Setting Up Paging With PAE

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This is a guide to setting up paging with PAE enabled. You should read Setting Up Paging first.

Differences between PAE-Paging and Legacy-Paging

  • PAE allows you to access more physical memory, which is usually 64GiB (in fact, this is implementation specific).
  • A new data structure is added, the so called 'Page-Directory-Pointer-Table'
  • An entry is now 8-byte-wide (Legacy: 4-byte), so the number of entries is halved to 512 (Legacy: 1024)
  • If the CPU supports it you can use the NoExecute-bit

Setting Up The Data Structures

As mentioned above the 'Page-Directory-Pointer-Table' is added, which contains 4 Page-Directory-Entries

uint64_t page_dir_ptr_tab[4] __attribute__((aligned(0x20))); // must be aligned to (at least)0x20, ...
    // ... turning out that you can put more of them into one page, saving memory

Keep in mind that the size of the CR3 register remains at 4byte, meaning that a PDPT must be located below 4GiB in physical memory.

Now we need our Page-Directory. For the sake of easiness, we'll use PSE. (2 MIB pages mapped in page directory)

// 512 entries
uint64_t page_dir[512] __attribute__((aligned(0x1000)));  // must be aligned to page boundary

Making it run

Ok, now we have our structures. Let's map the first 2 MIB.

page_dir_ptr_tab[0] = (uint64_t)&page_dir | 1; // set the page directory into the PDPT and mark it present
page_dir[0] = 0b10000011; //Address=0, 2MIB, RW and present

Pages are mapped. Now we have to set the PAE-bit in CR4 and load the PDPT into CR3

asm volatile ("movl %%cr4, %%eax; bts $5, %%eax; movl %%eax, %%cr4" ::: "eax"); // set bit5 in CR4 to enable PAE		 
asm volatile ("movl %0, %%cr3" :: "r" (&page_dir_ptr_tab)); // load PDPT into CR3

Finally, we'll enable paging. Simply done:

asm volatile ("movl %%cr0, %%eax; orl $0x80000000, %%eax; movl %%eax, %%cr0;" ::: "eax");

PAE paging should now be enabled.


Q: Why is it causing triple fault/page fault?

A: You're kernel is probably not inside the first 2 MiB of the memory. You'll need to identity map your kernel.

Q: How do I map pages?

A: Firstly, align your desired virtual memory address to 1 GiB, and divide it by 1 GiB to obtain the PDPT index. Then, find the index of the page directory by aligning your desired virtual address to 2 MiB and divide it by 2 MiB. Finally, lookup the page directory entry by the index obtained in the previous step, and set the entry's address to your desired physical address that's aligned to 2 MiB.