Kernel Stack Overflows

We would like to talk about a common error that we see in a lot of cases reported to us by customers. It involves drivers taking too much space on the kernel stack that results in a kernel stack overflow, which will then crash the system with one of the following bugchecks: 1. STOP 0x7F: […]

We would like to talk about a common error that we see in a lot of cases reported to us by customers. It involves drivers taking too much space on the kernel stack that results in a kernel stack overflow, which will then crash the system with one of the following bugchecks:

1. STOP 0x7F: UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP with Parameter 1 set to EXCEPTION_DOUBLE_FAULT, which is caused by running off the end of a kernel stack.

2. STOP 0x1E: KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED, 0x7E: SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED, or 0x8E: KERNEL_MODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED, with an exception code of STATUS_ACCESS_VIOLATION, which indicates a memory access violation.

3. STOP 0x2B: PANIC_STACK_SWITCH, which usually occurs when a kernel-mode driver uses too much stack space.

Kernel Stack Overview: Each thread in the system is allocated with a kernel mode stack. Code running on any kernel-mode thread (whether it is a system thread or a thread created by a driver) uses that thread's kernel-mode stack unless the code is a DPC, in which case it uses the processor's DPC stack on certain platforms.  Stack grows negatively.  This means that the beginning (bottom) of the stack has a higher address than the end (top) of the stack.  For example, let's stay the beginning of your stack is 0x80f1000 and this is where your stack pointer (ESP) is pointing.  If you push a DWORD value onto the stack, its address would be 0x80f0ffc.  The next DWORD value would be stored at 0x80f0ff8 and so on up to the limit (top) of the allocated stack.  The top of the stack is bordered by a guard-page to detect overruns.

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Further reading:

Windows, Kernel, Stack, Kernel Stack, Overflow, Microsoft, Debug, Debugging, Troubleshooting, Knowledgebase