEN is, make sure to check out our review... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World guide - Other games that...
We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother... | Read more »
Strategy RPG Brown Dust introduces its b...
Epic turn-based RPG Brown Dust is set to turn 500 days old next week, and to celebrate, Neowiz has just unveiled its biggest and most exciting update yet, offering a host of new rewards, increased gacha rates, and a brand new feature that will... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World is yet another disappoin...
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late. [Read more] | Read more »
Retro Space Shooter P.3 is now available...
Shoot-em-ups tend to be a dime a dozen on the App Store, but every so often you come across one gem that aims to shake up the genre in a unique way. Developer Devjgame’s P.3 is the latest game seeking to do so this, working as a love letter to the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend Deal: 2018 13″ MacBook Airs starting...
B&H Photo has clearance 2018 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at only $999 with all models now available for $200 off Apple’s original MSRP. Overnight shipping, or expedited shipping, is free... Read more
Apple has clearance 10.5″ iPad Pros available...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 10.5″ iPad Pros available starting at $469. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, outer shells are new, and shipping is free: – 64GB 10″ iPad Pro... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished iPad mini 4 models...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 32GB iPad mini 4 WiFi models for $229 shipped. That’s $70 off original MSRP for the iPad mini 4. Space Gray, Silver, and Gold colors are available. Read more
Apple, Yet Again, Is Missing An Ultraportable...
EDITORIAL: 07.19.19 Prior to the decision made by Apple earlier this month to retire the thin and light MacBook model with a 12-inch retina display, the Cupertino, California-based company offered,... Read more
Verizon is offering a 50% discount on iPhone...
Verizon is offering 50% discounts on Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models though July 24th, plus save 50% on activation fees. New line required. The fine print: “New device payment & new... Read more
Get a new 21″ iMac for under $1000 today at t...
B&H Photo has new 21″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP with models available starting at $999. These are the same iMacs offered by Apple in their retail and online stores. Shipping is... Read more
Clearance 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook P...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pros available for $1809. Apple’s refurbished price is currently the lowest available for a 15″ MacBook Pro. An standard... Read more
Clearance 12″ 1.2GHz MacBook on sale for $899...
Focus Camera has clearance 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBooks available for $899.99 shipped. That’s $400 off Apple’s original MSRP. Focus charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only. Read more
Get a new 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core MacBook Pro...
B&H Photo has new 2019 13″ 2.4GHz MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many addresses in the US: – 2019 13″ 2.4GHz/256GB 6-Core MacBook Pro Silver... Read more
AirPods with Wireless Charging Case now on sa...
Amazon has extended their Prime Day savings on Apple AirPods by offering AirPods with the Wireless Charging case for $169.99. That’s $30 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the cheapest price available for... Read more

Jobs Board

Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**702908BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000360-Williston-Store Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**711023BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000012-St Cloud-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
*Apple* Systems Architect/Engineer, Vice Pre...
…its vision to be the world's most trusted financial group. **Summary:** Apple Systems Architect/Engineer with strong knowledge of products and services related to Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**696259BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001076-Temecula-Store **Job Description:** The Read more
Business Development Manager, *Apple* Globa...
Business Development Manager, Apple Global Tampa, FL, US Requisition Number:73805 As a Global Apple Business Development Manager at Insight, you proactively Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.