Originally this was a pet project of mine that was going to follow the progress of the popular game, Human Resource Machine. However, after working out the exercises, I noticed that there was a lot of redundancy because of the fundamental difference of architecture. From there I started trying to figure out how to structure this course.
Since the ARM architecture is a reduced instruction set computer (RISC), there are only about 30 operations that the main processor understands. What I ended up doing was listing them out, grouping them by function, and designing a better set of exercises that explored all of the operations.
Within the exercises, I wanted to discuss some general concepts and how they relate to the assembly world. I tried to visit some important concepts that apply to all programming such as negative numbers and using bit logic to save processing cycles.
I don’t intend for this to be an “authoritative guide to all things ARM assembly,” but rather a set of exercises and lessons that will allow you to start your journey getting closer to the bare metal. While much of this information could be used for embedded programming, there is a short section that is dedicated to interacting with a Linux operating system specfically.
- A computer with an ARM (32-bit) processor that is at least ARMv6. For reference, any Raspberry Pi would work for this.
- Be running a linux operating system. Raspberry Pi OS (previously called Raspbian) is what I will use.
- The following software should be installed by default. If not, it will be
- GNU Compiler Collection
- GNU Make
- GNU Debugger (gdb)
Extended Requirements #
- For the floating point example you will need an ARM processor with a FPU co-processor (VFP)
- For the SIMD example, the processor will need the NEON co-processor
The Future #
Below are some things that I would like to tackle in the future, but need to find the time.
- 64-bit (AArch64) code guide
- Thumb Mode guide
- In depth floating point guide
- In depth NEON co-processor guide
- ASM FFI/inline support in other languages and vice versa
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