Using Floating Point in a WDM Driver

Last updated

  • July 2016

Kernel-mode WDM drivers for Windows must follow certain guidelines when using floating-point operations. These differ between x86 and x64 systems. By default, Windows turns off arithmetic exceptions for both systems.

x86 systems

Kernel-mode WDM drivers for x86 systems must wrap the use of floating point calculations between calls to KeSaveExtendedProcessorState and KeRestoreExtendedProcessorState. The floating point operations must be placed in a non-inline subroutine to make sure that floating point calculations are not performed before checking the return value of KeSaveExtendedProcessorState due to compiler reordering.

The compiler makes use of MMX/x87 also known as the floating-point unit (FPU) registers for such calculations, which can be concurrently used by a user-mode application. Failure to save these registers before using them, or failure to restore them when finished, may cause calculation errors in applications.

Drivers for x86 systems can call KeSaveExtendedProcessorState and perform floating point calculations at IRQL <= DISPATCH_LEVEL. Floating-point operations are not supported in interrupt service routines (ISRs) on x86 systems.

x64 systems

The 64-bit compiler does not use the MMX/x87 registers for floating point operations. Instead, it uses the SSE registers. x64 kernel mode code is not allowed to access the MMX/x87 registers. The compiler also takes care of properly saving and restoring the SSE state, therefore, calls to KeSaveExtendedProcessorState and KeRestoreExtendedProcessorState are unnecessary and floating point operations can be used in ISRs. Use of other extended processor features such as AVX, requires saving and restoring extended state. For more information see Using extended processor features in Windows drivers.


The following example shows how a WDM driver should wrap its FPU access:

    double Duration;
    LARGE_INTEGER Frequency;

    Duration = 1000000.0;
    DbgPrint("%I64x\n", *(LONGLONG*)&Duration);
    Duration /= (double)Frequency.QuadPart;
    DbgPrint("%I64x\n", *(LONGLONG*)&Duration);

    _In_ PDRIVER_OBJECT DriverObject,
    _In_ PUNICODE_STRING RegistryPath

    XSTATE_SAVE SaveState;
    NTSTATUS Status;

    Status = KeSaveExtendedProcessorState(XSTATE_MASK_LEGACY, &SaveState);
    if (!NT_SUCCESS(Status)) {
        goto exit;

    __try {
    __finally {

    return Status;

In the example, the assignment to the floating-point variable occurs between calls to KeSaveExtendedProcessorState and KeRestoreExtendedProcessorState. Because any assignment to a floating-point variable uses the FPU, drivers must ensure that KeSaveExtendedProcessorState has returned without error before initializing such a variable.

The preceding calls are unnecessary on an x64 system and harmless when the XSTATE_MASK_LEGACY flag is specified. Therefore, there is no need to change the code when compiling the driver for an x64 system.

On x86-based systems, the FPU is reset to its default state by a call to FNINIT, upon return from KeSaveExtendedProcessorState.