Inline Assembly

For extremely low-level manipulations and performance reasons, one might wish to control the CPU directly. Rust supports using inline assembly to do this via the asm! macro. The syntax roughly matches that of GCC & Clang:

asm!(assembly template
   : output operands
   : input operands
   : clobbers
   : options
   );

Any use of asm is feature gated (requires #![feature(asm)] on the crate to allow) and of course requires an unsafe block.

Note: the examples here are given in x86/x86-64 assembly, but all platforms are supported.

Assembly template

The assembly template is the only required parameter and must be a literal string (i.e. "")

#![feature(asm)]

#[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
fn foo() {
    unsafe {
        asm!("NOP");
    }
}

// other platforms
#[cfg(not(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64")))]
fn foo() { /* ... */ }

fn main() {
    // ...
    foo();
    // ...
}

(The feature(asm) and #[cfg]s are omitted from now on.)

Output operands, input operands, clobbers and options are all optional but you must add the right number of : if you skip them:

# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
# fn main() { unsafe {
asm!("xor %eax, %eax"
    :
    :
    : "{eax}"
   );
# } }

Whitespace also doesn't matter:

# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
# fn main() { unsafe {
asm!("xor %eax, %eax" ::: "{eax}");
# } }

Operands

Input and output operands follow the same format: : "constraints1"(expr1), "constraints2"(expr2), ...". Output operand expressions must be mutable lvalues, or not yet assigned:

# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
fn add(a: i32, b: i32) -> i32 {
    let c: i32;
    unsafe {
        asm!("add $2, $0"
             : "=r"(c)
             : "0"(a), "r"(b)
             );
    }
    c
}
# #[cfg(not(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64")))]
# fn add(a: i32, b: i32) -> i32 { a + b }

fn main() {
    assert_eq!(add(3, 14159), 14162)
}

If you would like to use real operands in this position, however, you are required to put curly braces {} around the register that you want, and you are required to put the specific size of the operand. This is useful for very low level programming, where which register you use is important:

# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
# unsafe fn read_byte_in(port: u16) -> u8 {
let result: u8;
asm!("in %dx, %al" : "={al}"(result) : "{dx}"(port));
result
# }

Clobbers

Some instructions modify registers which might otherwise have held different values so we use the clobbers list to indicate to the compiler not to assume any values loaded into those registers will stay valid.

# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
# fn main() { unsafe {
// Put the value 0x200 in eax
asm!("mov $$0x200, %eax" : /* no outputs */ : /* no inputs */ : "{eax}");
# } }

Input and output registers need not be listed since that information is already communicated by the given constraints. Otherwise, any other registers used either implicitly or explicitly should be listed.

If the assembly changes the condition code register cc should be specified as one of the clobbers. Similarly, if the assembly modifies memory, memory should also be specified.

Options

The last section, options is specific to Rust. The format is comma separated literal strings (i.e. :"foo", "bar", "baz"). It's used to specify some extra info about the inline assembly:

Current valid options are:

  1. volatile - specifying this is analogous to __asm__ __volatile__ (...) in gcc/clang.
  2. alignstack - certain instructions expect the stack to be aligned a certain way (i.e. SSE) and specifying this indicates to the compiler to insert its usual stack alignment code
  3. intel - use intel syntax instead of the default AT&T.
# #![feature(asm)]
# #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
# fn main() {
let result: i32;
unsafe {
   asm!("mov eax, 2" : "={eax}"(result) : : : "intel")
}
println!("eax is currently {}", result);
# }

More Information

The current implementation of the asm! macro is a direct binding to LLVM's inline assembler expressions, so be sure to check out their documentation as well for more information about clobbers, constraints, etc.