Table of contents

Opcode-specific error handling

Issues and fixes for opcode specific error handling.

EVM and its feature upgrades are designed and developed by different people, with different understanding of how the system works. Overtime, inconsistencies in error handling appear. They create confusions for implementors. As a result, when account versioning is deployed, it may also be good to fix those inconsistencies once and for all.

Check Arithmetic Overflow

Proposals: EIP-1051

This cleans up the long-standing issue that arithmetic opcodes in EVM silently warps when overflowing. This has turned out to be a security issue, with known exploit happened in the past.

Consistent copy-to-memory behavior

This section describes a specification, with identifier 47-CPYM. (Discuss)

Some opcodes requires copying data into EVM memory. Overtime, inconsistent behavior appears. Some opcodes will panic if the offset of the data is out of range, while some other opcodes will silently assume that the data is zero. This specification attempts to make it consistent, by changing all opcodes to panic.


Change the behavior of the following opcodes:

  • In CALLDATALOAD, if stack(0) + 32 overflows or is greater than the length of call data, return unrecoverable error.

  • In CALLDATACOPY, if stack(1) + stack(2) overflows or is greater than the legnth of call data, return unrecoverable error.

  • In CODECOPY, if stack(1) + stack(2) overflows or is greater than the length of code, return unrecoverable error.

  • In EXTCODECOPY, if stack(2) + stack(3) overflows or is greater than the length of external code, return unrecoverable error.


This assumes that we have a forward-compatible EVM that is deployed to support unrecoverable error, such as 39-UNGAS.


This specification does not change the behavior of CALL, CALLCODE, DELEGATECALL and STATICCALL, which copy data from return data buffer to memory. It has a specific behavior that the length copied is min(stack(out_len), buffer_len).

Explicit memory growth

This section describes a specification, with identifier 48-GROWM. (Discuss)

Current EVM silently grows memory, whenever a higher region is accessed. While this design does not have apparent downside, it slightly complicates analysis of a program and implementation of EVM, in that the total memory used is implicit. In this specification, we explore ways to use new opcodes GROWMEMORY to make memory growth explicit.


Add opcode GROWMEMORY (0xfd). It pops one item target from the stack. The instruction charges G_BASE and then sets the total available memory size to target. It then charge gas cost according to current rules for memory cost. If target is smaller than the current memory size, the instruction will shrink the memory, but will not refund any gas. If the gas cost charge fails, return out-of-gas error.

Remove checks and charges of memory gas for the following opcodes. Add an additional check for each of them in relation with current memory size, and return unrecoverable error if the check fails.

  • For SHA3, RETURN, REVERT, LOG, check stack(0) + stack(1) ⇐ memory_len.

    stack(2) ⇐ memory_len

  • For EXTCODECOPY, check stack(1) + stack(3) ⇐ memory_len.

  • For MLOAD, MSTORE, check stack(0) + 32 ⇐ memory_len.

  • For MSTORE8, check stack(0) + 1 ⇐ memory_len.

  • For CREATE, CREATE2, check stack(1) + stack(2) ⇐ memory_len.

  • For CALL, CALLCODE, check stack(3) + stack(4) ⇐ memory_len and stack(5) + stack(6) ⇐ memory_len.

  • For DELEGATECALL, STATICCALL, check stack(2) + stack(3) ⇐ memory_len and stack(5) + stack(6) ⇐ memory_len.


Note that after 39-UNGAS, out-of-gas error will be an unrecoverable error.