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Assembly

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Contents

Introduction

Assembly is probably definitely one of the most tedious languages out there. It's not that it's hard, but while the average language (C, C++, Java, etc.) takes around a month or two to learn, Assembly will probably take you more than a year to use proficiently. This is because unlike most languages which have a syntax similar to written English (for, if, etc.), Assembly is a low level language in which you write the instructions telling the processor what to do. The abstraction used in high level languages hides the complexity of the processor.

Who uses Assembly?

  • Fat nerds who think the more obtuse a programming language is, the better it must be.
  • Jackasses who like to pretend they are "going old school".
  • Those who really enjoy reinventing the wheel.
  • People optimizing compilers, but because they die like flies and the public is used to feature-stale software not running faster even after 10 years (see Microsoft Office), the industry rather buys faster hardware.
  • Crackergroups who circumvent copy protection of uncreative american games for money to enable eastern street dealers to sell them (instead of bread).
  • People who like making the closest to the metal code they can, not realizing that you can compile code to ASM then assemble.No its still faster.
  • Not even Grandma.

Example

PROTIP: These examples apply ONLY to x86 (and in some cases amd64) assembly programming.

This is "Hello, World!" example for MASM (note the includes, this is specific to MASM and Win32):

 .386

 .model flat, stdcall 
 option casemap :none 

 include \MASM32\INCLUDE\windows.inc
 include \MASM32\INCLUDE\masm32.inc
 include \MASM32\INCLUDE\user32.inc
 includelib \MASM32\LIB\user32.lib

 .data
 message db "i herd u liek mudkipz?",0
 mestitle db "lol, win32!",0

 .code
 start:
 invoke MessageBox,0,ADDR message,ADDR mestitle,MB_OK
 ret
 end start

If you're using FASM and you think invoke is for pussies:

 format PE GUI 4.0
 include 'win32a.inc'
 entry start
 
 section '.c0de' code data readable writeable executable
 
 data import
   library user32,"user32.dll"
   import user32,MessageBox,"MessageBoxA"
 end data
 
 message db 'i herd u liek mudkipz?',0
 title db 'lol, win32!',0
 
 align 0x10
 
 start:
   pop edx
   push 0
   push title
   push message
   push 0
   push edx
   jmp [MessageBox]

 data fixups
 end data

Or, if you prefer penguins (GAS)...:

.section .data
output:
    .ascii "Goodbye, cruel world!"
.section .text
.globl _main
_main:
    movl $output, %ecx
    movl $4, %eax
    movl $1, %ebx
    movl $21, %edx
    int $0x80
    movl $1, %eax
    movl $0, %ebx
    int $0x80

Simple, right?

Inline Assembly

Because assembly usually operates faster than high level code (C, BASIC, etc.) a lot of compilers for high level languages have support for inline assembly which is basically putting assembly code in your high level code.

This has the advantages of:

  • Optimizing speed critical algorithms
  • Direct hardware access Unless you're writing your own OS anyway, this is a myth.

But a big disadvantage is that the inline assembly may not work on other architectures.

Here is a tutorial for inline assembly with the gcc compiler.


Optimizing Programs

Here's a short thing about some of the things that you can optimize by using assembly in your programs along with some things you cannot. Firstly, you can greatly optimize all of the operations inside of your DO and DO..WHILE loops these are very easy to replace in assembly, although you should note that if these calculations aren't very big then obviously interfacing it will cause your program to go slower. This is because every time the program calls this separate assembly module, it needs to save certain registers in the stack and then restore them. Which is OK for some programs but it could in theory be a pain in the ass for big programs that call the function several times, but that is again if the calculations aren't very big. IF.. Else's on the other hand aren't very easy to optimize, not that you can't optimize them, but really all of the optimizations you can do to them are very minor and kerxish. Basic math operations are very easy to optimize in assembly especially chunks of code that are repeated a lot. Regular integer stuff is easy to put into assembly but floating point operations are different, although this is not to imply that they are very much more difficult. They are different because all floating point operations are handled by the FPU registers, all of which commands have the letter F added to the front of them, I will elaborate more eventually on FPU. SIMD, which stands for Single Instruction, Multiple Data can be used to optimize vectors. SIMD can be used to optimize multimedia, bullshit like games, etc. The two extensions I know about are MMX and SSE (also I just googled for it, but since I learned assembly there is now SSE2, SSSE3, and an SSSSE4? lol so I'd suggest you look into them instead). It gets even worse if you include 3DNow!. tl;dr amirite?

"Optimizing Programs"

Assembly is the only language you have to work with when cracking programs. (What kinda noob wrote this?) Imagine the pain groups like Razor1911 have to go through--- HAHA DISREGARD THAT I SUCK COCKS

Assemblers

To turn your assembly code into binary you need to assemble it (compile), here's a list of a few of the most popular ones.

External Links

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