Assembling for a mips ecoff target supports some additional sections besides the usual .text, .data and .bss. The additional sections are .rdata, used for read-only data, .sdata, used for small data, and .sbss, used for small common objects.
When assembling for ecoff, the assembler uses the $gp ($28) register to form the address of a "small object". Any object in the .sdata or .sbss sections is considered "small" in this sense. For external objects, or for objects in the .bss section, you can use the gcc -G option to control the size of objects addressed via $gp; the default value is 8, meaning that a reference to any object eight bytes or smaller uses $gp. Passing -G 0 to as prevents it from using the $gp register on the basis of object size (but the assembler uses $gp for objects in .sdata or sbss in any case). The size of an object in the .bss section is set by the .comm or .lcomm directive that defines it. The size of an external object may be set with the .extern directive. For example, .extern sym,4 declares that the object at sym is 4 bytes in length, whie leaving sym otherwise undefined.
Using small ecoff objects requires linker support, and assumes that the $gp register is correctly initialized (normally done automatically by the startup code). mips ecoff assembly code must not modify the $gp register.