A different approach

Despite heavy optimisation it seems that my current approach simply will not work the way I have implemented it.  There are too many cycles wasted to updating variables to make it feasible, it may be possible with the DSP due to it’s high speed local cache, but 68K and DRAM nope.  So time for a change of plan.

An alternative approach mentioned a while ago by Zerosquare was to simply write out the sample data to a circular buffer, and play this, only updating during the VBI.  The size of the buffer obviously has to contain sufficient sample data to maintain constant playback for the period between VBI but this is typically a very small time period (20ms for 50Hz or 16.6ms for 60Hz), which translates to only needing quite a small buffer for sample data (8kHz with 60Hz VBI is around 134 samples, double that for 16kHz etc).  Triggering the code less frequently also means less time is spent saving and restoring CPU state between interrupts, the more complex the code the more you have to save/restore, so doing so less frequently is a saving in time also.  More time doing actual work and not the associated ‘paperwork’ around it.

One additional big advantage to this approach is no need to save incremental updates to counters for every sample, instead these counters can be held in the CPU’s data registers for the duration of the processing and only written at the end, reducing the number of memory calls made by the CPU significantly.

So last night, after much mulling over on the sofa, I started this rewrite already past my stop coding deadline (if I code much past 21:00 at night it becomes hard to shut down the brain and get some sleep 🙂 ), I was quite pleased that I have a very rough working version of this code already and in under an hour of fairly half arsed hacking.  I have mostly repurposed my existing code, so it is still horrifically inefficient, however it has already demonstrated significant time saving even in it’s current form.  With this working base reworking it to take full advantage of the new benefits of this technique shouldn’t be too difficult.

Hopefully if I get home tonight with sufficient time I will have an opportunity to try.

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