4.3.3 Converting pointers

Be mindful when converting physical addresses to pointers on 64-bit architectures. All UEFI driver writers must be aware that pointers may contain values above 4 GB, and that care must be taken never to strip the upper address bits. If the upper address bits are stripped, the driver may work on 32-bit architectures, and on 64-bit architectures with small memory configurations, but may not work on 64-bit platforms with larger memory configurations.

Note: Make sure the driver does not strip the upper address bits when converting pointers.

4.3.3.1 The Exception to the Rule

There is one exception to this rule of casting pointers and it applies to both32-bit and 64-bit processors. The data types INTN and UINTN are the exact same size of pointers on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, which means that a pointer can be cast to or from INTN or UINTN without any adverse side effects. However, ANSI C does not require function pointers to be the same size as data pointers. Also, function pointers and data pointers are not required to be the same size as INTN or UINTN. As a result, this exception does not apply to all processors.

4.3.3.2 Identifying a Pointer Problem

Problems caused by mistakes in pointer casting are difficult to catch. This is so because explicit casts are required to cast a fixed-width type to a pointer or vice versa. Once these explicit type casts are introduced, no compiler warnings or errors are generated. In fact, the code may execute fine on, for example, 32-bit platforms and on 64-bit platforms with physical memory below 4 GB. The only failing case is when the code is tested on a 64-bit system with physical memory above 4 GB. The symptom is typically a processor exception that results in a system hang or reset.

The example below shows some good and bad examples of casting pointers. The first group is casting pointers to pointers. The second group is casting pointers to fixed width types, and the last group is casting fixed width types to pointers.

Example 10-Examples of casting pointers

#include <Uefi.h>
typedef struct {
UINT8 First;
UINT32 Second;
} MY_STRUCTURE;
MY_STRUCTURE *MyStructure;
UINT8 ValueU8;
UINT16 ValueU16;
UINT32 ValueU32;
UINT64 ValueU64;
UINTN ValueUN;
INT64 Value64;
INTN ValueN;
VOID *Pointer;
//
// Casting pointers to pointers
//
Pointer = (VOID *)MyStructure; // Good.
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)Pointer; // Good.
//
// Casting pointers to fixed width types
//
ValueU8 = (UINT8)MyStructure; // Bad. Strips upper 24 bits on 32-bit CPU.
// Strips upper 56 bits on 64-bit CPU.
ValueU16 = (UINT16)MyStructure; // Bad. Strips upper 16 bits on 32-bit CPU.
// Strips upper 48 bits on 64-bit CPU. ValueU32 = (UINT32)MyStructure;
// Bad. Works on 32-bit CPUs.
// Strips upper 32 bits on 64-bit CPU.
ValueU64 = (UINT64)MyStructure; // Good. Works on all architectures
Value64 = (INT64)MyStructure; // Good. Works on all architectures
ValueUN = (UINTN)MyStructure; // Good. Works on all architectures
ValueN = (INTN)MyStructure; // Good. Works on all architectures
//
// Casting fixed width types to pointers
//
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueU8; // Bad.
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueU16; // Bad.
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueU32; // Bad. Works on 32-bit CPUs.
// Works on 64-bit CPU with < 4GB memory
// Strips upper 32 bits on 64-bit CPU
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueU64; // Good. Works on all architectures
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)Value64; // Good. Works on all architectures
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueUN; // Good. Works on all architectures
MyStructure = (MY_STRUCTURE *)ValueN; // Good. Works on all architectures