[lldb-dev] Unwinding call frames with separated data and return address stacks

Thomas Goodfellow via lldb-dev lldb-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Mar 4 02:46:22 PST 2019

I'm adding LLDB support for an unconventional platform which uses two
stacks: one purely for return addresses and another for frame context
(spilled registers, local variables, etc). There is no explicit link
between the two stacks, i.e. the frame context doesn't include any
pointer or index to identify the return address: the epilog for a
subroutine amounts to unwinding the frame context then finally popping
the top return address from the return stack. It has some resemblance
to the Intel CET scheme of shadow stacks, but without the primary
stack having a copy of the return address.

I can extend the emulation of the platform to better support LLDB. For
example while the real hardware platform provides no access to the
return address stack the emulation can expose it in the memory map,
provide an additional debug register for querying it, etc, which DWARF
expressions could then extract return addresses from. However doing
this seems to require knowing the frame number and I haven't found a
way of doing this (a pseudo-register manipulated by DWARF expressions
worked but needed some LLDB hacks to sneak it through the existing
link register handling, also seemed likely to be unstable against LLDB
implementation changes)

Is there a way to access the call frame number (or a reliable proxy)
from a DWARF expression? Or an existing example of unwinding a shadow


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