3.4. Clearing

Clearing bits is the opposite of masking. Instead of wanting to keep certain bits, we want to 0 out specific bits while keeping other ones. For instance, we might want to clear out bits 25-29 from this pattern:


To do so, we could mask by ANDing with this pattern:


Bits 25-29 would become 0 and everything else would remain as is. However, that pattern is too complex to represent as an immediate. Any time we are trying to clear a small number of bits, we will have a similar problem of needing a large mask to AND with.

Instead, we can use the bitwise clear instruction - it uses a pattern to specify which bits to clear (ANDing with a pattern specifies which bits to keep).

BICrd, rn, rm / #

BIt Clear. Take the pattern from rn, clear out the bits that are 1 in either register rm or immediate #, place the results in rd.

To continue the earlier sample, instead of AND with 0xC1FFFFFF (which is illegal) to say “keep bits 31-30 and 24-0”, we can BIC with 0x3E000000 to say “clear bits 29-25”:

LDR   r5, =0x1BADDEED

@Clear bits 25-29
BIC   r6, r5,  #0x3E000000

@Clear bits 16-31 (first two bytes)
BIC   r7, r5,  #0xFF000000   @clear first byte
BIC   r7, r7,  #0x00FF0000   @now clear second
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