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Exception Implementation in the Mono Runtime
Dietmar Maurer (
(C) 2001 Ximian, Inc.
Exception implementation (jit):
Stack unwinding:
We record the code address (start_address, size) of all methods. That way it is
possible to map an instruction pointer (IP) to the method information needed
for unwinding the stack:
We also save a Last Managed Frame (LMF) structure at each call from managed to
unmanaged code. That way we can recover from exceptions inside unmanaged code.
void handle_exception ((struct sigcontext *ctx, gpointer obj)
if (ctx->bp < mono_end_of_stack) {
/* unhandled exception */
abort ();
info = mono_jit_info_table_find (mono_jit_info_table, ctx->ip);
if (info) { // we are inside managed code
if (ch = find_catch_handler ())
execute_catch_handler (ch, ctx, obj);
execute_all_finally_handler ();
// restore register, including IP and Frame pointer
ctx = restore_caller_saved_registers_from_ctx (ji, ctx);
// continue unwinding
handle_exception (ctx, obj);
} else {
lmf = get_last_managed_frame ();
// restore register, including IP and Frame pointer
ctx = restore_caller_saved_registers_from_lmf (ji, lmf);
// continue unwinding
handle_exception (ctx, obj);
Code generation:
leave: is simply translated into a branch to the target. If the leave
instruction is inside a finally block (but not inside another handler)
we call the finally handler before we branch to the target.
finally/endfinally, filter/endfilter: is translated into subroutine ending with
a "return" statement. The subroutine does not save EBP, because we need access
to the local variables of the enclosing method. Its is possible that
instructions inside those handlers modify the stack pointer, thus we save the
stack pointer at the start of the handler, and restore it at the end. We have
to use a "call" instruction to execute such finally handlers. This makes it
also possible to execute them inside the stack unwinding code. The exception
object for filters is passed in a local variable (cfg->exvar).
throw: we first save all regs into a sigcontext struct and then call the stack
unwinding code.
catch handler: catch hanlders are always called from the stack unwinding
code. The exception object is passed in a local variable (cfg->exvar).
gcc support for Exceptions
gcc supports exceptions in files compiled with the -fexception option. gcc
generates DWARF exceptions tables in that case, so it is possible to unwind the
stack. The method to read those exception tables is contained in libgcc.a, and
in newer versions of glibc (glibc 2.2.5 for example), and it is called
__frame_state_for(). Another usable glibc function is backtrace_symbols() which
returns the function name corresponding to a code address.
We dynamically check if those features are available using g_module_symbol(),
and we use them only when available. If not available we use the LMF as
Using gcc exception information prevents us from saving the LMF at each native
call, so this is a way to speed up native calls. This is especially valuable
for internal calls, because we can make sure that all internal calls are
compiled with -fexceptions (we compile the whole mono runtime with that
All native function are able to call function without exception tables, and so
we are unable to restore all caller saved registers if an exception is raised
in such function. Well, its possible if the previous function already saves all
registers. So we only omit the the LMF if a function has an exception table
able to restore all caller saved registers.
One problem is that gcc almost never saves all caller saved registers, because
it is just unnecessary in normal situations. But there is a trick forcing gcc
to save all register, we just need to call __builtin_unwind_init() at the
beginning of a function. That way gcc generates code to save all caller saved
register on the stack.
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