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Essential .NET, Volume 1: The Common Language Runtime by Chris Sells, Don Box

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Modes of Execution

The previous discussion regarding explicit access to memory illustrates how rich the CLR type system and instruction set are. The availability of managed and unmanaged pointers allows programs to gain efficient access to memory without sacrificing the services of the CLR. It is now time to turn our attention to exactly how the CLR supports those services and when (and why) one may need to bypass those services.

The CLR is based on a simple premise—that is, that the CLR is omniscient and omnipotent. The CLR needs the ability to know everything about a running program. This is one more reason why metadata is so important, because metadata is the key to the CLR's understanding the relationships between objects and values in memory. ...

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