Skip to content

Binary to Ascii Conversion itoa() and ltoa()

March 1, 2015

Running interminable tests of bagels I noticed that the function that prints IP addresses seemed noticeably slow. Looking at it, the part that prints the individual numbers is still using an itoa() routine written in C that does repeated divisions. A while ago Charles Richmond recommended something called the double dabble algorithm for binary to ascii conversion. It looks like I implemented that for 32 bit integers but not for 16 bit. Coincidentally Charles has been mulling over improvements to the double dabble algorithm. So my first step was to convert the existing 32 bit double dabble routine to 16 bits. Because nothing is simple, I also had to create a little wrapper in C to call it (the reason for the wrapper is that the ascii string returned by the double dabble algorithms doesn’t necessarily start at the beginning of the passed buffer so to combine it with a – for negative numbers, doing a separate strcpy seemed like the simplest approach).

looking at the code i was worried that i might be trading size for speed but it turns out that dubdab16 along with the itoadd wrapper are about 240 bytes long and the original itoa written in C was about 384 bytes.

In terms of speed, even the baseline double dabble routine is better than the old itoa: about 3 seconds to convert 500 4 digit numbers vs 4.6 for the original. In milliseconds that’s 1.5ms/digit vs about 2.2ms/digit for the original itoa. If i can get that down to something like 1ms/digit i’ll be happy.

Probably the most fruitful optimization i could do would be to get rid of that wrapper but i’ll do that later! Charles’s optimization approach notes are embedded at the bottom of this post.

char * itoa(int s, char *buffer){ //convert an integer to printable ascii in a buffer supplied by the caller
	unsigned int r,k,n;
	unsigned int flag=0;
	char * bptr; bptr=buffer;
	if (s<0){
	} else{
		for(r=0;k<=n;r++,n-=k); // was r=n/k
		if (flag || r>0||k==1){

	return buffer;
char * itoadd(int s, char *buffer){ //convert an integer to printable ascii in a buffer supplied by the caller
	char* bptr=buffer;
	if (s<0){
	strcpy(bptr,dubdab16(s,bptr)); //uses assembler double-dabble routine
	return buffer;

;experimental binay-ascii conversion using the double-dabble algorithm for 16 bits
;thanks to Charles Richmond for the suggestion and code
;interger is passed in r12
;buffer pointer is passed in r13
;a pointer to the 1st non-zero byte in the buffer is passed back in r15
;r8-11 are used as temps
;r8 is the working pointer
;r15.0 is bit count(32) and the return value register
;r9.0 is digit count
	cpy2 r8,r13 ;buffer address
	ldi 6	;digit count+1 for trailing 0
	plo r9
$$clrlp:	;clear the passed buffer
	ldi 0	
	str r8	;clear a byte
	inc r8
	dec r9
	glo r9	;check the count
	bnz $$clrlp ;back for more
	cpy2 r8,r13 ;get the address back

	ldi 16	;bit count
	plo r15
;now i'm going to spin off any leading 0's in the binary number
	ghi r12		;get the top bit of the number
	shl		;check for a 1
	bdf $$bitloop	;move on if we have one
	shl2 r12	;shift the input number
	dec r15		;reduce the number of times to shift
	glo r15
	bnz $$cktop	;
	inc r15		;our whole number was 0 but force at least one pass
	ldi 5	;digit count
	plo r9
	ldn r8 	;pick up a digit
	smi 5	;see if it's greater than 4
	bnf $$dnoadd ;if not, bypass add
	adi 0x08	;add the 5 black and 3 more
	str r8	;put it back
	inc r8
	dec r9	;decrement digit count
	glo r9
	bnz $$dcklp ;and back for next digit
	shl2 r12 ;shift the input number
	ldi 5	;load the digit count again
	plo r9
;r8 is now just past the units location and ready to walk back
	dec r8	;walk back from 0's position
	ldn r8	;get the digit back
	shlc	;continue the shift
	phi r15 ;save it for the carry test
	ani 0x0f ;clear the 10 bit
	str r8	;put the digit back
	ghi r15	;now test for carry
	smi 0x10 ; this will make df 1 if the 10 bit is set
	dec r9	;decrement the digit count
	glo r9
	bnz $$dshlp ;back for more if needed
	dec r15
	glo r15
	bnz $$bitloop
	cpy2 r15,r8	;save the starting location of the digits
	ldi 5		;digit count again
	plo r9
	ldn r8		;get digit
	ori 0x30	;make ascii
	str r8		;put it back
	inc r8		;next digit
	dec r9		;counter
	glo r9
	bnz $$upnxt	;upgrade all 10 spots
	ldi 4		;max number of 0's to skip
	plo r9		;number of leading 0's to skip
	ldn r15		;check digit
	smi 0x30	;for '0'
	bnz $$done
	inc r15		;next digit
	dec r9		;reduce count
	glo r9
	bnz $$cknext

DubDab Optimize

Why Does Double-Dabble Work


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: