x86-64 ISA

x86-64 calling conventions

passing arguments and return value:

Up to six integer or pointer arguments **are passed by registers **in the order:

rdi rsi rdx rcx r8 r9

rax is used to return up to 64-bit values. And rdx can be used to return up to 128-bit values.

More or larger arguments and return values are passed through the stack.

Code examples

C code file mstore.c:

long mult2(long);

void multstore(long x, long y, long *dest)
    long t = mult2(x);
    *dest = t;

Command line:

linux> gcc -Og -S mstore.c

The assembly-code:

	pushq	%rbx	
	movq	%rdx, %rbx
	call	mult2@PLT
	movq	%rax, (%rbx)
	popq	%rbx

This function has three register sized arguments, so the caller will put them in the first three registers:

  • x in rdi
  • y in rsi
  • dest in rdx

So the first instruction is pushing the rbx register to the program stack before it gets overwritten. This is because: rbx is a **callee saved register ** which means a function that overwrites it needs to save it before modification and restore it before returning.

The second instruction moves the data from rdx to rbx. This is copying the pointer into rbx before making the procedure call. Because rdx is caller saved, the compiler decides to move dest to a register rather than save it on the stack.

The x and y variables are still in rdi and rsi so the arguments to mult2 are already in the right places when the mult2 function is called.

When mult2 returns the return value is an rax, so the next line of C code corresponds to exactly one line of assembly which is to move the 64-bit return value from rax to the memory location addressed by the value in rbx, that is copying it into dest.