CPU registers and flags

Registers

16-bitHiLoName/Function
AFA-Accumulator & Flags
BCBCBC
DEDEDE
HLHLHL
SP--Stack Pointer
PC--Program Counter/Pointer

As shown above, most registers can be accessed either as one 16-bit register, or as two separate 8-bit registers.

The Flags Register (lower 8 bits of AF register)

BitNameExplanation
7zZero flag
6nSubtraction flag (BCD)
5hHalf Carry flag (BCD)
4cCarry flag

Contains information about the result of the most recent instruction that has affected flags.

The Zero Flag (Z)

This bit is set if and only if the result of an operation is zero. Used by conditional jumps.

The Carry Flag (C, or Cy)

Is set in these cases:

  • When the result of a 8-bit addition is higher than $FF.
  • When the result of a 16-bit addition is higher than $FFFF.
  • When the result of a subtraction or comparison is lower than zero (like in Z80 and 80x86 CPUs, but unlike in 65XX and ARM CPUs).
  • When a rotate/shift operation shifts out a “1” bit.

Used by conditional jumps and instructions such as ADC, SBC, RL, RLA, etc.

The BCD Flags (N, H)

These flags are used by the DAA instruction only. N indicates whether the previous instruction has been a subtraction, and H indicates carry for the lower 4 bits of the result. DAA also uses the C flag, which must indicate carry for the upper 4 bits. After adding/subtracting two BCD numbers, DAA is used to convert the result to BCD format. BCD numbers range from $00 to $99 rather than $00 to $FF. Because only two flags (C and H) exist to indicate carry-outs of BCD digits, DAA is ineffective for 16-bit operations (which have 4 digits), and use for INC/DEC operations (which do not affect C-flag) has limits.