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Parrot Calling Conventions




    Maintainer: Dan Sugalski
    Class: Internals
    PDD Number: 03
    Version: 1.1
    Status: Developing
    Last Modified: 16 September 2002
    PDD Format: 1
    Language: English


Version 1.1

16 September 2002

version 1

None. First version


Version 1.1

We now call with a frame, rather than pushing on the stack, and we return frames, rather than returning a stack. We also pass in context information for the return.

Version 1.0

None. First version


This PDD describes Parrot's inter-routine calling conventions.


Responsibility for environment preservation

The caller is responsible for preserving any environment it is interested in keeping. This includes any and all registers, lexical scoping and scratchpads, opcode libraries, and so forth.

Use of the saveall opcode is recommended if the caller wishes to save everything, and the restoreall opcode to restore everything saveall saved.

Calling conventions

The following registers are used in calling all subs and methods


Holds the object representing the subroutine.


Holds the continuation for the caller, assuming this sub was called with callcc. Otherwise NULL.


Holds the object the sub was called on. (For method calls)


True if the sub is being called with prototyped parameters.


The number of items pushed onto the stack.


The number of parameters in PMC registers.


The return type expected. This is the identifier number for the class. A return type of 0 is void context, -1 is unknown, and -2 and down are the number of expected return variables, negated, minus one. (So -2 means we expect 1 variable, -3 means we expect 2, -4 means we expect 3, and so forth)

The following registers, with the exception of P registers, are used only when calling a subroutine for which there is a compile-time prototype. The first 27 PMC parameters may be passed in registers P5 through P31.

I5 through I31

The first 26 integer parameters.

S5 through S31

The first 27 string parameters.

N5 through N31

The first 27 numeric parameters.

P5 through P31

The first 27 PMC parameters.

All overflow parameters are pushed on the stack in reverse order--that is the topmost entry on the stack is the first entry in the parameter list, and the bottom entry the last entry in the parameter list.

The PMC for a hash, array, or list is passed if one of the entries in the parameter list is a hash, array, or list. The aggregate is not flattened. (Though when accessing the parameters it may be)

Parameters are passed in S, I, and N registers only if the sub's prototype specifically indicates it takes parameters of that type.

Note that it doesn't matter what the order of the integer, string, numeric, and PMC parameters are in the parameter list up until overflow occurs.

Return conventions

On return from a function, the following registers are set. Return values are placed in registers only if the function is prototyped to do so. All values on the stack are in reverse order, such that the top value on the stack is the first value returned.


Holds the number of return values on the stack.


Holds the number of return values in integer registers.


Holds the number of return values in string registers.


Holds the number of return values in PMC registers.


Holds the number of return valies in numeric registers.


PMC return values


Integer return values


String return values


Numeric return values


Overflow values, or values for functions that don't have a return prototype.


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