Hello world

As a first task, we analyse a small Hello world program, written in C. We generate assembly code from the C code, and use the generated assembly code as a way to understand more about the underlying hardware. Our goal is to understand the instruction set for the chosen processor.

  • Intel-x86
  • ARM

The program and its instructions

The C-program that we will use is shown in Figure 5.

/* A simple C program */ 

/* include stdio for printout purposes */ 
#include <stdio.h>

/* main function */ 
int main(void)
    printf("Hello from a C program\n");
    return 0; 

Figure 5. A C-program for printing the string "Hello from a C program".

This the Intel-x86 view - other views are ARM

The program in Figure 5 is supposed to be stored in a text file, named hello_c.c.

Using a C-compiler, instructions for the processor residing inside the computer can be generated. The compiler generates instructions for the particular processor used. In this book we will use a computer with a 32-bit Intel x86 processor.

We will use the gcc compiler.

The following command can be used to compile the code in Figure 5:

gcc -m32 -c hello_c.c

The result of the compilation is an object file. We can inspect the format of this file by giving the command file hello_c.o. The result of giving this command is that a message informing about the type of the file is printed. The message starts with

hello_c.o: ELF 32-bit LSB relocatable, Intel 80386, version 1 

which shows that the file is of type ELF.

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More about Instructions

Here we need references to good books and also to the official manuals.

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Here we need to mention also the processor modes! Since different modes exhibit different sets of registers to the programmer (or to the compiler)

These are the registers:

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Memory Access

Here we will describe how memory is accessed, using different types of instructions.

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Hello world deciphered

Now we can digest the hello world assembly code.

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