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How does the memory controller know whether the current access is aligned/non aligned word/half-word/byte?

Applies to: ARM7TDMI

Answer

MAS[1:0] is used to indicate whether a word/half-word or byte access is to be performed, and is described in the ARM7TDMI Technical Reference Manual (1.8MB PDF).

The signal has the following states:

MAS[1:0] 
Bit 1Bit 0Data Size
00Byte
01Half-word
10Word
11(reserved)

The memory system must be able to handle word, half word and byte writes.

Memory systems supporting only word writes will have severe difficulties supporting C code because the compilers assume that the underlying access types of the ARM architecture are always available. Furthermore, it will not be possible to set software breakpoints in Thumb code using the EmbeddedICE Interface.

Instruction fetches:

When in Thumb state, A[0] is not driven, and will be held at whatever level it was last driven to, by a 'sticky latch'. Usually, this will be set following a BX instruction (with bit 0 of the register set), or a data transfer to/from an odd address. It would normally be cleared again following a data transfer to/from an even address.

The memory controller should ignore A[0] for Thumb instruction fetches (nOPC=0 and MAS[1:0]=01), and A[1:0] for ARM instruction fetches (nOPC=0 and MAS[1:0]=10).

See also:

Article last edited on: 2008-09-09 15:47:35

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