Browse Definitions :
Definition

context switch

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

A context switch is a procedure that a computer's CPU (central processing unit) follows to change from one task (or process) to another while ensuring that the tasks do not conflict. Effective context switching is critical if a computer is to provide user-friendly multitasking.

In a CPU, the term "context" refers to the data in the registers and program counter at a specific moment in time. A register holds the current CPU instruction. A program counter, also known as an instruction address register, is a small amount of fast memory that holds the address of the instruction to be executed immediately after the current one.

A context switch can be performed entirely in hardware (physical media). Older CPUs, such as those in the x86 series, do it that way. However, most modern CPUs perform context switches by means of software (programming). A modern CPU can perform hundreds of context switches per second. Therefore, the user gets the impression that the computer is performing multiple tasks in a parallel fashion, when the CPU actually alternates or rotates between or among the tasks at a high rate of speed.

 

Continue reading about context switching:

OSDev.org offers a concise explanation of how context switching works.

This was last updated in April 2012

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Property is the platform for both vendor and customer. Vendor can publish their product/service on the portal where customer can search for the service or product and can contact vendor directly. Main motto of Just Rental is to provide the platform where customer and vendor can meet and get the best rented product at best price. 

Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • computer worm

    A computer worm is a type of malicious software program whose primary function is to infect other computers while remaining ...

  • Single Sign-On (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials (e.g., ...

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

    Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is a certification issued by ISACA to people in charge of ensuring that an ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • disaster recovery team

    A disaster recovery team is a group of individuals focused on planning, implementing, maintaining, auditing and testing an ...

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

SearchStorage

  • VRAM (video RAM)

    VRAM (video RAM) is a reference to any type of random access memory (RAM) used to store image data for a computer display.

  • Kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta and all that

    Kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta are among the list of prefixes used to denote the quantity of something, such as a byte ...

  • flash memory

    Flash memory, also known as flash storage, is a type of nonvolatile memory that erases data in units called blocks.

Close