Following the answer about assembly registers' sizes:
First, what sizes are
ah and their counterparts, in the 64-bit architecture? How to access a single register's byte and how to access all the 64-bit register's eight bytes?
I'd love attention for both x86-64 (x64) and Itanium processors.
Second, what is the correct way to use the four registers for holding the first four parameters in function calls in the new calling convention?
With the old names all registers remain the same size, just like when x86-16 was extended to x86-32. To access 64-bit integer registers you use the new names with R-prefix such as rax, rbx...
Register names don't change so you just use the byte registers (al, bl, cl, dl, ah, bh, ch, dh) for the LSB and MSB of ax, bx, cx, dx like before. (How do AX, AH, AL map onto EAX?)
There are also 8 new registers called r8-r15. You can access their LSBs by adding the suffix
l if you're using AMD). For example r8b, r9b, r10l, r11l... You can also use the LSB of esi, edi, esp, ebp by the names sil, dil, spl, bpl with the new REX prefix, but you cannot use it at the same time with ah, bh, ch or dh.
Likewise the new registers' lowest word or double word can be accessed through the suffix
d. Writing a 32-bit register zero-extends into the full 64-bit register, unlike writing low-8, high-8, or low-16 partial registers where the 8086 / 386 semantics still apply.
So the list of general-purpose registers is like this:
|Lower 32 bits
|Lower 16 bits
|Lower 8 bits
|r16 (with APX)
|r17 (with APX)
|r31 (with APX)
Of course there are also other types of registers like control, debug, flag, floating-point, vector, segment, test... registers. For more details check https://wiki.osdev.org/CPU_Registers_x86. See also What are the names of the new X86_64 processors registers?
Regarding the calling convention, on each specific system there's only one convention1. Follow the links for details on which integer and vector registers are call-clobbered vs. call-preserved, and additional details like 16-byte alignment of RSP before a
call, and quirks for variadic functions.
1Since MSVC 2013 there's also a new extended convention on Windows called
__vectorcall so the "single convention policy" is not true anymore.
There's also a convention used in Plan 9 where
- All registers are caller-saved
- All parameters are passed on the stack
- Return values are also returned on the stack, in space reserved below (stack-wise; higher addresses on amd64) the arguments.
Golang follows the Plan 9 calling convention, but since go 1.17+ they're gradually introducing a register-based calling convention for better performance. The calling convention can change in the future, and the compiler can generate stubs to automatically call assembly functions in older conventions. At the moment the ABI specifies that
In fact Plan 9 was always a weirdo. For example it forces a register to be 0 on RISC architectures without a hardware zero register. x86 register names on it are also consistent across 16, 32 and 64-bit x86 architectures with operand size indicated by mnemonic suffix. That means ax can be a 16, 32 or 64-bit register depending on the instruction suffix. If you're curious about it read
OTOH Itanium is a completely different architecture and has no relation to x86-64 whatsoever. It's a pure 64-bit architecture so all normal registers are 64-bit, no 32-bit or smaller version is available. There are a lot of registers in it:
- 128 general-purpose integer registers r0 through r127, each carrying 64 value bits and a trap bit. We'll learn more about the trap bit later.
- 128 floating point registers f0 through f127.
- 64 predicate registers p0 through p63.
- 8 branch registers b0 through b7.
- An instruction pointer, which the Windows debugging engine for some reason calls iip. (The extra "i" is for "insane"?)
- 128 special-purpose registers, not all of which have been given meanings. These are called "application registers" (ar) for some reason. I will cover selected register as they arise during the discussion.
- Other miscellaneous registers we will not cover in this series.
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