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Using an ARM* Cortex* A9 System

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Laboratory Exercise 3
Using an ARM* Cortex* A9 System
This is an introductory exercise in using the ARM* Cortex* A9 processor that is included in Intel’s Cyclone R V
SoC devices. The exercise uses the DE1-SoC Computer, which is implemented as a circuit that is downloaded into
the FPGA device on the board. We will show how to develop programs written in the ARM assembly language
that can be executed on your DE1-SoC board. You will use the Intel FPGA Monitor Program software to compile,
load, and run the application programs.
To perform this exercise you need to be familiar with the ARM processor architecture and its assembly language.
An overview of the ARM processor that is included in Intel’s SoC devices can be found in the tutorial Introduction
to the ARM Processor.

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Laboratory Exercise 3
Using an ARM* Cortex* A9 System
This is an introductory exercise in using the ARM* Cortex* A9 processor that is included in Intel’s Cyclone R V
SoC devices. The exercise uses the DE1-SoC Computer, which is implemented as a circuit that is downloaded into
the FPGA device on the board. We will show how to develop programs written in the ARM assembly language
that can be executed on your DE1-SoC board. You will use the Intel FPGA Monitor Program software to compile,
load, and run the application programs.
To perform this exercise you need to be familiar with the ARM processor architecture and its assembly language.
An overview of the ARM processor that is included in Intel’s SoC devices can be found in the tutorial Introduction
to the ARM Processor. You also need to be familiar with the Monitor Program for developing ARM programs,
which is described in the tutorial Intel FPGA Monitor Program Tutorial for ARM. Both tutorials are available in
Intel’s FPGA University Program web site. The Monitor Program tutorial can also be accessed by selecting Help
> Tutorial within the Monitor Program software.
Part I
In this part you will use the Intel FPGA Monitor Program to set up an ARM software development project.
Perform the following:
1. Make sure that the power is turned on for the DE1-SoC board.
2. Open the Intel FPGA Monitor Program software, which leads to the window in Figure 1.
To develop ARM software code using the Monitor Program it is necessary to create a new project. Select
File > New Project to reach the window in Figure 2. Give the project a name and indicate the folder for
the project; we have chosen the project name part1 in the folder Exercise1\Part1, as indicated in the figure.
Use the drop-down menu shown in Figure 2 to set the target architecture to the ARM Cortex-A9 processor.
Click Next, to get the window in Figure 3.
3. Now, you can select your own custom computer system (if you have one) or a pre-designed (by Intel)
system. As shown in Figure 3 select the DE1-SoC Computer. Once you have selected the computer system
the display in the window will now show where files that implement the chosen system are located. Click
Next.
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Figure 1: The Intel FPGA Monitor Program window.
Figure 2: Specify the folder and the name of the project.
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Figure 3: Specification of the system.
4. In the window in Figure 4 you can specify the type of application programs that you wish to run. They can
be written in either assembly language or the C programming language. Specify that an assembly language
program will be used. The Intel FPGA Monitor Program package contains several sample programs. Select
the box Include a sample program with the project. Then, choose the Getting Started program, as
indicated in the figure, and click Next.
5. The window in Figure 5 is used to specify the source file(s) that contain the application program(s). Since
we have selected the Getting Started program, the window indicates the source code file for this program.
This window also allows the user to specify the starting point in the selected application program. The
default symbol is _start, which is used in the selected sample program. Click Next.
6. The window in Figure 6 indicates some system parameters. Note that the figure indicates that the DE-SoC
[USB-1] cable is selected to provide the connection between the DE-series board and the host computer.
This is the name assigned to the Intel USB-Blaster connection between the computer and the board. Click
Next.
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Figure 4: Selection of an application program.
Figure 5: Source files used by the application program.
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Figure 6: Specify the system parameters.
7. The window in Figure 7 displays the names of Assembly sections that will be used for the program, and
allows the user to select a target memory location for each section. In this case only the .text section, which
corresponds to the program code (and data), will be used. As shown in the figure, the .text section is targeted
to the DDR3 memory in the DE-series board, starting at address 0. Click Save to complete the specification
of the new project.
8. Since you specified a new project, a pop-up box will appear asking you if you want to download the system
associated with this project onto the DE-series board. Make sure that the power to the board is turned on
and click Yes. After the download is complete, a pop-up box will appear informing you that the circuit has
been successfully downloaded—click OK. If the circuit is not successfully downloaded, make sure that the
USB connection, through which the USB-Blaster communicates, is established and recognized by the host
computer. (If there is a problem, a possible remedy may be to unplug the USB cable and then plug it back
in.)
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Figure 7: Specify the program memory settings.
9. Having downloaded the computer system into the Cyclone V SoC chip on your DE1-SoC board, we can
now load and run the sample program. In the main Monitor Program window, shown in Figure 8, select
Actions > Compile & Load to assemble the program and load it into the memory on the board. Figure 8
shows the Monitor Program window after the sample program has been loaded.
10. Run the program by selecting Actions > Continue or by clicking on the toolbar icon , and observe the
patterns displayed on the LEDs.
11. Pause the execution of the sample program by clicking on the icon , and disconnect from this session by
clicking on the icon ,
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Figure 8: The monitor window showing the loaded sample program.
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Part II
Now, we will explore some features of the Monitor Program by using a simple application program written in
the ARM assembly language. Consider the program in Figure 9, which finds the largest number in a list of 32-bit
integers that is stored in the memory.
/* Program that finds the largest number in a list of integers */
.text // executable code follows
.global _start
_start:
MOV R4, #RESULT // R4 points to result location
LDR R2, [R4, #4] // R2 holds number of elements in the list
MOV R3, #NUMBERS // R3 points to the list of integers
LDR R0, [R3] // R0 holds the largest number so far
LOOP: SUBS R2, #1 // decrement the loop counter
BEQ DONE // if result is equal to 0, branch
ADD R3, #4
LDR R1, [R3] // get the next number
CMP R0, R1 // check if larger number found
BGE LOOP
MOV R0, R1 // update the largest number
B LOOP
DONE: STR R0, [R4] // store largest number into result location
END: B END
RESULT: .word 0
N: .word 7 // number of entries in the list
NUMBERS: .word 4, 5, 3, 6 // the data
.word 1, 8, 2
.end
Figure 9: Assembly-language program that finds the largest number.
Note that some sample data is included in this program. The word (4 bytes) at the label RESULT is reserved for
storing the result, which will be the largest number found. The next word, N, specifies the number of entries in
the list. The words that follow give the actual numbers in the list.
Make sure that you understand the program in Figure 9 and the meaning of each instruction in it. Note the
extensive use of comments in the program. You should always include meaningful comments in programs that
you will write!
Perform the following:
1. Create a new folder for this part of the exercise, with a name such as Part2. Create a file named part2.s and
enter the code from Figure 9 into this file. Use the Monitor Program to create a new project in this folder; we
have chosen the project name part2. When you reach the window in Figure 4 choose Assembly Program
but do not select a sample program. Click Next.
2. Upon reaching the window in Figure 5, you have to specify the source code file for your program. Click
Add and in the pop-up box that appears indicate the desired file name, part2.s. Click Next to get to the
window in Figure 6. Again click Next to get to the window in Figure 7. Notice that the DDR3_SDRAM
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is selected as the memory device. Your program will be loaded starting at address 0 in this memory. Click
Finish.
3. Compile and load the program. Monitor Program will display a disassembled view of the machine code
loaded in the memory, as indicated in Figure 10.
4. Execute the program. When the code is running, you will not be able to see any changes (such as the
contents of registers or memory locations) in the Monitor Program window, because the Monitor Program
cannot communicate with the ARM processor while code is being executed. But, if you pause the program
then the Monitor Program window will be updated. Pause the program using the icon and observe that
the processor stops within the endless loop END: B END. Note that the largest number found in the sample
list is 8 as indicated by the contents of register R0. This result is also stored in memory at the label RESULT.
The address of the label RESULT for this program is 0x00000038. Use the Monitor Program’s Memory
tab, as illustrated in Figure 11, to verify that the resulting value 8 is stored in the correct location.
5. You can return control of the program to the start by clicking on the icon , or by selecting Actions >
Restart. Do this and then single-step through the program by clicking on the icon . Watch how the
instructions change the data in the processor’s registers.
6. Double-click on the pc register in the Monitor Program and then set the program counter to 0. Note that
this action has the same effect as clicking on the restart icon .
7. Now set a breakpoint at address 0x0000002C by clicking on the gray bar to the left of this address, as
illustrated in Figure 12. Restart the program and run it again. Observe the contents of register R0 each time
the instruction at the breakpoint, which is B LOOP, is reached.
Figure 10: The disassembled view of the program in Figure 9.
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Figure 11: Displaying the result in the memory tab.
Figure 12: Setting a breakpoint.
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Part III
Implement the task in Part II by modifying the program in Figure 9 so that it uses a subroutine. The subroutine,
LARGE, has to find the largest number in a list. The main program passes the number of entries and the address
of the start of the list as parameters to the subroutine via registers R0 and R1. The subroutine returns the value of
the largest number to the calling program via register R0. A suitable main program is given in Figure 13.
Create a new folder and a new Monitor Program project to compile and download your program. Run your
program to verify its correctness.
/* Program that finds the largest number in a list of integers */
.text // executable code follows
.global _start
_start:
MOV R4, #RESULT // R4 points to result location
LDR R0, [R4, #4] // R0 holds the number of elements in the list
MOV R1, #NUMBERS // R1 points to the start of the list
BL LARGE
STR R0, [R4] // R0 holds the subroutine return value
END: B END
/* Subroutine to find the largest integer in a list
* Parameters: R0 has the number of elements in the lisst
* R1 has the address of the start of the list
* Returns: R0 returns the largest item in the list
*/
LARGE: . . .
. . .
RESULT: .word 0
N: .word 7 // number of entries in the list
NUMBERS: .word 4, 5, 3, 6 // the data
.word 1, 8, 2
.end
Figure 13: Main program for Part III.
Part IV
The program shown in Figure 14 converts a binary number into two decimal digits. The binary number is loaded
from memory at the location N, and the two decimal digits that are extracted from N are stored into memory in
two bytes starting at the location Digits. For the value N = 76 (0x4c) shown in the figure, the code sets Digits to
00000706.
Make sure that you understand how the code in Figure 14 works. Then, extend the code so that it converts the
binary number to four decimal digits, supporting decimal values up to 9999. You should modify the DIVIDE
subroutine so that it can use any divisor, rather than only a divisor of 10. Pass the divisor to the subroutine in
register R1.
If you run your code with the value N = 9876 (0x2694), then Digits should be set to 09080706.
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/* Program that converts a binary number to decimal */
.text // executable code follows
.global _start
_start:
MOV R4, #N
MOV R5, #Digits // R5 points to the decimal digits storage location
LDR R4, [R4] // R4 holds N
MOV R0, R4 // parameter for DIVIDE goes in R0
BL DIVIDE
STRB R1, [R5, #1] // Tens digit is now in R1
STRB R0, [R5] // Ones digit is in R0
END: B END
/* Subroutine to perform the integer division R0 / 10.
* Returns: quotient in R1, and remainder in R0
*/
DIVIDE: MOV R2, #0
CONT: CMP R0, #10
BLT DIV_END
SUB R0, #10
ADD R2, #1
B CONT
DIV_END: MOV R1, R2 // quotient in R1 (remainder in R0)
MOV PC, LR
N: .word 76 // the decimal number to be converted
Digits: .space 4 // storage space for the decimal digits
.end
Figure 14: A program that converts a binary number into two decimal digits.
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