Chapter 9 -- Exceptions and Interrupts
prev: 9.7 Error Code
next: 9.9 Exception Summary
9.8 Exception Conditions
The following sections describe each of the possible exception conditions
in detail. Each description classifies the exception as a fault, trap, or
abort. This classification provides information needed by systems
programmers for restarting the procedure in which the exception occurred:
The CS and EIP values saved when a fault is reported point to the
instruction causing the fault.
The CS and EIP values stored when the trap is reported point to the
instruction dynamically after the instruction causing the trap. If
a trap is detected during an instruction that alters program flow,
the reported values of CS and EIP reflect the alteration of program
flow. For example, if a trap is detected in a
JMP instruction, the
CS and EIP values pushed onto the stack point to the target of the
JMP, not to the instruction after the
An abort is an exception that permits neither precise location of
the instruction causing the exception nor restart of the program
that caused the exception. Aborts are used to report severe errors,
such as hardware errors and inconsistent or illegal values in
9.8.1 Interrupt 0 -- Divide Error
The divide-error fault occurs during a DIV or an
IDIV instruction when the
divisor is zero.
9.8.2 Interrupt 1 -- Debug Exceptions
The processor triggers this interrupt for any of a number of conditions;
whether the exception is a fault or a trap depends on the condition:
The processor does not push an error code for this exception. An exception
handler can examine the debug registers to determine which condition caused
the exception . Refer to
for more detailed information about
debugging and the debug registers.
- Instruction address breakpoint fault.
- Data address breakpoint trap.
- General detect fault.
- Single-step trap.
- Task-switch breakpoint trap.
9.8.3 Interrupt 3 -- Breakpoint
The INT 3 instruction causes this trap. The
INT 3 instruction is one byte
long, which makes it easy to replace an opcode in an executable segment with
the breakpoint opcode. The operating system or a debugging subsystem can use
a data-segment alias for an executable segment to place an
INT 3 anywhere it
is convenient to arrest normal execution so that some sort of special
processing can be performed. Debuggers typically use breakpoints as a way of
displaying registers, variables, etc., at crucial points in a task.
The saved CS:EIP value points to the byte following the breakpoint. If a
debugger replaces a planted breakpoint with a valid opcode, it must subtract
one from the saved EIP value before returning . Refer also to
more information on debugging.
9.8.4 Interrupt 4 -- Overflow
This trap occurs when the processor encounters an
INTO instruction and the
OF (overflow) flag is set. Since signed arithmetic and unsigned arithmetic
both use the same arithmetic instructions, the processor cannot determine
which is intended and therefore does not cause overflow exceptions
automatically. Instead it merely sets OF when the results, if interpreted as
signed numbers, would be out of range. When doing arithmetic on signed
operands, careful programmers and compilers either test OF directly or use
the INTO instruction.
9.8.5 Interrupt 5 -- Bounds Check
This fault occurs when the processor, while executing a
finds that the operand exceeds the specified limits. A program can use the
instruction to check a signed array index against signed limits
defined in a block of memory.
9.8.6 Interrupt 6 -- Invalid Opcode
This fault occurs when an invalid opcode is detected by the execution unit.
(The exception is not detected until an attempt is made to execute the
invalid opcode; i.e., prefetching an invalid opcode does not cause this
exception.) No error code is pushed on the stack. The exception can be
handled within the same task.
This exception also occurs when the type of operand is invalid for the
given opcode. Examples include an intersegment
JMP referencing a register
operand, or an
LES instruction with a register source operand.
9.8.7 Interrupt 7 -- Coprocessor Not Available
This exception occurs in either of two conditions:
for information about the coprocessor interface .
- The processor encounters an ESC (escape) instruction, and the EM
(emulate) bit ofCR0 (control register zero) is set.
- The processor encounters either the
WAIT instruction or an ESC
instruction, and both the MP (monitor coprocessor) and TS (task
switched) bits of CR0 are set.
9.8.8 Interrupt 8 -- Double Fault
Normally, when the processor detects an exception while trying to invoke
the handler for a prior exception, the two exceptions can be handled
serially. If, however, the processor cannot handle them serially, it signals
the double-fault exception instead. To determine when two faults are to be
signalled as a double fault, the 80386 divides the exceptions into three
classes: benign exceptions, contributory exceptions, and page faults.
Table 9-3 shows this classification.
shows which combinations of exceptions cause a double fault and
which do not.
The processor always pushes an error code onto the stack of the
double-fault handler; however, the error code is always zero. The faulting
instruction may not be restarted. If any other exception occurs while
attempting to invoke the double-fault handler, the processor shuts down.
Table 9-3. Double-Fault Detection Classes
Class ID Description
1 Debug exceptions
Benign 4 Overflow
Exceptions 5 Bounds check
6 Invalid opcode
7 Coprocessor not available
16 Coprocessor error
0 Divide error
9 Coprocessor Segment Overrun
Contributory 10 Invalid TSS
Exceptions 11 Segment not present
12 Stack exception
13 General protection
Page Faults 14 Page fault
Table 9-4. Double-Fault Definition
Benign Contributory Page
Exception Exception Fault
Benign OK OK OK
FIRST Contributory OK DOUBLE OK
Fault OK DOUBLE DOUBLE
9.8.9 Interrupt 9 -- Coprocessor Segment Overrun
This exception is raised in protected mode if the 80386 detects a page or
segment violation while transferring the middle portion of a coprocessor
operand to the NPX . This exception is avoidable. Refer to
more information about the coprocessor interface.
9.8.10 Interrupt 10 -- Invalid TSS
Interrupt 10 occurs if during a task switch the new TSS is invalid. A TSS
is considered invalid in the cases shown in
Table 9-5. An error code is
pushed onto the stack to help identify the cause of the fault. The EXT bit
indicates whether the exception was caused by a condition outside the
control of the program; e.g., an external interrupt via a task gate
triggered a switch to an invalid TSS.
This fault can occur either in the context of the original task or in the
context of the new task. Until the processor has completely verified the
presence of the new TSS, the exception occurs in the context of the original
task. Once the existence of the new TSS is verified, the task switch is
considered complete; i.e., TR is updated and, if the switch is due to a
or interrupt, the backlink of the new TSS is set to the old TSS. Any
errors discovered by the processor after this point are handled in the
context of the new task.
To insure a proper TSS to process it, the handler for exception 10 must be
a task invoked via a task gate.
Table 9-5. Conditions That Invalidate the TSS
Error Code Condition
TSS id + EXT The limit in the TSS descriptor is less than 103
LTD id + EXT Invalid LDT selector or LDT not present
SS id + EXT Stack segment selector is outside table limit
SS id + EXT Stack segment is not a writable segment
SS id + EXT Stack segment DPL does not match new CPL
SS id + EXT Stack segment selector RPL < > CPL
CS id + EXT Code segment selector is outside table limit
CS id + EXT Code segment selector does not refer to code
CS id + EXT DPL of non-conforming code segment < > new CPL
CS id + EXT DPL of conforming code segment > new CPL
DS/ES/FS/GS id + EXT DS, ES, FS, or GS segment selector is outside
DS/ES/FS/GS id + EXT DS, ES, FS, or GS is not readable segment
9.8.11 Interrupt 11 -- Segment Not Present
Exception 11 occurs when the processor detects that the present bit of a
descriptor is zero. The processor can trigger this fault in any of these
This fault is restartable. If the exception handler makes the segment
present and returns, the interrupted program will resume execution.
- While attempting to load the CS, DS, ES, FS, or GS registers; loading
the SS register, however, causes a stack fault.
- While attempting loading the LDT register with an
loading the LDT register during a task switch operation, however,
causes the "invalid TSS" exception.
- While attempting to use a gate descriptor that is marked not-present.
If a not-present exception occurs during a task switch, not all the steps
of the task switch are complete. During a task switch, the processor first
loads all the segment registers, then checks their contents for validity. If
a not-present exception is discovered, the remaining segment registers have
not been checked and therefore may not be usable for referencing memory. The
not-present handler should not rely on being able to use the values found
in CS, SS, DS, ES, FS, and GS without causing another exception. The
exception handler should check all segment registers before trying to resume
the new task; otherwise, general protection faults may result later under
conditions that make diagnosis more difficult. There are three ways to
handle this case:
This exception pushes an error code onto the stack. The EXT bit of the
error code is set if an event external to the program caused an interrupt
that subsequently referenced a not-present segment. The I-bit is set if the
error code refers to an IDT entry, e.g., an
INT instruction referencing a
- Handle the not-present fault with a task. The task switch back to the
interrupted task will cause the processor to check the registers as it
loads them from the TSS.
POP all segment registers. Each
POP causes the processor to
check the new contents of the segment register.
- Scrutinize the contents of each segment-register image in the TSS,
simulating the test that the processor makes when it loads a segment
An operating system typically uses the "segment not present" exception to
implement virtual memory at the segment level. A not-present indication in a
gate descriptor, however, usually does not indicate that a segment is not
present (because gates do not necessarily correspond to segments).
Not-present gates may be used by an operating system to trigger exceptions
of special significance to the operating system.
9.8.12 Interrupt 12 -- Stack Exception
A stack fault occurs in either of two general conditions:
When the processor detects a stack exception, it pushes an error code onto
the stack of the exception handler. If the exception is due to a not-present
stack segment or to overflow of the new stack during an interlevel
error code contains a selector to the segment in question (the exception
handler can test the present bit in the descriptor to determine which
exception occurred); otherwise the error code is zero.
- As a result of a limit violation in any operation that refers to the
SS register. This includes stack-oriented instructions such as
LEAVE, as well as other memory references that
implicitly use SS (for example, MOV AX, [BP+6]).
ENTER causes this
exception when the stack is too small for the indicated local-variable
- When attempting to load the SS register with a descriptor that is
marked not-present but is otherwise valid. This can occur in a task
switch, an interlevel
CALL, an interlevel return, an
or a MOV or POP instruction to SS.
An instruction that causes this fault is restartable in all cases. The
return pointer pushed onto the exception handler's stack points to the
instruction that needs to be restarted. This instruction is usually the one
that caused the exception; however, in the case of a stack exception due to
loading of a not-present stack-segment descriptor during a task switch, the
indicated instruction is the first instruction of the new task.
When a stack fault occurs during a task switch, the segment registers may
not be usable for referencing memory. During a task switch, the selector
values are loaded before the descriptors are checked. If a stack fault is
discovered, the remaining segment registers have not been checked and
therefore may not be usable for referencing memory. The stack fault handler
should not rely on being able to use the values found in CS, SS, DS, ES,
FS, and GS without causing another exception. The exception handler should
check all segment registers before trying to resume the new task; otherwise,
general protection faults may result later under conditions that make
diagnosis more difficult.
9.8.13 Interrupt 13 -- General Protection Exception
All protection violations that do not cause another exception cause a
general protection exception. This includes (but is not limited to):
The general protection exception is a fault. In response to a general
protection exception, the processor pushes an error code onto the exception
handler's stack. If loading a descriptor causes the exception, the error
code contains a selector to the descriptor; otherwise, the error code is
null. The source of the selector in an error code may be any of the
- Exceeding segment limit when using CS, DS, ES, FS, or GS
- Exceeding segment limit when referencing a descriptor table
- Transferring control to a segment that is not executable
- Writing into a read-only data segment or into a code segment
- Reading from an execute-only segment
- Loading the SS register with a read-only descriptor (unless the
selector comes from the TSS during a task switch, in which case a TSS
- Loading SS, DS, ES, FS, or GS with the descriptor of a system segment
- Loading DS, ES, FS, or GS with the descriptor of an executable
segment that is not also readable
- Loading SS with the descriptor of an executable segment
- Accessing memory via DS, ES, FS, or GS when the segment register
contains a null selector
- Switching to a busy task
- Violating privilege rules
- Loading CR0 with PG=1 and PE=0.
- Interrupt or exception via trap or interrupt gate from V86 mode to
privilege level other than zero.
- Exceeding the instruction length limit of 15 bytes (this can occur
only if redundant prefixes are placed before an instruction)
- An operand of the instruction.
- A selector from a gate that is the operand of the instruction.
- A selector from a TSS involved in a task switch.
9.8.14 Interrupt 14 -- Page Fault
This exception occurs when paging is enabled (PG=1) and the processor
detects one of the following conditions while translating a linear address
to a physical address:
The processor makes available to the page fault handler two items of
information that aid in diagnosing the exception and recovering from it:
- The page-directory or page-table entry needed for the address
translation has zero in its present bit.
- The current procedure does not have sufficient privilege to access the
- An error code on the stack. The error code for a page fault has a
format different from that for other exceptions (see
error code tells the exception handler three things:
- Whether the exception was due to a not present page or to an access
- Whether the processor was executing at user or supervisor level at
the time of the exception.
- Whether the memory access that caused the exception was a read or
- CR2 (control register two). The processor stores in CR2 the linear
address used in the access that caused the exception (see
The exception handler can use this address to locate the corresponding
page directory and page table entries. If another page fault can occur
during execution of the page fault handler, the handler should push CR2
onto the stack.
220.127.116.11 Page Fault During Task Switch
The processor may access any of four segments during a task switch:
A page fault can result from accessing any of these segments. In the latter
two cases the exception occurs in the context of the new task. The
instruction pointer refers to the next instruction of the new task, not to
the instruction that caused the task switch. If the design of the operating
system permits page faults to occur during task-switches, the page-fault
handler should be invoked via a task gate.
- Writes the state of the original task in the TSS of that task.
- Reads the GDT to locate the TSS descriptor of the new task.
- Reads the TSS of the new task to check the types of segment
descriptors from the TSS.
- May read the LDT of the new task in order to verify the segment
registers stored in the new TSS.
18.104.22.168 Page Fault with Inconsistent Stack Pointer
Special care should be taken to ensure that a page fault does not cause the
processor to use an invalid stack pointer (SS:ESP). Software written for
earlier processors in the 8086 family often uses a pair of instructions to
change to a new stack; for example:
MOV SS, AX
MOV SP, StackTop
With the 80386, because the second instruction accesses memory, it is
possible to get a page fault after SS has been changed but before SP has
received the corresponding change. At this point, the two parts of the stack
pointer SS:SP (or, for 32-bit programs, SS:ESP) are inconsistent.
The processor does not use the inconsistent stack pointer if the handling
of the page fault causes a stack switch to a well defined stack (i.e., the
handler is a task or a more privileged procedure). However, if the page
fault handler is invoked by a trap or interrupt gate and the page fault
occurs at the same privilege level as the page fault handler, the processor
will attempt to use the stack indicated by the current (invalid) stack
In systems that implement paging and that handle page faults within the
faulting task (with trap or interrupt gates), software that executes at the
same privilege level as the page fault handler should initialize a new stack
by using the new
LSS instruction rather than an instruction pair shown
above. When the page fault handler executes at privilege level zero (the
normal case), the scope of the problem is limited to privilege-level zero
code, typically the kernel of the operating system.
9.8.15 Interrupt 16 -- Coprocessor Error
The 80386 reports this exception when it detects a signal from the 80287 or
80387 on the 80386's ERROR# input pin. The 80386 tests this pin only at the
beginning of certain ESC instructions and when it encounters a
instruction while the EM bit of the MSW is zero (no emulation). Refer to
for more information on the coprocessor interface.
Chapter 9 -- Exceptions and Interrupts
prev: 9.7 Error Code
next: 9.9 Exception Summary