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Function Types

There are basically two types of functions. A function that requires a stack frame is called a frame function. A function that does not require a stack frame is called a leaf function.

A frame function is a function that allocates stack space, calls other functions, saves nonvolatile registers, or uses exception handling. It also requires a function table entry. A frame function requires a prolog and an epilog. A frame function can dynamically allocate stack space and can employ a frame pointer. A frame function has the full capabilities of this calling standard at its disposal.

If a frame function does not call another function then it is not required to align the stack (referenced in Section Stack Allocation).

A leaf function is one that does not require a function table entry. It cannot call any functions, allocate space, or save any nonvolatile registers. It is allowed to leave the stack unaligned while it executes.