Mike Schaeffer's Blog

January 23, 2006

I've recently spent some time experimenting with the CallNtPowerInformation Win32 API call. If you are not familiar with this call, it's a Windows NT specific call that provides access to the power management related features of the OS. Among other things, it allows the current CPU frequency and battery charge to be retrieved. Like many other Win32 API's, CallNtPowerInformation has a very general prototype (notice the two LPVOID's for input and output):

NTSTATUS CallNtPowerInformation(
  PVOID lpInputBuffer,
  ULONG nInputBufferSize,
  PVOID lpOutputBuffer,
  ULONG nOutputBufferSize

To use CallNtPowerInformation, the InformationLevel argument specifies one of a number of different possible function codes. Some of these update power management settings, some retrieve current settings, and some retrieve system status values. Based on the function code, you provide input and output arguments via standard structures passed in via lpInputBuffer and lpOutputBuffer.

Where things might start to get odd is when you try to use the ProcessorInformation information level. This information level requires an output buffer of type PROCESSOR_POWER_INFORMATION. However, quoting from the MSDN documentation: "Note that this structure definition was accidentally omitted from Winnt.h. This error will be corrected in the future. In the meantime, to compile your application, include the structure definition contained in this topic in your source code." Peachy.

Being the dilligant programmer I know you are, you will, of course, want to check your return value when you call this function. Believe it or not, things are still wierd. To get the definition of the NTSTATUS typedef, you need to include winternl.h. To get the complete set of return codes, you need to include ntstatus.h. However, if you include both ntstatus.h and windows.h you get warnings about duplicate preprocessor definitions. This is because some of these constants are defined in both header files. To solve this little problem, you need to define WIN32_NO_STATUS before including windows.h and undefine it before including ntstatus.h. This tells windows.h not to define return codes and reenables return code definition for ntstatus.h.

The next problem you're likely to face is the fact that your program fails to link. This is because the powrprof.h does not explicitly specify C function linkage. If you include the header file unadorned in a C++ program, it'll assume C++ linkage, and try to call the API with a mangled name. This does not work, so you're forced to explicltly specify C linkage for the include file. The net result of all these complications might well end up looking like so:

#define WIN32_NO_STATUS
#include <windows.h>
#undef WIN32_NO_STATUS

#include <ntstatus.h>
#include <winnt.h>

extern "C" {
   #include <powrprof.h>

#include <winternl.h>

I'm not honestly sure why this had to be quite this complicated...