Thursday, November 25, 2004

GCC -mpreferred-stack-boundary=num

Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with exploits is the stack alignement so here is little info that may help you:


Attempt to keep the stack boundary aligned to a 2 raised to num byte boundary. If -mpreferred-stack-boundary is not specified, the default is 4 (16 bytes or 128 bits), except when optimizing for code size (-Os), in which case the default is the minimum correct alignment (4 bytes for x86, and 8 bytes for x86-64).

On Pentium and PentiumPro, double and long double values should be aligned to an 8 byte boundary (see -malign-double) or suffer significant run time performance penalties. On Pentium III, the Streaming SIMD Extension (SSE) data type __m128 suffers similar penalties if it is not 16 byte aligned.

To ensure proper alignment of this values on the stack, the stack boundary must be as aligned as that required by any value stored on the stack. Further, every function must be generated such that it keeps the stack aligned. Thus calling a function compiled with a higher preferred stack boundary from a function compiled with a lower preferred stack boundary will most likely misalign the stack. It is recommended that libraries that use callbacks always use the default setting.

This extra alignment does consume extra stack space, and generally increases code size. Code that is sensitive to stack space usage, such as embedded systems and operating system kernels, may want to reduce the preferred alignment to -mpreferred-stack-boundary=2."

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