Skip to content
This repository

HTTPS clone URL

Subversion checkout URL

You can clone with HTTPS or Subversion.

Download ZIP

A tool for compressing binaries

branch: master

Fetching latest commit…

Octocat-spinner-32-eaf2f5

Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time

Octocat-spinner-32 LICENSE.txt
Octocat-spinner-32 Makefile
Octocat-spinner-32 README.rst
Octocat-spinner-32 compressor.c
Octocat-spinner-32 image_n0c0.bin
README.rst

This directory contains a tool to compress an executable XCore binary by 20-25%.

Quickstart

To compile:

make

To compress an example binary:

make decompress.xe

To compress your own binary:

xobjdump --split --strip file.xe
./compressor -b 0x10000 -t 0x18000 image_n0c0.bin -o decompress.xe -target=XK-1

This command creates a file decompress.xe that contains an executable that will execute at address 0x10000. This executable will create the binary of image_n0c0.bin (from file.xe using xobjdump) at address 0x18000, and then jump to address 0x18000 to execute file.xe. You can use this to, for example, store a compressed program in OTP.

The detail

The program is inspired by the liblzg project by Marcus Geelnard, <http://liblzg.bitsnbites.eu/>. The compression algorithm is slightly simplified, and has been written from scratch to make sure that the decompression is be space-efficient on XMOS processors; not necessarily speed-efficient. The decompressor program is generated by the compressor (typically around 120 bytes), together with the compressed binary as a single assembly file.

The compressed binary is a sequence of bytes that are mostly the original binary. Where sequences are repeated in the original binary, these sequences are replaced with a command in the compressed binary to copy the sequence from an earlier spot. There are three commands to achieve this:

  • Command 0: copies a long sequence over a short distance
  • Command 1: copies a short sequence over a medium distance
  • Command 2: copies a long sequence over a long distance

Command 0 comprises a marker symbol (called marker0), and a byte that contains the length of the sequence encoded in the top few bits, and the distance encoded in the bottom few bits. The length encoding subtracts 3 (so bits '000000' means that the length of the sequence is 3, and bits '000110' means that the length of the sequence is 9), and the distance encoding divides by 2 (so bits '01' means that the sequence is 2 bytes in the past, and bits '11' means that the sequence is 6 bytes in the past). The number of bits for length and distance is determined at compression time, and encoded in the decompressor binary.

Command 1 is very similar to Command 0, but uses a different trade-off in the number of bits allocated to length and distance. It comprises a marker symbol (called marker1), and a byte that contains the length of the sequence encoded in the top few bits, and the distance encoded in the bottom few bits. The length encoding subtracts 3 (so bits '00' means that the length of the sequence is 3, and bits '10' means that the length of the sequence is 5), and the distance encoding divides by 2 and subtracts the maximum distance encoding for Command 1 (so, assuming that command 0 can span 6 bytes, bits '000001' means that the sequence is 8 bytes in the past, and bits '000011' means that the sequence is 12 bytes in the past). As with command 0, the number of bits for length and distance is determined at compression time, and encoded in the decompressor binary.

Command 2 comprises a byte with the value marker2, and two bytes for encoding length and offset. The second byte is the LSB of the distance. The first byte encodes the most significant bits of the distance and the length. The encodings are as in Command 1, and the split is again determined at compression time.

The values for marker0, marker1, and marker2 are also established at compression time, and are either values that do not occur in the binary, or otherwise values that occur infrequently. If any of the marker values occur, then the marker symbol followed by value '0' is an escape to insert the marker symbol.

The compressor

The compression engine tries all sensible bit splits in Command 0, 1, and 2, and searches backwards through the whole binary for longest matching lengths. Once the compression engine has explored the space it uses the best bit splits for Command 0, 1, and 2, and generates a compressed binary. It then creates an assembly file containing the compressor with the correct marker-values, bit splits, and compressed binary. The binary is padded with an extra '0' byte if the number of bytes is an odd number.

The assembly file is then compiled into a .xe binary, and this binary is executed using the simulator to verify that it produces the expected original binary. Any errors are reported.

The process takes a few seconds.

The decompressor

The decompressor is a piece of assembly code that interprets the binary. The target address, marker values, and bit splits are all hard coded in the assembly code.

The decompressor is position independent and can execute at any address. The target address is the address at which the uncompressed code expects to run.

Further optimisations

  • A fourth marker could be used to occupy the medium sequences over a medium distance - this adds 16 bytes or so the the encoder, and saves 60 bytes or so in the binary.
  • The compressor could try 1 or more markers, each with 1 or 2 bytes sequences, and pick the shortest sequence (including the code for decoding, which grows with more markers)
  • A test could be made whether any markers occur in the binary - if not, the test for escape characters can be omitted.
Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.