Explain PE File Format in .NET

Learn: What is PE file format in .Net framework? What are the parts of the PE file format, what are the other formats which support PE file format?
[Last updated : March 26, 2023]

Portable Executable (PE) File Format

PE stands for Portable Executable. Windows executable file (.EXE ) and DLL (Dynamic Link Library) follow the PE file format. This is derivative of the Microsoft Common Object File Format (COFF).

Parts of Portable Executable (PE) File Format

A .NET PE file format consists 4 parts:

  1. PE/COFF headers
  2. CLR header
  3. CLR data
    1. Metadata
    2. MSIL code
  4. Native image section
.Net PE File Format
  • COFF header contains information regarding exe or dll file.
  • CLR header contains information about CLR how to manage memory, other stuffs related to CLR.
  • CLR data contains metadata of ddls and MSIL code generated by compilers.
  • And last part of PE format contains native image section like .data, .rdata, .rsrc, .text etc.

Any compiler that wants to generate Windows executable file must follow the PE/COFF specification.

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