TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Avoiding traps
Volume Number:2
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Advanced Macing

Reduce Your Time in the Traps!

By Mike Morton, Senior Software Engineer, Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, MA

Life in the fast lane

The Macintosh ROM subroutines are called with “trap” instructions, intercepted by dispatching software which interprets the trap and calls the routine. This method is very general, providing compatibility with future ROMs and allowing buggy routines to be replaced.

It's also slow, taking about 45 microseconds for the dispatch process. This article tells you a way to avoid the dispatcher without losing its generality. Since the timing differences are measured in microseconds, there's also a discussion of techniques for measuring the time consumed by a piece of code. Also, a program is included to show the alternate way to call the ROM and how to measure the times used by different methods.

Avoiding traps

When a program executes a trap instruction, the 68000 detects the “error” and transfers control to the trap dispatcher pointed to by the longword at $0028. The dispatching software must, among other things:

• preserve some registers on the stack

• fetch the trap instruction from the code

• decide if the trap is a Toolbox or OS call

• look up the trap number to find whether the routine is in RAM or ROM, and what its address is

• handle the “auto-pop” and “pass A0” bits

• call the routine

• restore registers from the stack

Most of this work can be avoided if you know the routine's address and call it directly, but this is a bad idea for two reasons. First, the address may change in future ROMs. Second, Apple distributes “patches” to ROM routines by changing the dispatch table to call new versions in RAM -- if your program “knows” the address, it'll call the old, buggy ROM routines, ignoring the new RAM-based ones.

There is a balance between hardwiring the address and using the trap dispatcher for every call. The Toolbox “GetTrapAddress” function decodes a trap instruction for you and returns the address of the routine, just as the dispatcher does. You can do this decoding just once in your program, save the address, and repeatedly call it later.

The main reason not to bypass the dispatcher is that it saves a few registers across each call. If you're working in assembler, this is no problem -- just save registers yourself, as needed. In most high-level languages, it also won't be a problem, since the registers lost are typically scratch registers: D1, D2, and A2.

Fig. 1 Our TrapTime Utility shows the difference!

A high-level example

First, let's look at the normal way of calling a Toolbox routine: the simple “SetPt” procedure, which sets the coordinates of a Quickdraw “point”. The following example and the timing program are in TML Pascal; they should be easy to convert to other languages.

Most programs include the Quickdraw unit, which declares “setPt” with

procedure SetPt(VAR pt: point; h, v: integer); INLINE $A880;

When you call the routine with the statement

 setPt (myPt, x, y); { set the point }

it pushes the parameters on the stack and executes the instruction $A880 to trap to the dispatcher, which calls the routine. If you want to skip the cost of repeatedly decoding the trap, you can do it once like this:

 var setPtAddr:longint; { addr of setPt }
  
 setPtAddr := getTrapAddress ($A880);

To call this address, declare a new routine like SetPt, but which produces different in-line 68000 code:

procedure mySetPt
 (VAR pt: point; h, v: integer;
 addr: longint);
 INLINE $205F, $4E90;

Note the extra parameter to this routine: the address of the routine to be called. The instructions given in hex after the “INLINE” do a JSR to that address. The result is nearly the same as executing a trap, but faster.

Calling with this interface is almost like a normal call; pass the address as a parameter:

 mySetPt (myPt, x, y, setPtAddr);

This can be used for most Toolbox calls - just declare your own routine (choose any name) with the same parameters plus the address parameter, and include the exact same “INLINE” code after it. Don't forget to initialize the address with GetTrapAddress before calling, or awful things will happen.

Other high-level languages

You should be able to use this method with almost any language which allows you to insert assembler code in your high-level program. Some languages may have trouble calling the ROM directly -- for instance, many C compilers pass parameters differently than ROM routines do. Some C compilers allow you to choose the method of parameter passing; this will allow you to dispense with assembler altogether and just call the routine through a pointer (ask your nearest C guru how to do this).

More straightforward approaches

This approach assumes that “SetPt” is too slow. If you actually need Toolbox operations to be faster, consider writing the code yourself. You can write a procedure or function to assign two integers to the coordinates of a point -- or just do the assignment yourself. For a simple operation, this approach is preferable to spending lots of effort avoiding the trap dispatcher. (The “K.I.S.S.” rule applies here: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”)

Speed improvements: hard data

Let's get quantitative. Consider four ways to assign to a point:

• the usual trap

• calling the ROM directly with INLINE

• calling your own procedure

• doing the assignment in-line

I wrote all four in Lisa Pascal and found these times on a Mac, and on a Lisa running MacWorks:

Table: Time to assign to a point

(all times in microseconds)

Mac Lisa/MacWorks

Normal “SetPt” trap 67.7 84.9

Pre-decoded call 22.8 25.6

Roll-your-own 34.5 35.2

Assign in-line 4.8 4.8

Writing your own procedure is slower than using the trap routine's address! The ROM is so fast, compared to compiled Pascal, that it's worth the slightly more complicated call. Part of the speed is because the ROM is tightly-coded; part is because the Mac's video refresh slows down code in RAM.

The fastest method is to forget about writing a procedure and do the assignment normally. This is fourteen times faster than using traps to call the ROM! (There's something to be said for the do-it-yourself approach.)

I tried running the program on a Mac Plus, since its ROM dispatch table has been expanded for faster trap calls. The time for a normal trap is 58.9 microseconds, instead of 67.7 microseconds. All the other times are nearly the same.

Speed improvements: summary

First, all this isn't worthwhile for most traps. If you want to speed up disk I/O, resource operations, etc., the microseconds saved at trap time are dwarfed by the amount of time for a disk transfer or to search a large resource. This trick is appropriate only in some situations.

Second, some routines are best done by hand in simple code in your program. ROM tools such as “SetPt” exist for your convenience, not because they're hard to code. If you find they're taking too much time, change them to a few lines of your own code.

But suppose you're trying to draw lines at top speed with repeated “LineTo” calls? Or use one of the simple bit manipulators in a loop? You may find that you can't easily write it yourself, but you can save 45 microseconds by calling into the ROM using a previously determined address. My estimate is that if a trap takes between 200 and 800 microseconds, you should consider skipping the dispatcher.

The timing program

The program “traptime” found the times given in the table. It has four procedures to time methods, and a “getbasetime” procedure to find the overhead of a loop with no calls. You can write a similar program using the same design in nearly any language.

Note that the program prints its results in ticks (60ths of a second) and doesn't compute the time for a loop iteration; I did the conversions to microseconds-per-iteration by hand, rather than trying to get Pascal to do fractional arithmetic.

Timing methods

Unfortunately, doing accurate timings is fraught with problems. This program tries to avoid these. Some points on timings:

• Repeat your measurements to help detect “random” factors. Small discrepancies should be averaged; large ones should be found and removed.

• Be careful when comparing routines: the four timing routines (and the “overhead” routine) are identical except for one section. Keeping this parallel structure makes your program a controlled experiment, helping you time only the differences between procedures.

• Vary the loop size; make sure that your time per iteration converges as your loop gets bigger.

• When waiting for the program, don't move the mouse or fiddle with the keyboard. This causes interrupts and affects the timings.

• I suspect you shouldn't have the disk spinning, nor have a debugger active while timing. (In practice, I can't detect any timing differences due to either of these factors.)

In short, timing is a scientific experiment and is easy to ruin by not controlling the environment carefully.

Conclusion

Bypassing the trap dispatcher can be a valuable technique in a limited number of situations, allowing you to cut about 45 microseconds off the time to call the ROM. It has some drawbacks such as losing register contents, and may be hard to implement in some higher-level languages. In addition, many ROM calls take so long that the savings isn't significant.

Whatever technique you're interesting in optimizing and timing, accurate measurement is a matter of a careful, controlled approach.

{ traptime -- A program to time various methods of doing a toolbox trap:
  The usual method, calling a user-written routine to do the work, doing 
the work in-line, and calling the ROM routine directly without going 
through the trap dispatcher. Times for all routines are written on the 
screen in ticks for a given number of calls, then the number of calls 
is varied for improved accuracy.

  Mike Morton, November 1985. Modified for TML Pascal, June 1986. }

program traptime (output);{ "(output)" lets us do writelns }

{$I MemTypes.ipas  }
{$I QuickDraw.ipas } { we use Quickdraw graphics }
{$I OSIntf.ipas }{ and OS definitions }
{$I ToolIntf.ipas }{ and Toolbox calls }

var         { program-wide variables }
  basetime: longint; { constant overhead for the loop }
  loops: longint;         { number of iterations to time }
  start: longint;         { starting tickcount for timing }
  Event:EventRecord; {simple event loop for cmd-3}
  DoIt: Boolean; {getnextevent boolean}
  Finished:Boolean;{event loop terminator}

{ getbasetime -- Find the time for the loop when nothing is done inside 
it.This tells us the overhead which should be subtracted from other timings. 
}

function getbasetime: longint;
var count: longint;        { loop counter }
begin;
  start := tickcount;        { snapshot starting time }
  for count := 1 to loops do        { loop a bunch of times... }
    ;           { ...doing nothing each time }
  getbasetime := tickcount-start;       { calculate elapsed time }
end;            { function "getbasetime" }

{ usualtime -- Find the time used to call the ROM the usual way.  This, 
and all timing routines, should look as much as possible like "getbasetime". 
}

function usualtime: longint;
var
  count: longint;        { loop counter }
  pt: point;        { point to assign to }
  x, y: integer;         { coordinates to assign to the point }
begin;
  start := tickcount;        { snapshot starting time }
  for count := 1 to loops do        { this time, inside the loop... }
    setpt (pt, x, y);        { ...we do the ROM call }
  usualtime := tickcount-start;          { calculate elapsed time }
end;            { function "usualtime" }


{ setmypt -- This isn't a timing function like the others; it's a replacement 
for the ROM's "setpt" routine, to see how fast we can do it ourselves. 
}
procedure setmypt (VAR pt: point; x, y: integer);
begin;
  pt.h := x; pt.v := y; { assign to the coordinates; easy! }
end;    { procedure "setmypt" }

{ myowntime -- Time assignment using our own procedure. }

function myowntime: longint;
var
  count: longint;        { loop counter }
  pt: point;        { point to assign to }
  x, y: integer;         { coordinates to assign to point }
begin;
  start := tickcount;        { snapshot starting time }
  for count := 1 to loops do        { this time, inside the loop... }
    setmypt (pt, x, y);           { ...we call our own routine }
  myowntime := tickcount-start;          { calculate elapsed time }
end;            { function myowntime }

{ inlintime -- The most straightforward way: we do the assignment in 
the loop. }

function inlintime: longint;
var
  count: longint;        { loop counter }
  pt: point;        { point to assign to }
  x, y: integer;         { coordinates to assign to point }
begin;
  start := tickcount;        { snapshot starting time }
  for count := 1 to loops do        { this time, inside the loop... }
    begin; pt.h := x; pt.v := y; end;   { ...we do assignment here }
  inlintime := tickcount-start;          { calculate elapsed time }
end;            { function inlintime }

{ setptx -- This is another replacement for "setpt".  It takes an extra 
parameter, the previously determined address of "setpt", and calls that 
address, leaving the other parameters for "setpt".  Unfortunately, TMLPascal 
doesn't mimic Lisa Pascal closely enough to allow us to generate more 
than one word of code in a single declaration.  So we have two procedures 
-- these MUST always be used together!  TML says their 2.0
 release of the compiler will be Lisa-compatible on this score, so this 
unsightly workaround won't be needed any more. }

procedure setptx1 (var pt: point; h, v: integer; addr: longint);
      INLINE   $205F; { MOVE.L   (A7)+,A0  
 ; pop routine's address into A0  }
procedure setptx2;
      INLINE   $4E90;{ JSR(A0);  and call that address }

{ gettrtime -- The last and most complicated way of calling the routine. 
 We use the trap address to call it directly. }

function gettrtime: longint;
var
  addr: longint;         { actual address of "setpt" }
  count: longint;        { loop counter }
  pt: point;        { point to assign to }
  x, y: integer;         { coordinates to assign to point }
begin;
  addr := gettrapaddress ($a880);    { find where routine lives }
  start := tickcount;         { snapshot starting time }
  for count := 1 to loops do begin { inside the loop... }
    setptx1 (pt, x, y, addr);          { ...we call on ROM  }
    setptx2;{ (kludge to sneak in 2nd instruction }
  end;
  gettrtime := tickcount-start;              { calculate elapsed time 
}
end;             { function gettrtime }

begin;          { *** main program *** }
  writeln ('If launching from a floppy, wait for it to stop and click 
to begin...');
  while not button do; while button do;      { wait for a click }

  loops := 10000;          { start with a small loop size... }
  while loops <= 1000000 do  { and go through several sizes}
  begin;
    basetime := getbasetime;        { find constant overhead }

    writeln ('number of loops:', loops, '; base time is:', basetime);
    writeln ('time for usual method is..........: ', usualtime - basetime);
    writeln ('time for calling my own routine is: ', myowntime - basetime);
    writeln ('time for doing it in-line is......: ', inlintime - basetime);
    writeln ('time for doing it with gettrapaddr: ', gettrtime - basetime);
    writeln;

    loops := loops * 10;   { loop sizes increase exponentially }
  end;

  flushevents(EveryEvent,0);
   writeln ('click to exit or take snapshot ');
  Repeat
  systemtask;
 DoIt:=GetNextEvent(EveryEvent,Event);
 if DoIt then
 Case Event.what of
  KeyDown: begin end;
  Mousedown: begin Finished:=true; end;
  End;
Until Finished;
end.            { of main program "traptime"  }



!PAS$Xfer

trapspeed
PAS$Library
OSTraps
ToolTraps
$ 
 
AAPL
$106.98
Apple Inc.
-0.36
MSFT
$46.05
Microsoft Corpora
-0.57
GOOG
$550.31
Google Inc.
+0.98

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more
NeoFinder 6.6 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
Chromium 38.0.2125.111 - 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. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.11 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »
Haunt the House: Terrortown (Games)
Haunt the House: Terrortown 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 66.6% OFF! SPECIAL SPOOKY HALLOWEEN LAUNCH PRICE! 66.6% OFF! ...What was that sound? Is somebody there? | Read more »
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 Review
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 Review By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FLAWED SHOOTERUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Shoot everything that moves in this fun, if flawed, twin-stick shooter.   | Read more »
Naailde the Witch Review
Naailde the Witch Review By Amy Solomon on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PITCH-PERFECT STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Marvelous storytelling, narration, and moving illustrations make this storybook... | Read more »
1st & Goal Review
1st & Goal Review By Andrew Fisher on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FOR THE D&D LOVING QBUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad 1st & Goal is a board gamer’s football game, a football fan’s board game, and... | Read more »
French Developer Pated Unveils Seashine
French Developer Pated Unveils Seashine Posted by Ellis Spice on October 30th, 2014 [ permalink ] French one-man studio Pated has unveiled Seashine, “a poetic journey into the abyss.” Players take on the role of a jellyfish strugglin | Read more »
Agents of Storm: Tips, Tricks, and Strat...
Calling all agents: Would you like to see what we thought of this rather pretty base builder? Check out our Agents of Storm review! Have you downloaded Agents of Storm, been bowled over by the graphics, and aren’t quite sure what to do next? Never... | Read more »
Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Producti...
Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Productivity Posted by Ellis Spice on October 30th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Base Busters Review
Base Busters Review By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FUN BUT RESTRICTED MIXUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mixing up two forms of tower defense gaming and collectible cards, Base Busters is a fun... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more
Save up to $180 off MSRP with an Apple refurb...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Sr. Manager, *Apple* Deployment Programs fo...
**Job Summary** Apple is seeking candidates for a new position on the Education Content and Technology team. iPad and Mac is in the hands of millions of teachers and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.