as assembles source files written for a specific architecture into object files for that architecture. But not all object files are alike. Many architectures support incompatible variations. For instance, floating point arguments might be passed in floating point registers if the object file requires hardware floating point support—or floating point arguments might be passed in integer registers if the object file supports processors with no hardware floating point unit. Or, if two objects are built for different generations of the same architecture, the combination may require the newer generation at run-time.
This information is useful during and after linking. At link time, ld can warn about incompatible object files. After link time, tools like gdb can use it to process the linked file correctly.
Compatibility information is recorded as a series of object attributes. Each attribute has a vendor, tag, and value. The vendor is a string, and indicates who sets the meaning of the tag. The tag is an integer, and indicates what property the attribute describes. The value may be a string or an integer, and indicates how the property affects this object. Missing attributes are the same as attributes with a zero value or empty string value.
Object attributes were developed as part of the ABI for the ARM Architecture. The file format is documented in ELF for the ARM Architecture.