This article tries to discuss the basics of memory layouts in C. When a C file is preprocessed, compiled, assembled and linked – a memory layout of the code/data/stack/heap area is generated. The C program memory layout is depicted below
The different sections are
- .text segment – code section – the C code is placed here. The .text segment contains executable instructions and is shareable across multiple instances of the program. It is a read-only segment.
- .data segment – initialized data – the global/static/constant initialized variables are placed here. It is a read-write memory.
- .data segment – uninitialized data – the global/static/constant uninitialized variables are placed here. It is also a read-write memory.
- .heap segment – dynamically allocated memory region. Memory allocated via malloc/calloc/kalloc etc.
- .stack segment – automatic variables/variables passed in functions are stored in stack
Note: The basic notion is that stack and Heap grow in opposite directions, usually the assumption is that stack grows downwards and Heap grows upwards. When both stack and heap meet – program runs out of memory.
Though the above comment is universally accepted, stack can also grow upwards and heap downwards in memory and is actually platform dependent.