In the last article, we saw the commands used in RISC-V GDB to debug a program. In addition to that, we are going to see how to use objdump and the RISC-V GDB to debug a program. Because, as we know GDB lets us dissect a program and inspect it part by part. Let’s see just how to do that!

What is objdump?

objdump is a command-line program for displaying various information about object files on Unix-like operating systems. As a result, it can be used as a disassembler to view an executable in assembly form.

The objdump can be generated from a .elf file. For instance,

riscv64-unknown-elf-objdump -d filename.elf &> filename.dump

RISC-V basics

The RISC-V Green card gives us all the assembly instructions used in RISC-V. Also, check out our ASM Manual to know more about the Assembly Programing

Firstly the registers in RISC-V is as follows,

Fig. Registers in RISC-V

Debugging an ASM program with GDB

spiking is a folder that contains all the board support files for you to debug an asm or a c program. Therefore you can use either spike (RISC-V Emulator) or arty7 boards with GDB.

Moreover in this article, we would debug this asm program with spike (RISC-V emulator) and RISC-V GDB. Check here for elaborate steps.

If you want to debug this program with GDB and Arty7 boards, Click here!

Firstly clone the spiking folder.

git clone

Let’s consider a simple if-else program. For instance, save this as example.S

   andi t0, t0, 0   #initialization
   andi t1, t1, 0
   andi t2, t2, 0
   andi t3, t3, 0
#arithmetic Operations
   addi t0, t0, 20   # t0=t0+20, t0=20 
   addi t1, t1, 10   # t1=10
   li t2, 30         # t2=30
   li t3, 15         # t3=15
   bgt t0, t1, ELSE  # Branch if t0 > t1
   add t0, t2, t3 j END
ELSE: sub t1, t2, t3

Then compile this program using this command,

riscv64-unknown-elf-gcc -nostdlib -nostartfiles -T example.S -o example.elf

Then generate the objdump for this program from the elf file

riscv64-unknown-elf-objdump -d example.elf &> example.dump

So the objdump for this program looks like this,

  • First column – Address of a particular instruction.
  • Second column – RISC-V instructions.
  • Third column – ABI name of the registers.
Fig. Objdump of the example program.

Open 3 Terminals for debugging,

Note: However ensure all the commands are executed inside the spiking folder as it contains all the board support packages.

Terminal 1:

Firstly, Open a terminal with spike

cd spiking

riscv64-unknown-elf-gcc -nostdlib -nostartfiles -T bootload.S -o bootload.elf

$(which spike) --rbb-port=9824 -m0x10010000:0x20000 bootload.elf $(which pk)
Fig. spike, the RISC-V emulator

Terminal 2:

Then, Open a terminal with OpenOCD

sudo $(which openocd) -f spike.cfg
Fig. OpenOCD

Terminal 3:

Then open a terminal for RISC-V GDB,

(gdb) set remotetimeout unlimited
(gdb) target remote localhost:3333
(gdb) file path/to/executable
(gdb) load
(gdb) c

At address 0x10010000 in start() in other words the first line of the program.

Step 1:

So see the objdump and set the breakpoints at appropriate addresses.

Left: Third terminal with GDB; Right: objdump of the sample program

Firstly, set the Breakpoint 1 after the initialization of all the 4 temporary registers(t0, t1, t2, t3), at 0x10010010.

Then Set the Breakpoint 2 after the values of the registers are assigned, at 0x10010018.

Step 2:

Press C to Continue. However the execution stops when the 1st breakpoint is encountered.

Program counter specifies the next instruction to be executed by the system.

At address 0x10010010 – breakpoint 1 in start(), so info reg gives the value of registers. As a result, the register values are initialized.

Fig. After Breakpoint 1

Step 3:

PC: 0x10010010 in START, in other words the next instruction that compile executes.

Press C to Continue again. However the Continue command stops the execution again when the 2nd breakpoint is encountered.

At address 0x10010018breakpoint 2 in start(). So info reg gives the value of registers. As a result, the register values are assigned.

Fig. After Breakpoint 2

Step 4:

PC: 0x10010018 in START(), in other words the next instruction that compile executes.

Then step in (s i) the program. Then execute the branch instruction at 0x10010018. As a result, the compiler jumps to ELSE() at 0x10010022

Step 5:

PC : 0x10010022 at ELSE(), in other words the next instruction that compiler executes.

Then step in (s i) and execute the instruction at 0x10010022.

10010022: sub t1, t2, t3
t1=30-15 =15

In conclusion, this image shows the value of t1 after the execution of else statement,

Now let’s consider a program that is slightly complicated. For example, an ASM program with an array input and a for loop nested with If-else.

ASM to determine if the number in array is odd or even.

Array: .byte 12,19,45,69,98,23
  andi t0, t0, 0
  andi t1, t1, 0
  andi t2, t2, 0
  andi t3, t3, 0
  andi t4, t4, 0
  andi t5, t5, 0
  li t4, 6
  li t5, 2
FOR_loop: bge t3, t4, END
          la t2, Array
          add t2, t2, t3
          lb t2, 0(t2)
          rem t2, t2, t5
IF: bnez t2, ELSE
    addi t0, t0, 1
    addi t3, t3, 1
    j FOR_loop
    addi t1, t1, 1
    addi t3, t3, 1
j FOR_loop

So try debugging this on your own. However, also don’t forget to check out the video on our Youtube channel.

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