Assuring Write Safety for Other Parameters

You might run into a situation in which you need write access to a parameter that's retrieved with zend_get_parameters_ex() but not passed by reference. For this case, you can use the macro SEPARATE_ZVAL, which does a zval separation on the provided container. The newly generated zval is detached from internal data and has only a local scope, meaning that it can be changed or destroyed without implying global changes in the script context:
zval **parameter;
/* retrieve parameter */
zend_get_parameters_ex(1, &parameter);

/* at this stage, <parameter> still is connected */
/* to Zend's internal data buffers */

/* make <parameter> write-safe */

/* now we can safely modify <parameter> */
/* without implying global changes */
SEPARATE_ZVAL uses emalloc() to allocate the new zval container, which means that even if you don't deallocate this memory yourself, it will be destroyed automatically upon script termination. However, doing a lot of calls to this macro without freeing the resulting containers will clutter up your RAM.

Note: As you can easily work around the lack of write access in the "traditional" API (with zend_get_parameters() and so on), this API seems to be obsolete, and is not discussed further in this chapter.