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The Linux Kernel reserves two zones of virtual memory:
  • one for kernel memory
  • one for programs
The exact split is configured by CONFIG_VMSPLIT_.... By default:
  • on 32-bit:
    • the bottom 3/4 is program space: 00000000 to BFFFFFFF
    • the top 1/4 is kernel memory: C0000000 to FFFFFFFF, like this:
      ------------------ FFFFFFFF
      Kernel
      ------------------ C0000000
      ------------------ BFFFFFFF
      
      
      Process
      
      
      ------------------ 00000000
  • on 64-bit: currently only 48-bits are actually used, split into two equally sized disjoint spaces. The Linux kernel just assigns:
    • the bottom part to processes 00000000 00000000 to 008FFFFF FFFFFFFF
    • the top part to the kernel: FFFF8000 00000000 to FFFFFFFF FFFFFFFF, like this:
      ------------------ FFFFFFFF
      Kernel
      ------------------ C0000000
      
      
      (not addressable)
      
      
      ------------------ BFFFFFFF
      Process
      ------------------ 00000000
Kernel memory is also paged.

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