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Daniil Fedorov
July 1, 2024
Updated July 1, 2024


ABI, or Application Binary Interface, serves as a crucial interface linking two binary modules of a program at the machine code level. It delineates the low-level technicalities of how software components interact, with a particular emphasis on executing processor instructions.

Key elements of ABI include

  • Calling Convention: This defines the protocols for passing arguments to functions, returning values, allocating registers, and determining responsibility for maintaining their state.
  • Binary Format:This specifies the standards for the storage and organization of executable files and object files, as well as libraries. Examples include ELF for Unix-like systems and PE for Windows.
  • System Calls: This encompasses a range of interfaces designed for interaction with the operating system.
  • Data Representation: This lays out the format and memory alignment for data types such as floating-point numbers, arrays, and structures.

Why is ABI needed?

  • Compatibility: Ensures compatibility between different software modules, allowing the use of libraries compiled by different compilers.
  • Code Reusability: Allows libraries to work with various applications, regardless of the compiler.
  • Optimization: Standardization of ABI allows compilers to produce more optimized code, knowing exactly how functions are called and data is passed.


If you have a compiled library in the C language, it can be used by a program in C++ or another language whose compiler supports the corresponding ABI. For instance, on the x86_64 platform for Unix-like systems, the System V ABI is a standard.

Importance for Developers

Developers should consider the importance of ABI, especially when creating libraries and modules for wide usage. ABI incompatibility between versions can cause errors and reduce the stability of the software.

ABI is a key element in the software ecosystem, ensuring interaction and compatibility of various software components at a low level.

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