Last modified on 30 April 2013, at 15:31

360 Assembly/Branch Instructions

The branch instructions for the 360 Series mainframe computer come in three types: No Branch At all, otherwise known as No-Operation or NO-OP, Conditional Branch, and Unconditional Branch

In the examples below, it is presumed that R1,R14,R15 are labels "equated" to the equivalent registers in these examples to provide a cross reference listing. The examples would function equally well without the R prefixes, but it is common practice for programmers to use a label equated to each of the numbers, because references to registers do not show up in the cross-reference listing, but references to symbols do.

Branch instructions available on all modelsEdit

The following instructions are available for all models of the 360 series, including the 360, 370 and zSystem.

  • BC - Branch on Condition
  • BCT - Branch on CounT
  • BAL - Branch And Link
  • BALR - Branch and Link Register

The general use of these is explained below.

No BranchEdit

Certain types of branch instructions are treated as a no branch, or no-operation (NO-OP). Generally they involve the use of Register 0 or a mask value of 0. These are:

  • Register branch targeting Register 0
  • Register to storage branch (regardless of mask) where the Index register is 0
  • Register to storage branch where the mask is 0
Label1    BR    R0            No branch
          BC    0,Label1      Branch not taken; mask is 0
          BALR  R14,R0        Branch not taken; this is used at the start of a 
*                             module to load the left register with the address
*                             of the next instruction to establish addressing
          BC   15,100(R1,R0)  Because R0 is the Index Register, the branch is not taken
*                             even though the mask indicates an unconditional branch

Unconditional branchEdit

An unconditional branch instruction causes the Program location counter (PSW) to be set to the address specified in the register or the register plus a 12-bit offset, or the register & offset plus the value of an additional "index" register.

The branch does not occur, and is treated as a no-op, for a BR instruction using register 0. The branch does not occur, and is treated as an instruction to load the address of the following instruction into the left register, if the right register in a BALR instruction is 0. No conditional branch - including unconditional branch - will occur if the index register is 0.

These instructions may be one of the following types:-

  • Register to register (RR)
Example1  BR    R15              Branch to the location whose address is in Register 15
Example2  BR    R0               No Branch - Acts like no-op
Example3  BALR  R14,R15          Branch to the location whose address is in Register 15, put
*                                return address in R14
Example4  BALR  R12,R0           Load Register 12 with the address of the next instruction, 
*                                but do not branch
  • Storage (RS)
Example1  B     4(R15)           Branch to the location in R15 plus the (16 bit)
*                                    decimal displacement of 4
Example2  B     X'010'(R15)      Branch to the location in R15 plus the (16 bit) hex
*                                displacement of decimal 16
Example3   B     LABEL1           Branch to the location with the specified address (Base & 
*                                displacement set by the Assembler)
Example4   BAL   R14,X'010'(R15)  Branch to location in (R15 plus displacement), put 
*                                return address in R14.
LABEL1   EQU   *               A location (within the range of the base register
*                              for the program) 
*          B     106(R0)          Do not branch; treat as NO-OP
  • Indexed (RX)
Example1   B     4(R15,R1)        Branch to location whose address is calculated from R15
*                                plus 4 plus R1
Example2   B     10(R12,R0)       No branch because index register is 0; treated as NO-OP
Example3   B     10(R0,R12)       This is standard, and will branch to the address at the location 
*                                in Register 12 + a displacement of 10

Conditional branchEdit

A conditional branch instruction causes the location counter in the PSW to be set to the address specified in the register or the register plus a 12-bit offset, if a condition is satisfied (and the register is not 0) and thus may be one of the following types:-

  • Storage (RS)
Example   BE     4(R15)          Branch to the location in (R15 plus 4), if previous 
*                                comparison gave "Equal" condition (8)
Example   BE     12(R0)          As specified earlier, branch on R0 is treated as a NO-OP
*                                and does not branch
Example   BC     8,4(R15)        Branch to the location in (R15 plus 4), if previous 
*                                comparison gave "Equal" condition (8)
*                                (same as above but specifying actual condition code 
*                                 value = 8)
Example   BC     7,X'010'(R15)   Branch to the location in (R15 plus X'010') if previous
*                                comparison gave "Unequal" condition (7)
  • Indexed (RX)
Example   BCT   R1,4(R15)        Reduce value in R1 by 1 and, if it is then zero, branch
*                                to location in (R15 plus 4 )
Example   BCT   R1,12(R0)        The register is reduced by 1, but the branch will never occur
  • Register to register (RR)
Example   BCTR   R1,R15          Reduce value in R1 by 1 and, if it is then zero, branch
*                                to address in R15
Example   BCTR   R1,R0           Reduce R1 by 1 but do not branch.  This instruction is often
*                                used to subtract 1 from a register

Branch Table (technique)Edit

A branch table is a literally a set of contiguous unconditional branch instructions which are of equal length (usually 4 bytes), that are used to very efficiently branch directly to one of this set, using an index. This index is often generated from some source input value that may itself be non-sequential as in the example below. This method is considerably faster than using either a binary search or sequential table lookup for example. Lookups involve compare instructions and a subsequent conditional branch. Only 5 instructions are used in the example (2 of which are unconditional branch) that perform the following:-

  • 1. Validate the input (translates any input values, other than A,S,M,D, to a null index value)
  • 2. Translate the input value (using an INSERT CHARACTER 'IC' instruction with an index) to one of 0,4,8,12 or 16 (= the index)

earlier versions of this technique used 'TR'& 'IC' instructions, which was 4-5 times slower than using two 'IC' instructions)

  • 3. Branch unconditionally to the appropriate unconditional branch instruction using the index - a zero value results in branching to an error routine. (unconditional branches do not rely on previous character or numeric comparison instructions)
Example Consider an input variable that is a single byte character in the range A-Z , where specific values such as A,S,M,D decide the processing logic within the program. In this case A=Add,S=Subtract,M=Multiply and D=Divide.

In the following two examples, the time taken to perform validity and go to the appropriate label is fixed, irrespective of the number of different valid one byte input characters.

Example using a table of branch instructionsEdit

             SR    R15,R15             Clear index register to zero  (32 bits)
             IC    R15,INPUT           Insert input byte into low order bits of R15 (bits 24-31
*                                       - forming X'000000C1' for "A")
             IC    R15,TABLE2(R15)     Use R15 as Index to extract a 0,4,8,12 or 16 from 
*                                       the 2nd Table
             B     TABLE1(R15)         Branch using the index now in R15
TABLE1       EQU   *                ---Start of Branch table--- (each branch instruction
*                                       is 4 bytes long and unconditional)
             B     ERROR               00 = Invalid input value         (that is, any byte 
*                                                                        not = A,S,M or D)
             B     ADD                 04 = Input value was "A"
             B     SUBTRACT            08 = Input value was "S"
             B     MULTIPLY            12 = Input value was "M"
             B     DIVIDE              16 = Input value was "D"
*                                   ---End of Branch table
ERROR        EQU   *
* print or display error message or similar
ADD          EQU   *
* perform addition and continue with rest of program
             B    NEXT
SUBTRACT     EQU   * 
* etc. 
INPUT        DS   C                     The input character is in this byte.
TABLE2       DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)    X'00'-X'10'
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)    ...
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,04,00,00,16,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,12,00,00)
*                        x'C0' - X'CF' (04 is at offset X'c1')
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,08,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)    x'D0' - X'DF' 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)
* the above table can be automated if the Assembler is allowed to calculate & place the
* index values but it is not shown here for simplicity. If validation is not required, the
* size of this translate table need only be the size of the range of all possible input
* values - in this case A through to M (18 bytes).

Example using a table of 2-byte offsetsEdit

Another very similar technique to the above branch table can be used. Instead of a table of branch instructions, a table of absolute or relative addresses (offsets) can be built by the Assembler. This requires just one extra instruction but increases the branch range to 64K without need for additional base register coverage and halves the size of the Table.

             SR    R15,R15             Clear index register to zero  (32 bits)
             IC    R15,INPUT           Insert input byte into low order bits of R15 
*                                      (bits 24-31 - forming X'000000C1' for "A")
             IC    R15,TABLE2(R15)     Use R15 as Index to extract a 0,2,4,6 or 8 from
*                                      the 2nd Table
             LH    R15,TABLE1(R15)   extract two byte offset into low order bits of R15
             B     TABLE1(R15)         Branch using the table address plus offset now in R15
TABLE1       DS    0H                ---Start of Offset table--- (each is 2 bytes long) 
             DC    Al2(ERROR-TABLE1)               00 = Invalid input value         
             DC    AL2(ADD-TABLE1)                 02 = Input value was "A"
             DC    AL2(SUBTRACT-TABLE1)            04 = Input value was "S"
             DC    AL2(MULTIPLY-TABLE1)            06 = Input value was "M"
             DC    AL2(DIVIDE-TABLE1)              08 = Input value was "D"
*                                   ---End of Branch table
ERROR        EQU   *
* print or display error message or similar
ADD          EQU   *
* perform addition and continue with rest of program
             B    NEXT
SUBTRACT     EQU   * 
* etc. 
INPUT        DS   C                    The input character is in this byte.
TABLE2       DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)    X'00'-X'10'
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)    ... 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,02,00,00,08,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,06,00,00)
*                  x'C0' - X'CF' (02 is at offset X'c1')
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,04,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)    x'D0' - X'DF' 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)
* An alternative approach here is to have the two-byte branch offsets within TABLE2 
* (it then also uses one less instruction and eliminates the need for TABLE1 but this
* may require twice the size of TABLE2 (depending upon the need for validation, and also on
* the range of the input character).

An alternative method of defining TABLE2 above, letting the Assembler automate the placement of the index bytes, is as follows (example shown for "A" and "D" only for brevity).

TABLE2       DC    256AL1(0)                         define 256 bytes of nulls
             ORG   TABLE2+C'A'                       repeat these two lines for each
*                                             valid input character
             DC    AL1(02)                     (The 'ORG' Assembler statement above
*                                              resets to correct position)
             ORG   TABLE2+C'D'                          
             DC    AL1(08)
             ORG   *                                 At end, reset to earlier position after
*                                                    end of 256 byte table

Example using a table of 4-byte absolute addressesEdit

A table of absolute addresses can be built by the Assembler. This requires just one extra instruction but increases the branch range to 2 gigabytes (i.e. the whole address space for 31 bit processors).

             SR    R15,R15             Clear index register to zero  (32 bits)
             IC    R15,INPUT           Insert input byte into low order bits of R15 
*                                      (bits 24-31 - forming X'000000C1' for EBCDIC "A")
             IC    R15,TABLE2(R15)     Use R15 as Index to extract a 0,4,8,12 or 16
*                                      from the 2nd Table
             ICM   R15,15,TABLE1(R15)  extract absolute address into all 32 bits of R15
             BR    R15                 Branch using the address in R15
TABLE1       DS    0H                ---Start of Offset table--- (each is 2 bytes long) 
             DC    A(ERROR)                        00 = Invalid input value         
             DC    A(ADD)                          04 = Input value was "A"
             DC    A(SUBTRACT)                     08 = Input value was "S"
             DC    A(MULTIPLY)                     12 = Input value was "M"
             DC    A(DIVIDE)                       16 = Input value was "D"
*                                   ---End of Branch table
ERROR        EQU   *                               Label for Errors - could be in different 
*                                                  CSECT (R15=Entry point address)
* print or display error message or similar
ADD          EQU   *                               Label for 'Add'  - could be in different CSECT
* perform addition and continue with rest of program
             B    NEXT
SUBTRACT     EQU   *                               Label for 'Subtract' - could be in different
*                                                  CSECT etc. 
INPUT        DS   C                    The input character is in this byte.
TABLE2       DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)    X'00'-X'10'
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)    ... 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,04,00,00,16,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,12,00,00)
*                      x'C0' - X'CF' (04 is at offset X'c1')
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,08,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)    x'D0' - X'DF' 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00) 
             DC   Al1(00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00)00,00,00,00,00,00)

370 and zSystem InstructionsEdit

The following branch instructions are available in the 370 and zSeries machines


--To be added later--


360 Assembly Instructions
BranchData TransferControl FlowArithmeticLogicShift and RotateOther

See alsoEdit

  • [1] Wikipedia Index (information technology)

External linksEdit

  • [2] System/360 Instruction Timing Information
360 Assembly Language
360 Family Introduction · Basic FAQ · 360 Family · 360 Architecture · Comments
360 Instruction Set 360 Instructions · Branch Instructions · Data Transfer Instructions · Control Flow Instructions · Arithmetic Instructions · Logic Instructions · Shift and Rotate Instructions · Other Instructions
Syntaxes and Assemblers 360 Assemblers· Pseudo Instructions
Instruction Extensions Floating Point · High-Level Languages