6.12.2. Several chained handlers

Some circumstances require more than a single handler. Consider the situation in which a standard Angel debugger is executing, and a standalone user application (or RTOS) is then downloaded that wants to support some additional SVCs. The newly loaded application might have its own entirely-independent exception handler that it wants to install, but which cannot replace the Angel handler.

In this case the address of the old handler must be noted so that the new handler is able to call the old handler if it discovers that the source of the exception is not a source it can deal with. For example, an RTOS SVC handler would call the Angel SVC handler on discovering that the SVC was not an RTOS SVC, so that the Angel SVC handler gets a chance to process it.

This approach can be extended to any number of levels to build a chain of handlers. Although code that takes this approach enables each handler to be entirely independent, it is less efficient than code that uses a single handler, or at least it becomes less efficient the further down the chain of handlers it has to go.

Both routines given in Installing the handlers from C return the old contents of the vector. This value can be decoded to give:

The offset for a branch instruction

This can be used to calculate the location of the original handler and enable a new branch instruction to be constructed and stored at a suitable place in memory. If the replacement handler fails to handle the exception, it can branch to the constructed branch instruction, which in turn branches to the original handler.

The location used to store the address of the original handler

If the application handler fails to handle the exception, it has to load the PC from that location.

In most cases, such calculations are not necessary because information on the debug monitor or RTOS handlers is available to you. If so, the instructions required to chain in the next handler can be hard-coded into the application. The last section of the handler must check that the cause of the exception has been handled. If it has, the handler can return to the application. If not, it must call the next handler in the chain.


When chaining in a handler before a debug monitor handler, you must remove the chain when the monitor is removed from the system, then directly install the application handler.

Copyright © 2002-2006 ARM Limited. All rights reserved.ARM DUI 0203G