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5.3. Monitor mode software

The role of the monitor mode software in a design is to provide a robust gatekeeper which manages the switches between the Secure and Non-secure processor states. In most designs its functionality will be similar to a traditional operating system context switch, ensuring that state of the world that the processor is leaving is safely saved, and the state of the world the processor is switching to is correctly restored.

Normal world entry to monitor mode is tightly controlled. It is only possible via the following exceptions: an interrupt, an external abort, or an explicit call via an SMC instruction. The Secure world entry to the monitor mode is a little more flexible, and can be achieved by directly writing to CPSR, in addition to the exception mechanisms available to the Normal world.

The monitor is a security critical component, as it provides the interface between the two worlds. For robustness reasons it is suggested that the monitor code executes with interrupts disabled; writing a re-entrant monitor would add complexity and is unlikely to provide significant benefits over a simpler design.

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