Object Finders


Object finders are an important part of the glue MAME provides to tie the devices that make up an emulated system together. Object finders are used to specify connections between devices, to efficiently access resources, and to check that necessary resources are available on validation.

Object finders search for a target object by tag relative to a base device. Some types of object finder require additional parameters.

Most object finders have required and optional versions. The required versions will raise an error if the target object is not found. This will prevent a device from starting or cause a validation error. The optional versions will log a verbose message if the target object is not found, and provide additional members for testing whether the target object was found or not.

Object finder classes are declared in the header src/emu/devfind.h and have Doxygen format API documentation.

Types of object finder

required_device<DeviceClass>, optional_device<DeviceClass>

Finds a device. The template argument DeviceClass should be a class derived from device_t or device_interface.

required_memory_region, optional_memory_region

Finds a memory region, usually from ROM definitions. The target is the memory_region object.

required_memory_bank, optional_memory_bank

Finds a memory bank instantiated in an address map. The target is the memory_bank object.


Finds a memory bank instantiated in an address map, or creates it if it doesn’t exist. The target is the memory_bank object. There is no optional version, because the target object will always be found or created.

required_ioport, optional_ioport

Finds an I/O port from a device’s input port definitions. The target is the ioport_port object.

required_address_space, optional_address_space

Finds a device’s address space. The target is the address_space object.

required_region_ptr<PointerType>, optional_region_ptr<PointerType>

Finds the base pointer of a memory region, usually from ROM definitions. The template argument PointerType is the target type (usually an unsigned integer type). The target is the first element in the memory region.

required_shared_ptr<PointerType>, optional_shared_ptr<PointerType>

Finds the base pointer of a memory share instantiated in an address map. The template argument PointerType is the target type (usually an unsigned integer type). The target is the first element in the memory share.


Finds the base pointer of a memory share instantiated in an address map, or creates it if it doesn’t exist. The template argument PointerType is the target type (usually an unsigned integer type). The target is the first element in the memory share. There is no optional version, because the target object will always be found or created.

Finding resources

We’ll start with a simple example of a device that uses object finders to access its own child devices, inputs and ROM region. The code samples here are based on the Apple II Parallel Printer Interface card, but a lot of things have been removed for clarity.

Object finders are declared as members of the device class:

class a2bus_parprn_device : public device_t, public device_a2bus_card_interface
    a2bus_parprn_device(machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock);

    virtual void write_c0nx(u8 offset, u8 data) override;
    virtual u8 read_cnxx(u8 offset) override;

    virtual tiny_rom_entry const *device_rom_region() const override;
    virtual void device_add_mconfig(machine_config &config) override;
    virtual ioport_constructor device_input_ports() const override;

    required_device<centronics_device>      m_printer_conn;
    required_device<output_latch_device>    m_printer_out;
    required_ioport                         m_input_config;
    required_region_ptr<u8>                 m_prom;

We want to find a centronics_device, an output_latch_device, an I/O port, and an 8-bit memory region.

In the constructor, we set the initial target for the object finders:

a2bus_parprn_device::a2bus_parprn_device(machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock) :
    device_t(mconfig, A2BUS_PARPRN, tag, owner, clock),
    device_a2bus_card_interface(mconfig, *this),
    m_printer_conn(*this, "prn"),
    m_printer_out(*this, "prn_out"),
    m_input_config(*this, "CFG"),
    m_prom(*this, "prom")

Each object finder takes a base device and tag as constructor arguments. The base device supplied at construction serves two purposes. Most obviously, the tag is specified relative to this device. Possibly more importantly, the object finder registers itself with this device so that it will be called to perform validation and object resolution.

Note that the object finders do not copy the tag strings. The caller must ensure the tag string remains valid until after validation and/or object resolution is complete.

The memory region and I/O port come from the ROM definition and input definition, respectively:

namespace {

    ROM_REGION(0x100, "prom", 0)
    ROM_LOAD( "prom.b4", 0x0000, 0x0100, BAD_DUMP CRC(00b742ca) SHA1(c67888354aa013f9cb882eeeed924e292734e717) )

    PORT_CONFNAME(0x01, 0x00, "Acknowledge latching edge")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x00, "Falling (/Y-B)")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x01, "Rising (Y-B)")
    PORT_CONFNAME(0x06, 0x02, "Printer ready")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x00, "Always (S5-C-D)")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x02, "Acknowledge latch (Z-C-D)")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x04, "ACK (Y-C-D)")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x06, "/ACK (/Y-C-D)")
    PORT_CONFNAME(0x08, 0x00, "Strobe polarity")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x00, "Negative (S5-A-/X, GND-X)")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x08, "Positive (S5-X, GND-A-/X)")
    PORT_CONFNAME(0x10, 0x10, "Character width")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x00, "7-bit")
    PORT_CONFSETTING(   0x10, "8-bit")

} // anonymous namespace

tiny_rom_entry const *a2bus_parprn_device::device_rom_region() const
    return ROM_NAME(parprn);

ioport_constructor a2bus_parprn_device::device_input_ports() const
    return INPUT_PORTS_NAME(parprn);

Note that the tags "prom" and "CFG" match the tags passed to the object finders on construction.

Child devices are instantiated in the device’s machine configuration member function:

void a2bus_parprn_device::device_add_mconfig(machine_config &config)
    CENTRONICS(config, m_printer_conn, centronics_devices, "printer");

    OUTPUT_LATCH(config, m_printer_out);

Object finders are passed to device types to provide tags when instantiating child devices. After instantiating a child device in this way, the object finder can be used like a pointer to the device until the end of the machine configuration member function. Note that to use an object finder like this, its base device must be the same as the device being configured (the this pointer of the machine configuration member function).

After the emulated machine has been started, the object finders can be used in much the same way as pointers:

void a2bus_parprn_device::write_c0nx(u8 offset, u8 data)
    ioport_value const cfg(m_input_config->read());

    m_printer_out->write(data & (BIT(cfg, 8) ? 0xffU : 0x7fU));
    m_printer_conn->write_strobe(BIT(~cfg, 3));

u8 a2bus_parprn_device::read_cnxx(u8 offset)
    offset ^= 0x40U;
    return m_prom[offset];

For convenience, object finders that target the base pointer of memory regions and shares can be indexed like arrays.

Connections between devices

Devices need to be connected together within a system. For example the Sun SBus device needs access to the host CPU and address space. Here’s how we declare the object finders in the device class (with all distractions removed):


class sbus_device : public device_t, public device_memory_interface
    template <typename T, typename U>
            machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock,
            T &&cpu_tag,
            U &&space_tag, int space_num) :
        sbus_device(mconfig, tag, owner, clock)
        set_type1space(std::forward<U>(space_tag), space_num);

    sbus_device(machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock) :
        device_t(mconfig, type, tag, owner, clock),
        device_memory_interface(mconfig, *this),
        m_maincpu(*this, finder_base::DUMMY_TAG),
        m_type1space(*this, finder_base::DUMMY_TAG, -1)

    template <typename T> void set_cpu(T &&tag) { m_maincpu.set_tag(std::forward<T>(tag)); }
    template <typename T> void set_type1space(T &&tag, int num) { m_type1space.set_tag(std::forward<T>(tag), num); }

    required_device<sparc_base_device> m_maincpu;
    required_address_space m_type1space;

There are several things to take note of here:

  • Object finder members are declared for the things the device needs to access.

  • The device doesn’t know how it will fit into a larger system, the object finders are constructed with dummy arguments.

  • Configuration member functions are provided to set the tag for the host CPU, and the tag and index for the type 1 address space.

  • In addition to the standard device constructor, a constructor with additional parameters for setting the CPU and type 1 address space is provided.

The constant finder_base::DUMMY_TAG is guaranteed to be invalid and will not resolve to an object. This makes it easy to detect incomplete configuration and report an error. Address spaces are numbered from zero, so a negative address space number is invalid.

The member functions for configuring object finders take a universal reference to a tag-like object (templated type with && qualifier), as well as any other parameters needed by the specific type of object finder. An address space finder needs an address space number in addition to a tag-like object.

So what’s a tag-like object? Three things are supported:

  • A C string pointer (char const *) representing a tag relative to the device being configured. Note that the object finder will not copy the string. The caller must ensure it remains valid until resolution and/or validation is complete.

  • Another object finder. The object finder will take on its current target.

  • For device finders, a reference to an instance of the target device type, setting the target to that device. Note that this will not work if the device is subsequently replaced in the machine configuration. It’s most often used with *this.

The additional constructor that sets initial configuration delegates to the standard constructor and then calls the configuration member functions. It’s purely for convenience.

When we want to instantiate this device and hook it up, we do this:

SPARCV7(config, m_maincpu, 20'000'000);

ADDRESS_MAP_BANK(config, m_type1space);

SBUS(config, m_sbus, 20'000'000);
m_sbus->set_type1space(m_type1space, 0);

We supply the same object finders to instantiate the CPU and address space devices, and to configure the SBus device.

Note that we could also use literal C strings to configure the SBus device, at the cost of needing to update the tags in multiple places if they change:

SBUS(config, m_sbus, 20'000'000);
m_sbus->set_type1space("type1", 0);

If we want to use the convenience constructor, we just supply additional arguments when instantiating the device:

SBUS(config, m_sbus, 20'000'000, m_maincpu, m_type1space, 0);

Object finder arrays

Many systems have multiple similar devices, I/O ports or other resources that can be logically organised as an array. To simplify these use cases, object finder array types are provided. The object finder array type names have _array added to them:

































A common case for an object array finder is a key matrix:

class keyboard_base : public device_t, public device_mac_keyboard_interface
    keyboard_base(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock) :
        device_t(mconfig, type, tag, owner, clock),
        device_mac_keyboard_interface(mconfig, *this),
        m_rows(*this, "ROW%u", 0U)

    u8 bus_r()
        u8 result(0xffU);
        for (unsigned i = 0U; m_rows.size() > i; ++i)
            if (!BIT(m_row_drive, i))
                result &= m_rows[i]->read();
        return result;

    required_ioport_array<10> m_rows;

Constructing an object finder array is similar to constructing an object finder, except that rather than just a tag you supply a tag format string and index offset. In this case, the tags of the I/O ports in the array will be ROW0, ROW1, ROW2, … ROW9. Note that the object finder array allocates dynamic storage for the tags, which remain valid until destruction.

The object finder array is used in much the same way as a std::array of the underlying object finder type. It supports indexing, iterators, and range-based for loops.

Because an index offset is specified, the tags don’t need to use zero-based indices. It’s common to use one-based indexing like this:

class dooyong_state : public driver_device
    dooyong_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_bg(*this, "bg%u", 1U),
        m_fg(*this, "fg%u", 1U)

    optional_device_array<dooyong_rom_tilemap_device, 2> m_bg;
    optional_device_array<dooyong_rom_tilemap_device, 2> m_fg;

This causes m_bg to find devices with tags bg1 and bg2, while m_fg finds devices with tags fg1 and fg2. Note that the indexes into the object finder arrays are still zero-based like any other C array.

It’s also possible to other format conversions, like hexadecimal (%x and %X) or character (%c):

class eurit_state : public driver_device
    eurit_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_keys(*this, "KEY%c", 'A')

    required_ioport_array<5> m_keys;

In this case, the key matrix ports use tags KEYA, KEYB, KEYC, KEYD and KEYE.

When the tags don’t follow a simple ascending sequence, you can supply a brace-enclosed initialiser list of tags:

class seabattl_state : public driver_device
    seabattl_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_digits(*this, { "sc_thousand", "sc_hundred", "sc_half", "sc_unity", "tm_half", "tm_unity" })

    required_device_array<dm9368_device, 6> m_digits;

If the underlying object finders require additional constructor arguments, supply them after the tag format and index offset (the same values will be used for all elements of the array):

class dreamwld_state : public driver_device
    dreamwld_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_vram(*this, "vram_%u", 0U, 0x2000U, ENDIANNESS_BIG)

    memory_share_array_creator<u16, 2> m_vram;

This finds or creates memory shares with tags vram_0 and vram_1, each of of which is 8 KiB organised as 4,096 big-Endian 16-bit words.

Optional object finders

Optional object finders don’t raise an error if the target object isn’t found. This is useful in two situations: driver_device implementations (state classes) representing a family of systems where some components aren’t present in all configurations, and devices that can optionally use a resource. Optional object finders provide additional member functions for testing whether the target object was found.

Optional system components

Often a class is used to represent a family of related systems. If a component isn’t present in all configurations, it may be convenient to use an optional object finder to access it. We’ll use the Sega X-board device as an example:

class segaxbd_state : public device_t
    segaxbd_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock) :
        device_t(mconfig, type, tag, owner, clock),
        m_soundcpu(*this, "soundcpu"),
        m_soundcpu2(*this, "soundcpu2"),
        m_segaic16vid(*this, "segaic16vid"),
        m_adc_ports(*this, "ADC%u", 0),
        m_mux_ports(*this, "MUX%u", 0)

    optional_device<z80_device> m_soundcpu;
    optional_device<z80_device> m_soundcpu2;
    required_device<mb3773_device> m_watchdog;
    required_device<segaic16_video_device> m_segaic16vid;
    bool m_adc_reverse[8];
    u8 m_pc_0;
    u8 m_lastsurv_mux;
    optional_ioport_array<8> m_adc_ports;
    optional_ioport_array<4> m_mux_ports;

The optional_device and optional_ioport_array members are declared and constructed in the usual way. Before accessing the target object, we call an object finder’s found() member function to check whether it’s present in the system (the explicit cast-to-Boolean operator can be used for the same purpose):

void segaxbd_state::pc_0_w(u8 data)
    m_pc_0 = data;

    m_watchdog->write_line_ck(BIT(data, 6));

    m_segaic16vid->set_display_enable(data & 0x20);

    if (m_soundcpu.found())
        m_soundcpu->set_input_line(INPUT_LINE_RESET, (data & 0x01) ? CLEAR_LINE : ASSERT_LINE);
    if (m_soundcpu2.found())
        m_soundcpu2->set_input_line(INPUT_LINE_RESET, (data & 0x01) ? CLEAR_LINE : ASSERT_LINE);

Optional I/O ports provide a convenience member function called read_safe that reads the port value if present, or returns the supplied default value otherwise:

u8 segaxbd_state::analog_r()
    int const which = (m_pc_0 >> 2) & 7;
    u8 value = m_adc_ports[which].read_safe(0x10);

    if (m_adc_reverse[which])
        value = 255 - value;

    return value;

u8 segaxbd_state::lastsurv_port_r()
    return m_mux_ports[m_lastsurv_mux].read_safe(0xff);

The ADC ports return 0x10 (16 decimal) if they are not present, while the multiplexed digital ports return 0xff (255 decimal) if they are not present. Note that read_safe is a member of the optional_ioport itself, and not a member of the target ioport_port object (the optional_ioport is not dereferenced when using it).

There are some disadvantages to using optional object finders:

  • There’s no way to distinguish between the target not being present, and the target not being found due to mismatched tags, making it more error-prone.

  • Checking whether the target is present may use CPU branch prediction resources, potentially hurting performance if it happens very frequently.

Consider whether optional object finders are the best solution, or whether creating a derived class for the system with additional components is more appropriate.

Optional resources

Some devices can optionally use certain resources. If the host system doesn’t supply them, the device will still function, although some functionality may not be available. For example, the Virtual Boy cartridge slot responds to three address spaces, called EXP, CHIP and ROM. If the host system will never use one or more of them, it doesn’t need to supply a place for the cartridge to install the corresponding handlers. (For example a copier may only use the ROM space.)

Let’s look at how this is implemented. The Virtual Boy cartridge slot device declares optional_address_space members for the three address spaces, offs_t members for the base addresses in these spaces, and inline member functions for configuring them:

class vboy_cart_slot_device :
        public device_t,
        public device_image_interface,
        public device_single_card_slot_interface<device_vboy_cart_interface>
    vboy_cart_slot_device(machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock = 0U);

    template <typename T> void set_exp(T &&tag, int no, offs_t base)
        m_exp_space.set_tag(std::forward<T>(tag), no);
        m_exp_base = base;
    template <typename T> void set_chip(T &&tag, int no, offs_t base)
        m_chip_space.set_tag(std::forward<T>(tag), no);
        m_chip_base = base;
    template <typename T> void set_rom(T &&tag, int no, offs_t base)
        m_rom_space.set_tag(std::forward<T>(tag), no);
        m_rom_base = base;

    virtual void device_start() override;

    optional_address_space m_exp_space;
    optional_address_space m_chip_space;
    optional_address_space m_rom_space;
    offs_t m_exp_base;
    offs_t m_chip_base;
    offs_t m_rom_base;

    device_vboy_cart_interface *m_cart;

DECLARE_DEVICE_TYPE(VBOY_CART_SLOT, vboy_cart_slot_device)

The object finders are constructed with dummy values for the tags and space numbers (finder_base::DUMMY_TAG and -1):

vboy_cart_slot_device::vboy_cart_slot_device(machine_config const &mconfig, char const *tag, device_t *owner, u32 clock) :
    device_t(mconfig, VBOY_CART_SLOT, tag, owner, clock),
    device_image_interface(mconfig, *this),
    device_single_card_slot_interface<device_vboy_cart_interface>(mconfig, *this),
    m_exp_space(*this, finder_base::DUMMY_TAG, -1, 32),
    m_chip_space(*this, finder_base::DUMMY_TAG, -1, 32),
    m_rom_space(*this, finder_base::DUMMY_TAG, -1, 32),

To help detect configuration errors, we’ll check for cases where address spaces have been configured but aren’t present:

void vboy_cart_slot_device::device_start()
    if (!m_exp_space && ((m_exp_space.finder_tag() != finder_base::DUMMY_TAG) || (m_exp_space.spacenum() >= 0)))
        throw emu_fatalerror("%s: Address space %d of device %s not found (EXP)\n", tag(), m_exp_space.spacenum(), m_exp_space.finder_tag());

    if (!m_chip_space && ((m_chip_space.finder_tag() != finder_base::DUMMY_TAG) || (m_chip_space.spacenum() >= 0)))
        throw emu_fatalerror("%s: Address space %d of device %s not found (CHIP)\n", tag(), m_chip_space.spacenum(), m_chip_space.finder_tag());

    if (!m_rom_space && ((m_rom_space.finder_tag() != finder_base::DUMMY_TAG) || (m_rom_space.spacenum() >= 0)))
        throw emu_fatalerror("%s: Address space %d of device %s not found (ROM)\n", tag(), m_rom_space.spacenum(), m_rom_space.finder_tag());

    m_cart = get_card_device();

Object finder types in more detail

All object finders provide configuration functionality:

char const *finder_tag() const { return m_tag; }
std::pair<device_t &, char const *> finder_target();
void set_tag(device_t &base, char const *tag);
void set_tag(char const *tag);
void set_tag(finder_base const &finder);

The finder_tag and finder_target member function provides access to the currently configured target. Note that the tag returned by finder tag is relative to the base device. It is not sufficient on its own to identify the target.

The set_tag member functions configure the target of the object finder. These members must not be called after the object finder is resolved. The first form configures the base device and relative tag. The second form sets the relative tag and also implicitly sets the base device to the device that is currently being configured. This form must only be called from machine configuration functions. The third form sets the base object and relative tag to the current target of another object finder.

Note that the set_tag member functions do not copy the relative tag. It is the caller’s responsibility to ensure the C string remains valid until the object finder is resolved (or reconfigured with a different tag). The base device must also be valid at resolution time. This may not be the case if the device could be removed or replaced later.

All object finders provide the same interface for accessing the target object:

ObjectClass *target() const;
operator ObjectClass *() const;
ObjectClass *operator->() const;

These members all provide access to the target object. The target member function and cast-to-pointer operator will return nullptr if the target has not been found. The pointer member access operator asserts that the target has been found.

Optional object finders additionally provide members for testing whether the target object has been found:

bool found() const;
explicit operator bool() const;

These members return true if the target was found, on the assumption that the target pointer will be non-null if the target was found.

Device finders

Device finders require one template argument for the expected device class. This should derive from either device_t or device_interface. The target device object must either be an instance of this class, an instance of a class that derives from it. A warning message is logged if a matching device is found but it is not an instance of the expected class.

Device finders provide an additional set_tag overload:

set_tag(DeviceClass &object);

This is equivalent to calling set_tag(object, DEVICE_SELF). Note that the device object must not be removed or replaced before the object finder is resolved.

Memory system object finders

The memory system object finders, required_memory_region, optional_memory_region, required_memory_bank, optional_memory_bank and memory_bank_creator, do not have any special functionality. They are often used in place of literal tags when installing memory banks in an address space.

Example using memory bank finders in an address map:

class qvt70_state : public driver_device
    qvt70_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_rombank(*this, "rom"),
        m_rambank(*this, "ram%d", 0U),
    { }

    required_memory_bank m_rombank;
    required_memory_bank_array<2> m_rambank;

    void mem_map(address_map &map);

    void rombank_w(u8 data);

void qvt70_state::mem_map(address_map &map)
    map(0x0000, 0x7fff).bankr(m_rombank);
    map(0x8000, 0x8000).w(FUNC(qvt70_state::rombank_w));
    map(0xa000, 0xbfff).ram();
    map(0xc000, 0xdfff).bankrw(m_rambank[0]);
    map(0xe000, 0xffff).bankrw(m_rambank[1]);

Example using a memory bank creator to install a memory bank dynamically:

class vegaeo_state : public eolith_state
    vegaeo_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        eolith_state(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_qs1000_bank(*this, "qs1000_bank")

    void init_vegaeo();

    memory_bank_creator m_qs1000_bank;

void vegaeo_state::init_vegaeo()
    // Set up the QS1000 program ROM banking, taking care not to overlap the internal RAM
    m_qs1000->cpu().space(AS_IO).install_read_bank(0x0100, 0xffff, m_qs1000_bank);
    m_qs1000_bank->configure_entries(0, 8, memregion("qs1000:cpu")->base() + 0x100, 0x10000);


I/O port finders

Optional I/O port finders provide an additional convenience member function:

ioport_value read_safe(ioport_value defval);

This will read the port’s value if the target I/O port was found, or return defval otherwise. It is useful in situations where certain input devices are not always present.

Address space finders

Address space finders accept an additional argument for the address space number to find. A required data width can optionally be supplied to the constructor.

address_space_finder(device_t &base, char const *tag, int spacenum, u8 width = 0);
void set_tag(device_t &base, char const *tag, int spacenum);
void set_tag(char const *tag, int spacenum);
void set_tag(finder_base const &finder, int spacenum);
template <bool R> void set_tag(address_space_finder<R> const &finder);

The base device and tag must identify a device that implements device_memory_interface. The address space number is a zero-based index to one of the device’s address spaces.

If the width is non-zero, it must match the target address space’s data width in bits. If the target address space exists but has a different data width, a warning message will be logged, and it will be treated as not being found. If the width is zero (the default argument value), the target address space’s data width won’t be checked.

Member functions are also provided to get the configured address space number and set the required data width:

int spacenum() const;
void set_data_width(u8 width);

Memory pointer finders

The memory pointer finders, required_region_ptr, optional_region_ptr, required_shared_ptr, optional_shared_ptr and memory_share_creator, all require one template argument for the element type of the memory area. This should usually be an explicitly-sized unsigned integer type (u8, u16, u32 or u64). The size of this type is compared to the width of the memory area. If it doesn’t match, a warning message is logged and the region or share is treated as not being found.

The memory pointer finders provide an array access operator, and members for accessing the size of the memory area:

PointerType &operator[](int index) const;
size_t length() const;
size_t bytes() const;

The array access operator returns a non-const reference to an element of the memory area. The index is in units of the element type; it must be non-negative and less than the length of the memory area. The length member returns the number of elements in the memory area. The bytes member returns the size of the memory area in bytes. These members should not be called if the target region/share has not been found.

The memory_share_creator requires additional constructor arguments for the size and Endianness of the memory share:

memory_share_creator(device_t &base, char const *tag, size_t bytes, endianness_t endianness);

The size is specified in bytes. If an existing memory share is found, it is an error if its size does not match the specified size. If the width is wider than eight bits and an existing memory share is found, it is an error if its Endianness does not match the specified Endianness.

The memory_share_creator provides additional members for accessing properties of the memory share:

endianness_t endianness() const;
u8 bitwidth() const;
u8 bytewidth() const;

These members return the Endianness, width in bits and width in bytes of the memory share, respectively. They must not be called if the memory share has not been found.

Output finders

Output finders are used for exposing outputs that can be used by the artwork system, or by external programs. A common application using an external program is a control panel or cabinet lighting controller.

Output finders are not really object finders, but they’re described here because they’re used in a similar way. There are a number of important differences to be aware of:

  • Output finders always create outputs if they do not exist.

  • Output finders must be manually resolved, they are not automatically resolved.

  • Output finders cannot have their target changed after construction.

  • Output finders are array-like, and support an arbitrary number of dimensions.

  • Output names are global, the base device has no influence. (This will change in the future.)

Output finders take a variable number of template arguments corresponding to the number of array dimensions you want. Let’s look at an example that uses zero-, one- and two-dimensional output finders:

class mmd2_state : public driver_device
    mmd2_state(machine_config const &mconfig, device_type type, char const *tag) :
        driver_device(mconfig, type, tag),
        m_digits(*this, "digit%u", 0U),
        m_p(*this, "p%u_%u", 0U, 0U),
        m_led_halt(*this, "led_halt"),
        m_led_hold(*this, "led_hold")
    { }

    virtual void machine_start() override;

    void round_leds_w(offs_t, u8);
    void digit_w(u8 data);
    void status_callback(u8 data);

    u8 m_digit;

    output_finder<9> m_digits;
    output_finder<3, 8> m_p;
    output_finder<> m_led_halt;
    output_finder<> m_led_hold;

The m_led_halt and m_led_hold members are zero-dimensional output finders. They find a single output each. The m_digits member is a one-dimensional output finder. It finds nine outputs organised as a single-dimensional array. The m_p member is a two-dimensional output finder. It finds 24 outputs organised as three rows of eight columns each. Larger numbers of dimensions are supported.

The output finder constructor takes a base device reference, a format string, and an index offset for each dimension. In this case, all the offsets are zero. The one-dimensional output finder m_digits will find outputs digit0, digit1, digit2, … digit8. The two-dimensional output finder m_p will find the outputs p0_0, p0_1, … p0_7 for the first row, p1_0, p1_1, … p1_7 for the second row, and p2_0, p2_1, … p2_7 for the third row.

You must call resolve on each output finder before it can be used. This should be done at start time for the output values to be included in save states:

void mmd2_state::machine_start()


Output finders provide operators allowing them to be assigned from or cast to 32-bit signed integers. The assignment operator will send a notification if the new value is different to the output’s current value.

operator s32() const;
s32 operator=(s32 value);

To set output values, assign through the output finders, as you would with an array of the same rank:

void mmd2_state::round_leds_w(offs_t offset, u8 data)
    for (u8 i = 0; i < 8; i++)
        m_p[offset][i] = BIT(~data, i);

void mmd2_state::digit_w(u8 data)
    if (m_digit < 9)
        m_digits[m_digit] = data;

void mmd2_state::status_callback(u8 data)
    m_led_halt = (~data & i8080_cpu_device::STATUS_HLTA) ? 1 : 0;
    m_led_hold = (data & i8080_cpu_device::STATUS_WO) ? 1 : 0;