[Main] [Docs] [Installs] [Search] [Team] [Guestbook] [Links]


What it is

Snooping is a feature of WHDLoad which performs validating and logging of accesses to the Custom and CIA registers. If Snoop is activated all invalid accesses will create an Access Fault and the installed program will be terminated. WHDLoad will show a requester explaining the reason of the fault.

Custom registers

All read and write accesses to the custom registers are verified. Invalid accesses are: Strobe registers can be read or written. The set of valid Custom registers varies between OCS (Old ChipSet - A500, A1000, old A2000), ECS (Enhanced ChipSet - A600, new A2000, A3000) and AGA (Advanced Graphics - A1200, A4000). This is useful especially to locate bugs in old programs caused by undefined accesses to new AGA registers.

Using the function resload_Control and the tags WHDLTAG_CUST_DISABLE/READ/STROBE/WRITE the internal configuration of WHDLoad which registers are readable/writable can be modified. With that illegal accesses can be ignored or legal accesses can be detected. This should only be used during the development process and not in public released Slaves.

CIA registers

With the CIA registers only write accesses are verified. That means that read accesses to non existent registers in the memory area of $bfd000...$bfefff won't get detected. For all write accesses the written value will be saved internally by WHDLoad. For some CIA registers there are special checks depending on the written value:

address register check
$bfe001 ciaa.ciapra setting the Overlay bit #0 is prohibited
$bfe201 ciaa.ciaddra bits #6-7 can have any value (used for joypad), lower bits must be %000011
$bfe801 ciaa.ciatodlow read-modify-write accesses (e.g. bchg) are not allowed if ALARM bit is set in ciaa.ciacrb (only checked on 68060)
$bfe901 ciaa.ciatodmid
$bfea01 ciaa.ciatodhi
$bfed01 ciaa.ciaicr read-modify-write accesses (e.g. bchg) are not allowed (only checked on 68060)
$bfd100 ciab.ciaprb the bits for MOTOR #7, SELECT #3-6 and STEP #0 must not be cleared, other bits can be changed; with that any accesses to the floppy drives will be detected
$bfd200 ciab.ciaddra the value written must be %11000000
$bfd300 ciab.ciaddrb the value written must be %11111111
$bfd800 ciab.ciatodlow read-modify-write accesses (e.g. bchg) are not allowed if ALARM bit is set in ciab.ciacrb (only checked on 68060)
$bfd900 ciab.ciatodmid
$bfda00 ciab.ciatodhi
$bfdd00 ciab.ciaicr read-modify-write accesses (e.g. bchg) are not allowed (only checked on 68060)

How it works

If Snoop is enabled, WHDLoad marks the addresses of the Custom and CIA registers as invalid/write-protected in the MMU translation tree. Because of this, each access to a Custom or CIA register will result in an Access Fault exception. The exception handler in WHDLoad handles this exception. First it checks if the access is valid. If the access is invalid the program will be terminated. If the access is valid and is a read operation it will be emulated and program execution continues. If it is a write operation WHDLoad additional saves the value written to a internal storage.
Because the overhead of the exception and the emulation sequence the program execution will slow down. How much it slows down depends on the CPU type, Chip Memory type (16/32-bit) and Stackpointer alignment if Chip Memory is 32-bit (LongWord aligned or not). It also differs for the access type (Byte/Word/LongWord, Read/Write). On the 68030 Writes are faster than Reads (because on reads the stackframe is 92 bytes on writes 32 bytes), on the 68060 Reads are faster because the emulation for Writes is more complex.

Fast Snoop Mode

The option Snoop/S enables the fast snooping. Read accesses will not be checked. No special checks are performed. This mode may be useful to only get contents of the Custom registers, e.g. to save a picture using SP.

Copper List Scanner

Since version 13 of WHDLoad also copperlists itself will be checked. The scanner will be activated on writes to the coplc registers if the copper dma is enabled, or when the installed program enables the coppper dma by writing the dmacon register. The scanner follows the copperlists and validates all Move instructions by applying the restrictions caused by the Snoop option (OCS/ECS/AGA). Skip and Wait (except CEND) instructions will be ignored. When it finds invalid entries the installed program will be terminated. The scanner follows branches (copjmp), detects loops and checks upto 16 sublists. The Moves in copperlists will be saved in the internal Custom register storage which is dumped at WHDLoad exit. The scanner is not active in Fast Snoop Mode.

Audio Pointer Check

When option ChkAudPt/S is activated WHDLoad will check that the installed program does write only valid addresses to the Custom audio DMA pointers. Valid means that the pointer must be inside BaseMem and unequal 0. Checked are only long write operations. Word writes are unchecked. This check may be useful to locate problems in audio replay routines.

Blitter Priority Check

When option ChkBltHog/S is activated WHDLoad will check that the installed program does not enable the BltHog bit by a write to the dmacon register. The Blitter Priority can cause problems on some hardware configuration in conjunction with large blitter operations (all channels used).

Blitter Size Check

When option ChkBltSize/S is activated WHDLoad will check that blitter jobs do not access any memory outside the BaseMem area. On write accesses to bltsize or bltsizh it checks if the line mode is enabled in bltcon1. If the line mode is active it will cancel the size check. Otherwise WHDLoad will calculate the first and the last word to access for each activated DMA channel. If one address is outside the BaseMem area the program will be terminated with a requester. The calculation is designed to work with all modes (ascending/descending, positive/negative modulos, odd modulos/pointers).
Beware that the line drawing mode will not be verified and that all blitter registers can also be written by the copper if copcon is set.

Blitter Wait Check

When option ChkBltWait/S is activated WHDLoad will use a instruction trace to verify that the installed program does correctly wait for the blitter to finish before starting a new blitter job. It uses a internal variable which represents the working state of the blitter. The variable is set when a write access to the bltsize or bltsizh occurs and cleared when read access to the dmaconr register is performed. On each write to a blitter register the value of the internal variable is checked, if it states a running blitter job the installed program will be terminated and WHDLoad will report the PC of the last started blitter job together with the actual access.
There are two major bottlenecks of this feature. First blitter usage via the copper are not checked and second the use of blitter interrupts will cause the check routine to report errors without necessity.

Color Burst Check

When option ChkColBst/S is activated WHDLoad checks that on each write to the custom.bplcon0 register the color bit is set. Some hardware especially flickerfixer require that this bit is set to output a proper video signal. For best compatibility this bit should always be set. Checked are direct writes to custom.bplcon0 and writes via copperlists.

Copper Control Check

When option ChkCopCon/S is activated WHDLoad checks that on each write to the custom.copcon register the bit #1 is not set. This bit enables the ability of the Copper to write to the Blitter registers. It may sometimes useful to detect if programs use the Copper to control DMA activities.


It is planned to implement features like Freezing and Iconifing. For these, Snoop is a requirement. Therefore it is recommended for install authors to check their installs with Snoop to secure future compatibility.


An MMU is required for the Snoop feature. Also WHDLoad must use the MMU, therefore MMU/S must be enabled on 68030 machines.


[Main] [Docs] [Installs] [Search] [Team] [Guestbook] [Links]