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I came across a small function whose only side effects were to modify the state of some processor flags. When I decompiled this function using the Hex Rays decompiler, I simply got an empty function, which is not useful at all in figuring out what the function does. Instead I had to look up each instruction in the assembly language manual and read the pseudocode to determine the net effect of the function. Is there some tool I can paste assembly instructions into and it will spit out all side effects, including flags? I'm interested in x86.

  • When you say you decompiled it, you mean via Hex-Rays? – Rolf Rolles Jun 7 '13 at 21:37
  • Yeah I was using IDA and Hex-Rays. – user2142 Jun 7 '13 at 21:37
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    @user2142: best bet is to learn assembly first, get used to that and then proceed to the decompiler, not the other way around. – 0xC0000022L Jun 7 '13 at 21:50
  • I know know assembly I just had to consult the manual because I did not have all the flag side effects memorized – user2142 Jun 7 '13 at 22:01
  • @user2142: most concise most general-purpose opcodes can be found on a two side cheat page here. – 0xC0000022L Jun 8 '13 at 14:32
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Hex-Rays performs liveness analysis and dead code elimination, which in the case of your function, it sounds like it decided everything was dead. I think it's impossible to tell Hex-Rays via __usercall that the return location for some function is in a flag location, so under that assumption, Hex-Rays can't help in this situation.

What you want is a tool that is capable of rendering the intermediate language translation for a given instruction or block of instructions. To that extent, tools such as BitBlaze, BAP, and miasm can help. Also see this link for a language-agnostic interface to BAP.

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  • Never heard of this tool, this is exactly what I want. Though I guess I am depending on the fact that they read the Intel manuals carefully and got all the side effects right. – user2142 Jun 7 '13 at 22:00
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    No matter what tool you use, you will depend on a fact such as that. In the case of dynamic analysis, you can at least watch in the debugger to verify that changes are happening in the specified locations. – Rolf Rolles Jun 7 '13 at 22:35
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    @user2142: To me it sounds a bit odd that someone would rather read an IR and not the original assembly code. May I ask why do you want that? – NirIzr Jun 7 '13 at 23:21
  • I'm not really sure I want that. Just asked a question that popped into my head while reversing! – user2142 Jun 9 '13 at 23:00

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