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Application binary interface

application binary interface, application binary interface (abi)
In computer software, an application binary interface ABI is the interface between two program modules, one of which is often a library or operating system, at the level of machine code An ABI determines such details as how functions are called and in which binary format information should be passed from one program component to the next, or to the operating system in the case of a system call

Adhering to ABIs which may or may not be officially standardized is usually the job of the compiler, OS or library writer, but application programmers may have to deal with ABIs directly when writing programs in a mix of programming languages, using foreign function call interfaces between them

ABIs differ from application programming interfaces APIs, which similarly define interfaces between program components, but at the source code level


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Complete ABIs
  • 3 Embedded ABIs
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


ABIs cover details such as:

  • the sizes, layout, and alignment of data types
  • the calling convention, which controls how functions' arguments are passed and return values retrieved; for example, whether all parameters are passed on the stack or some are passed in registers, which registers are used for which function parameters, and whether the first function parameter passed on the stack is pushed first or last onto the stack
  • how an application should make system calls to the operating system and, if the ABI specifies direct system calls rather than procedure calls to system call stubs, the system call numbers
  • and in the case of a complete operating system ABI, the binary format of object files, program libraries and so on

Complete ABIsedit

A complete ABI, such as the Intel Binary Compatibility Standard iBCS,1 allows a program from one operating system supporting that ABI to run without modifications on any other such system, provided that necessary shared libraries are present, and similar prerequisites are fulfilled

Otherwhich ABIs standardize details such as the C++ name mangling,2 exception propagation,3 and calling convention between compilers on the same platform, but do not require cross-platform compatibility

Embedded ABIsedit

An embedded-application binary interface EABI specifies standard conventions for file formats, data types, register usage, stack frame organization, and function parameter passing of an embedded software program, for use with an embedded operating system

Compilers that support the EABI create object code that is compatible with code generated by other such compilers, allowing developers to link libraries generated with one compiler with object code generated with another compiler Developers writing their ownclarification needed assembly language code may also interface with assembly generated by a compliant compiler

EABIs allow privilegedhow instructions in application code, do not requirewhy dynamic linking sometimes it is completely disallowed, and save memoryhow via a more compact stack frame organization4 The choice of EABI can affect performance56

Widely used EABIs include PowerPC,4 ARM EABI27 and MIPS EABI8

See alsoedit

  • Computing portal
  • Computer programming portal
  • Binary code compatibility
  • Bytecode
  • Comparison of application virtual machines
  • Debugging symbol
  • Foreign function interface
  • Language binding
  • Opaque pointer
  • PowerOpen Environment
  • Symbol table
  • SWIG
  • Visual C++ ABI instability details


  1. ^ Intel Binary Compatibility Standard iBCS
  2. ^ Itanium C++ ABI compatible with multiple architectures
  3. ^ Itanium C++ ABI:Exception Handling compatible with multiple architectures
  4. ^ a b "EABI Summary" PowerPC Embedded Application Binary Interface:32-Bit Implementation PDF Version 10 ed Freescale Semiconductor, Inc 1995-10-01 pp 28–30 
  5. ^ "Debian ARM accelerates via EABI port" Linuxdevicescom 2016-10-16 Archived from the original on 21 January 2007 Retrieved 2007-10-11 
  6. ^ Andrés Calderón and Nelson Castillo 2007-03-14 "Why ARM's EABI matters" Linuxdevicescom Archived from the original on 31 March 2007 Retrieved 2007-10-11 
  7. ^ "ARM Information Center" Infocenterarmcom Retrieved 2014-02-27 
  8. ^ "Eric Christopher - mips eabi documentation" Cygwincom 2003-06-11 Retrieved 2014-02-27 

External linksedit

  • Policies/Binary Compatibility Issues With C++ –a compendium of development rules of thumb for not breaking binary compatibility between library releases
  • OS X ABI Function Call Guide
  • Debian ARM EABI port
  • µClib:Motorola 8/16-bit embedded ABI
  • AMD64 x86-64 Application Binary Interface
  • Application Binary Interface ABI for the ARM Architecture
  • MIPS EABI documentation
  • Sun Studio 10 Compilers and the AMD64 ABI –a summary and comparison of some popular ABIs
  • MCORE Applications Binary Interface Standards Manual for the Freescale M·CORE processors

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Application binary interface

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