IntelSoftwareDevelopersManual

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Unformatted text preview: ings of protection. The center (reserved for the most privileged code, data, and stacks) is used for the segments containing the critical software, usually the kernel of an operating system. Outer rings are used for less critical software. (Systems that use only 2 of the 4 possible privilege levels should use levels 0 and 3.) Protection Rings Operating System Kernel Operating System Services Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Applications Level 3 Figure 4-2. Protection Rings The processor uses privilege levels to prevent a program or task operating at a lesser privilege level from accessing a segment with a greater privilege, except under controlled situations. When the processor detects a privilege level violation, it generates a general-protection exception (#GP). To carry out privilege-level checks between code segments and data segments, the processor recognizes the following three types of privilege levels: • Current privilege level (CPL). The CPL is the privilege level of the currently executing program or task. It is stored in bits 0 and 1 of the CS and SS segment registers. Normally, the CPL is equal to the privilege level of the code segment from which instructions are being fetched. The processor changes the CPL when program control is transferred to a code segment with a different privilege level. The CPL is treated slightly differently when accessing conforming code segments. Conforming code segments can be accessed from any privilege level that is equal to or numerically greater (less privileged) than the DPL of the conforming code segment. Also, the CPL is not changed when the processor accesses a conforming code segment that has a different privilege level than the CPL. Descriptor privilege level (DPL). The DPL is the privilege level of a segment or gate. It is stored in the DPL field of the segment or gate descriptor for the segment or gate. When the currently executing code segment attempts to access a segment or gate, the DPL of the • 4-8 PROTECTION segment or gate is compared to the CPL and RPL of the segment or gate selector (as described later in this section). The DPL is interpreted differently, depending on the type of segment or gate being accessed: — Data segment. The DPL indicates the numerically highest privilege level that a program or task can have to be allowed to access the segment. For example, if the DPL of a data segment is 1, only programs running at a CPL of 0 or 1 can access the segment. — Nonconforming code segment (without using a call gate). The DPL indicates the privilege level that a program or task must be at to access the segment. For example, if the DPL of a nonconforming code segment is 0, only programs running at a CPL of 0 can access the segment. — Call gate. The DPL indicates the numerically highest privilege level that the currently executing program or task can be at and still be able to access the call gate. (This is the same access rule as for a data segment.) — Conforming code segment and nonconforming code segment accessed through a call gate. The DPL indicates the numerically lowest privilege level that a program or task can have to be allowed to access the segment. For example, if the DPL of a conforming code segment is 2, programs running at a CPL of 0 or 1 cannot access the segment. — TSS. The DPL indicates the numerically highest privilege level that the currently executing program or task can be at and still be able to access the TSS. (This is the same access rule as for a data segment.) • Requested privilege level (RPL). The RPL is an override privilege level that is assigned to segment selectors. It is stored in bits 0 and 1 of the segment selector. The processor checks the RPL along with the CPL to determine if access to a segment is allowed. Even if the program or task requesting access to a segment has sufficient privilege to access the segment, access is denied if the RPL is not of sufficient privilege level. That is, if the RPL of a segment selector is numerically greater than the CPL, the RPL overrides the CPL, and vice versa. The RPL can be used to insure that privileged code does not access a segment on behalf of an application program unless the program itself has access privileges for that segment. Refer to Section 4.10.4., “Checking Caller Access Privileges (ARPL Instruction)” for a detailed description of the purpose and typical use of the RPL. Privilege levels are checked when the segment selector of a segment descriptor is loaded into a segment register. The checks used for data access differ from those used for transfers of program control among code segments; therefore, the two kinds of accesses are considered separately in the following sections. 4.6. PRIVILEGE LEVEL CHECKING WHEN ACCESSING DATA SEGMENTS To access operands in a data segment, the segment selector for the data segment must be loaded into the data-segment registers (DS, ES, FS, or GS) or into the stack-segment register (SS). 4-9 PROTECTION (Segment registers can be loaded with the MOV, POP, LDS, LES, LFS, LGS, and LSS instructions.) Before t...
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This note was uploaded on 06/07/2013 for the course ECE 1234 taught by Professor Kwhon during the Spring '10 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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