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

Apple Safari 11.0 - Apple's Web bro...
Note: The direct download link is currently unavailable. It is available in the OS X 10.12.6 release, as well as in the Apple Security Updates. Apple Safari is Apple's web browser that comes with... Read more
Xcode 9.0 - Integrated development envir...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.302 - 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
Apple iOS 11 - The latest version of App...
iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to... Read more
NTFS 15.0.911 - $19.95
NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and macOS. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and NTFS. Write, edit, copy, move, delete files on NTFS... Read more
Airfoil 5.6.3 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
ExpanDrive 6.0.16 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Smultron 9.4.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful t...
Smultron 9 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. Use it to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece of text or code.... Read more
Typinator 7.3 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
coconutBattery 3.6.4 - Displays info abo...
With coconutBattery you're always aware of your current battery health. It shows you live information about your battery such as how often it was charged and how is the current maximum capacity in... Read more

The best games to play while you wait fo...
SteamWorld Dig 2 is out this week on PC and Switch, and people are understandably excited. This clever series by Image and Form combines our favorite metroidvania mechanics with an esquisite universe, excellent storytelling, and true wit. While... | Read more »
Drag'n'Boom beginner's gu...
Have you ever wanted to burn and pillage a village as a bloodthirsty dragon? If you answered yes to that question, Drag'n'Boom offers you the perfect chance to do so, casting you as an adorable little dragon that wants to set humankind aflame. It... | Read more »
Thimbleweed Park (Games)
Thimbleweed Park 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: A brand new adventure game from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of the classics Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion!... | Read more »
The best simulation games on mobile
There's nothing like a good sim -- from the seemingly ridiculous to the incredibly mundane, you can be there's a simulation game out there for your every whim. [Read more] | Read more »
INKS guide - how to create works of pinb...
INKS puts a clever new spin on everyone's favorite classic arcade game, pinball. The core mechanics are the same -- keep a little ball pinging around the board for as long as possible without letting it fall into the precarious holes in the board.... | Read more »
Warbands: Bushido (Games)
Warbands: Bushido 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Warbands:Bushido is a miniatures board game with cards, miniatures, dice and beautiful terrains to fight on, with both... | Read more »
The best mobile games like Divinity: Ori...
Divinity: Original Sin 2 launched this week to the excitement of RPG fans everywhere. The game, which derives a lot of of its story and mechanics from old-school isometric RPGs and Dungeons & Dragons, has unseated PlayerUnknown's... | Read more »
Iron Marines guide - beginner tips and t...
Iron Marines is a brilliant RTS title that feels a bit like Starcraft. It's got a sci-fi setting and some of the most spectacular strategy mechanics we've seen in mobile games to date. With that said, the RTS genre can be a bit tricky to break... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
The work week can be tough, but on the bright side, it's almost overandthere are bunches of brand new games to try out this weekend. This week definitely makes up for last week's sleepiness ten-fold. We've got one of the finest RTS game on mobile... | Read more »
Through the Ages (Games)
Through the Ages 1.0.60 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.60 (iTunes) Description: The offical adaptation of Vlaada Chvátil’s strategy classic, the second best board game ever by Board Game Geek website... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Refurbished 3TB Time Capsule for $279,...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 3TB Time Capsules available for $279 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
19% off Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 7
Amazon has both Black and White Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 7s available for $80.41 including free shipping. Their price is $18.59, or 19%, off MSRP. Read more
Back on sale: 10.5-inch 64GB iPad Pros for $5...
MacMall has 10.5″ 64GB Apple iPad Pros on sale again for $599 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP and the lowest price available for this model from any reseller. Read more
Verizon offers Certified Preowned 16GB iPhone...
Verizon has the 16GB iPhone 6, Certified Preowned, available for $259.99 or $10.83 per month for 24 months. Service plan required. According to Verizon, “All CPO devices have been reconditioned to... Read more
Preorder new iPhone 8 at US Cellular, and tak...
Preorder the new iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus at US Cellular, and take $50 off the prepaid price: – 64GB iPhone 8: $649.99 – 128GB iPhone 8: $799.99 – 64GB iPhone 8 Plus: $749.99 – 128GB iPhone 8 Plus... Read more
12-inch and 9-inch Apple iPad Pros, Certified...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ WiFi iPad Pros available starting at $589. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: – 32GB 12″ iPad Pro WiFi: $589... Read more
QuickerTek Announces Solar PV Chargers for US...
Wichita, Kansas based QuickerTek has announced its new 30 Watt and 60 Watt USB Type-C Solar Juicz Chargers. These solar panels are the only products of their kind, featuring the USB 3.1 adapter cable... Read more
Apple refurbished 128GB iPhone 6s and 6s Plus...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ available for up to $100 off the price of new models. Space Gray, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold models are available. Each phone comes... Read more
13-inch 2.3GHz Silver MacBook Pros on sale fo...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ 2.3GHz Silver MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Silver... Read more
12-inch 64GB iPad Pros available for $749, $5...
MacMall has 12″ 64GB iPad Pros on sale for $749 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…about helping others on a team while also delighting customers? As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC), you will discover customers needs and help connect them Read more
Software/Data Engineer, *Apple* Media Produ...
Job Summary Apple Media Products is the team behind the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and many other high profile products on iPhone, Mac and AppleTV. Our Data Read more
SW Engineer , *Apple* Media - Apple Inc. (U...
Job Summary Our team is responsible for exposing Apple Media content and services to the world, and building the infrastructure for next generation internal and Read more
*Apple* Data Center Site Selection and Strat...
Job Summary As Apple 's products and services scale the globe, the Data Center Affairs team works behind the scenes to secure infrastructure for Apple 's data Read more
*Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Yuma, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.