A framework for Rapid Development of Dynamic Binary Translators

Binary recompilation and translation play an important role in computer systems today. It is used by systems such as Java and .NET, and system emulators like VMWare and VirtualPC.

A dynamic binary translator have several things in common with a regular compiler but as they usually have to translate code in real-time several constraints have to be made, especially when it comes to making code optimisations.

Designing a dynamic recompiler is a complex process that involves repetitive tasks. Translation tables have to be constructed for the source architecture which contains the data necessary to translate each instruction into binary code that can be executed on the target architecture.

This report presents a method that allows a developer to specify how the source and target architectures work using a set of scripting languages. The purpose of these languages is to relocate the repetitive tasks to computer software, so that they do not have to be performed manually by programmers.

At the end of the report a simple benchmark is used to evaluate the performance of a basic IA32 emulator running on a PowerPC target that have been implemented using the system described here. The results of the benchmark is compared to the results of running the same benchmark on other, existing, emulators in order to show that the system presented here can compete with the existing methods used today.

Several ongoing research projects are looking into ways of designing binary translators. Most of these projects focus on ways of optimising code in real-time and how to solve the problems related to binary translation, such as handling self-modifying code.
Source: University of Skövde
Author: Holm, David

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