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General-purpose registers in AArch32 state

There are restrictions on the use of SP and LR as general-purpose registers.

With the exception of ARMv6-M, ARMv7-M, ARMv8-M.baseline, and ARMv8-M.mainline based processors, there are 33 general-purpose 32-bit registers, including the banked SP and LR registers. Fifteen general-purpose registers are visible at any one time, depending on the current processor mode. These are R0-R12, SP, and LR. The PC (R15) is not considered a general-purpose register.

SP (or R13) is the stack pointer. The C and C++ compilers always use SP as the stack pointer. ARM® deprecates most uses of SP as a general purpose register. In T32 state, SP is strictly defined as the stack pointer. The instruction descriptions in Chapter 13 A32 and T32 Instructions describe when SP and PC can be used.

In User mode, LR (or R14) is used as a link register to store the return address when a subroutine call is made. It can also be used as a general-purpose register if the return address is stored on the stack.

In the exception handling modes, LR holds the return address for the exception, or a subroutine return address if subroutine calls are executed within an exception. LR can be used as a general-purpose register if the return address is stored on the stack.

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