Croissant Runtime
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Ondřej Hruška aae9db0598
fix branch parser eating all list tokens
4 years ago
_stash cleanup. remove conditional jumps, replaced by condition embedded in the enum 4 years ago
crsn fix branch parser eating all list tokens 4 years ago
crsn_arith performance improvements 4 years ago
crsn_buf fix branch parser eating all list tokens 4 years ago
crsn_screen remove unnecessary cloning of SourcePosition, reduce SourcePosition size. clean, format 4 years ago
crsn_stdio add better string and number parsing to sexp. cleaning, more tests 4 years ago
examples fix branch parser eating all list tokens 4 years ago
launcher buffer module, replacing stacks. TODO: docs, fix parsing of "numbers tuple" in mkbfv (consumed by the conditional branch parser) 4 years ago
.gitignore add example config file, add default config file to gitignore 4 years ago
Cargo.lock buffer module, replacing stacks. TODO: docs, fix parsing of "numbers tuple" in mkbfv (consumed by the conditional branch parser) 4 years ago
Cargo.toml buffer module, replacing stacks. TODO: docs, fix parsing of "numbers tuple" in mkbfv (consumed by the conditional branch parser) 4 years ago add better string and number parsing to sexp. cleaning, more tests 4 years ago
crsn.example.json5 add example config file, add default config file to gitignore 4 years ago add script to test that all examples compile 4 years ago


Croissant (or crsn for short) is an extensible runtime emulating a weird microcomputer (or not so micro, that depends on what extensions you install).


What is this for?


How is the performance?

Silly fast, actually. 60fps animations are perfectly doable if that's your thing. It's probably faster than you need for most things, actually.

You can slow it down using the -C argument, or using sleep instructions.

What if I don't enjoy writing assembly that looks like weird Lisp?

Maybe this is not for you


Yup, go ahead. You can also develop your own private crsn extensions, they work like plugins.


The runtime is built as a register machine with a stack and status flags.

  • All mutable state (registers and status), called "execution frame", is local to the running routine or the root of the program.
  • A call pushes the active frame onto a frame stack and a clean frame is created for the callee.
  • The frame stack is not accessible to the running program, it is entirely handled by the runtime.
  • When a call is made, the new frame's argument registers are pre-filled with arguments passed by the caller.
  • Return values are inserted into the callee's frame's result registers before its execution resumes.


  • 8 general purpose registers r0-r7
  • 8 argument registers arg0-arg7
  • 8 result registers res0-res7

All registers are 64-bit unsigned integers that can be treated as signed, if you want to. Overflow is allowed and reported by status flags.

8-, 16-, 32-bit and floating point arithmetic is not currently implemented, but will be added later. Probably. Maybe.

Status flags

Arithmetic and other operations set status flags that can be used for conditional jumps.

  • Equal … Values are equal
  • Lower … A < B
  • Greater … A > B
  • Zero … Value is zero, buffer is empty, etc.
  • Positive … Value is positive
  • Negative … Value is negative
  • Overflow … Arithmetic overflow or underflow, buffer underflow, etc.
  • Invalid … Invalid arguments for an instruction
  • Carry … Arithmetic carry this is currently unused

Status tests (conditions)

These keywords (among others) are used in conditional branches to specify flag tests:

  • eq … Equal,
  • ne … NotEqual,
  • z … Zero,
  • nz … NotZero,
  • lt … Lower,
  • le … LowerOrEqual,
  • gt … Greater,
  • ge … GreaterOrEqual,
  • pos … Positive,
  • neg … Negative,
  • npos … NonPositive,
  • nneg … NonNegative,
  • c … Carry,
  • nc … NotCarry,
  • valid … Valid,
  • inval … Invalid,
  • ov … Overflow,
  • nov … NotOverflow,


The syntax is very much subject to change at the moment. The format described here is valid at the time this file is added to version control.

Instructions are written using S-expressions, because they are easy to parse and everyone loves Lisp.


A program has this format:

    ...<instructions and routines>...


    (ld r0 100)          ; load value into a register
    (:again)             ; a label
    (sub r0 1            ; subtract from a register
        (nz?             ; conditional branch "not zero?"
            (j :again))) ; jump to the label :again

The same program can be written in a compact form:

((ld r0 100)(:again)(sub r0 1 (nz? (j :again))))


Instructions are written like this:

(<keyword> <args>... <conditional branches>...)

Conditional instructions

All instructions can be made conditional by appending .<cond> to the keyword, i.e. means "jump if not equal". This is used internally by the assembler when translating conditional branches to executable code.

Instruction arguments

Args are either:

  • One of the registers (reg0, arg3 etc)
  • Names of constants defined earlier in the program (e.g. SCREEN_WIDTH)
  • Symbols defined as register aliases (e.g. x)
  • The "discard register" _ to discard an output value. That is used when you only care about side effects or status flags.
  • Literal values (decimal, hex or binary)
  • Label or routine name (e.g. factorial, :again)
  • ...or anything else an installed crsn extension supports

Conditional branches

Conditonal branches are written like this:

(<cond>? <instructions>...)
  • If there is more than one conditional branch chained to an instruction, then only one branch is taken - there is no fall-through.
  • The definition order is preserved, i.e. if the inval flag is to be checked, it should be done before checking e.g. nz, which is, incidentally, true by default, because most flags are cleared by instructions that affects flags.


A routine is defined as:

(proc <name>/<arity> instructions...)
  • name is a unique routine name
  • arity is the number of arguments it takes, e.g. 3.
    • you can define multiple routines with the same name and different arities, the correct one will be used depending on how it's called

Or, with named arguments:

(proc <name> <arguments>... instructions...)

Arguments are simply aliases for the argument registers that can then be used inside the routine.

Here is an example routine to calculate the factorial of arg0:

(proc fac/1
    (cmp arg0 2 (eq? (ret 2)))
    (sub r0 arg0 1)
    (call fac r0)
    (mul r0 arg0 res0)
    (ret r0)

It can also be written like this:

(proc fac num

...or by specifying both the arity and argument names:

(proc fac/1 num

Instruction Set

Crsn instruction set is composed of extensions.

Extensions can define new instructions as well as new syntax, so long as it's composed of valid S-expressions.

Labels, jumps and barriers

These are defined as part of the built-in instruction set (see below).

  • Barrier - marks the boundary between routines to prevent overrun. Cannot be jumped across.
  • Local labels - can be jumped to within the same routine, both forward and backward.
  • Far labels - can be jumped to from any place in the code using a far jump (disregarding barriers). This is a very cursed functionality that may or may not have some valid use case.
  • Skips - cannot cross a barrier, similar to a jump but without explicitly defining a label. All local jumps are turned into skips by the assembler.

Skipping across conditional branches may have surprising results - conditional branches are expanded to a varying number of skips and conditional instructions by the assembler. Only use skips if you really know what you're doing.

Jumping to a label is always safer than a manual skip.

Built-in Instructions

; Do nothing

; Stop execution

; Mark a jump target.
; Numbered labels

; Mark a far jump target (can be jumped to from another routine).
; This label is preserved in optimized code.
(far :LABEL)

; Jump to a label
(j :LABEL)

; Jump to a label that can be in another function
(fj :LABEL)

; Skip backward or forward

; Mark a routine entry point (call target).
(routine NAME)
(routine NAME/ARITY)

; Call a routine with arguments.
; The arguments are passed as argX. Return values are stored in resX registers.

; Exit the current routine with return values
(ret VALUES...)

; Deny jumps, skips and run across this address, producing a run-time fault with a message.
(barrier "message text")

; Block barriers are used for routines. They are automatically skipped in execution
; and the whole pair can be jumped *across*
(barrier-open LABEL)
(barrier-close LABEL)

; Generate a run-time fault with a debugger message
(fault "message text")

; Copy value
(ld DST SRC)

; Store status flags to a register
(sst DST)

; Load status flags from a register
(sld SRC)

; Define a register alias. The alias is only valid in the current routine or in the root of the program.

; Define a constant. These are valid in the whole program.

Arithmetic Module

This module makes heavy use of status flags.

Many instructions have two forms:

  • 3 args ... explicit source and destination
  • 2 args ... destination is also used as the first argument
; Test properties of a value - zero, positive, negative
(tst SRC)

; Compare two values
(cmp A B)

; Add A+B
(add DST A B)
(add DST B)

; Subtract A-B
(sub DST A B)
(sub DST B)

; Multiply A*B
(mul DST A B)
(mul DST B)

; Divide A/B
(div DST A B)
(div DST B)

; Divide and get remainder
; Both DST and REM are output registers
(divr DST REM A B)
(divr DST REM B)

; Get remainder A%B
; This is equivalent to (divr _ REM A B),
; except status flags are updated by the remainder value
(mod DST A B)
(mod DST B)

(and DST A B)
(and DST B)

; OR A|B
(or DST A B)
(or DST B)

(xor DST A B)
(xor DST B)

; CPL ~A (negate all bits)
(cpl DST A)
(cpl DST)

; Rotate right (wrap around)
(ror DST A B)
(ror DST B)

; Rotate left (wrap around)
(rol DST A B)
(rol DST B)

; Logical shift right (fill with zeros)
(lsr DST A B)
(lsr DST B)

; Logical shift left (fill with zeros)
(lsl DST A B)
(lsl DST B)

; Arithmetic shift right (copy sign bit)
(asr DST A B)
(asr DST B)

; Arithmetic shift left (this is identical to `lsl`, added for completeness)
(asl DST A B)
(asl DST B)

; Delete an object by its handle. Objects are used by some extensions.
(del @REG)

Stacks Module

This module defines data stacks. Stacks can be shared by routines by passing a handle.

; Create a stack. The register then contains the stack handle.
(stack REG)

; Push to a stack (insert to the end)
(push @REG VALUE)

; Pop from a stack (remove from the end)
(pop DST @REG)

; Reverse push to a stack (insert to the beginning)
(rpush @REG VALUE)

; Reverse pop from a stack (remove from the beginning)
(rpop DST @REG)

To delete a stack, use the del instruction - (del @REG)

Screen module

This module uses the minifb rust crate to provide a framebuffer with key and mouse input.

Colors use the RRGGBB hex format.

If input events are required, then make sure to periodically call (sc-blit) or (sc-poll). This may not be needed if the auto-blit function is enabled and the display is regularly written.

The default settings are 60 FPS and auto-blit enabled.

NOTE: Logging can significantly reduce crsn run speed. Make sure the log level is at not set to "trace" when you need high-speed updates, such as animations.

; Initialize the screen (opens a window)
(sc-init WIDTH HEIGHT)

; Erase the screen (fill with black)
; Fill with a custom color
(sc-erase 0xFF00FF)

; Set pixel color
(sc-px X Y COLOR)

; Set screen option
; 1 ... auto-blit (blit automatically on pixel write when needed to achieve the target FPS)
; 2 ... frame rate

; Blit (render the pixel buffer).
; This function also updates key and mouse states and handles the window close button
; Blit if needed (when the auto-blit function is enabled)
(sc-blit 0)

; Update key and mouse state, handle the window close button

; Read mouse position into two registers.
; Sets the overflow flag if the cursour is out of the window
(sc-mouse X Y)

; Check key status. Keys are 0-127. Reads 1 if the key is pressed, 0 if not.
; A list of supported keys can be found in the extension source code.
(sc-key PRESSED KEY)

; Check mouse button state
; 0-left, 1-right, 2-middle
(sc-mbtn PRESSED BTN)

Stdio module

  • This module currently defines two global handles: @stdin and @stdout.
  • You can think of these handles as streams or SFRs (special function registers). To use them, simply load data to or from the handles (e.g. (ld r0 @stdin)).
  • They operate over unicode code points, which are a superset of ASCII.

You can use these special handles in almost all instructions:

(cmp @stdin 'y' 
    (eq? (ld @stdout '1'))
    (ne? (ld @stdout '0')))

When you compile a program using such handles, you will get a strange looking assembly:

0000 : (ld @0x6372736e00000001 72)
0001 : (ld @0x6372736e00000001 101)
0002 : (ld @0x6372736e00000001 108)

These are unique constants assigned to the streams at compile time. They are not meant to be used directly, but the value can be obtained by simply leaving out the '@' sign: (ld r0 stdin). That can be useful when these stream handles need to be passed to a function. Obviously this makes more sense when there are different kinds of streams available, not just these two default ones.