How Debuggers Work: Getting and Setting x86 Registers, Part 2: XSAVE

In the previous part of this article, I have described the basic methods of getting and setting the baseline registers of 32-bit and 64-bit x86 CPUs. I have covered General Purpose Registers, baseline Floating-Point Registers and Debug Registers along with their ptrace(2) interface.

In the second part, I would like to discuss the XSAVE family of instructions. I will describe the different variants of this instruction as well as explain the differences between them and their limitations. Afterwards, I will compare the ptrace(2) API used to access its data on Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD. Other systems such as OpenBSD or DragonFly BSD do not provide requests to retrieve or set extended registers, so the comparison may help them design their own APIs.

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