Graphical microcode simulator with a reconfigurable datapath

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VanBuren, Brian
Control unit; Datapath; Graphical; Microcode; Processors; Simulator
thesis / dissertation description
Microcode is a symbolic way to simplify control design that allows changing, testing and updating the control unit of processors. By changing the microcode, the same datapath can be used for an entirely different application, such as supporting a completely different instruction set. For these reasons, a majority of control units in modern day processors are microcoded. The object was to investigate and implement a graphical microcode simulator with a reconfigurable datapath and microcode format. By allowing a wide configuration of the datapath, many types of logical processors can be designed and simulated. The resulting implemented simulator is able to fill the void in microprogramming tools since there are no graphical microcode simulators that allow such customization of the datapath. The customization of the datapath goes beyond allowing different files specifying the datapath, it allows the datapath to be created and modified using the graphical interface.This tool is able to be used to design and simulate general-purpose processors and application specific processors through datapath and microcode configurations. In the academic setting, this tool provides easier microcode testing through verification on the instruction level for instructors and provide simulation debugging through code tracing and breakpoints for students.