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

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • payload (computing)

    In computing, a payload is the carrying capacity of a packet or other transmission data unit. The term has its roots in the ...

  • passphrase

    A passphrase is a string of characters longer than the usual password (which is typically from four to 16 characters long) that ...

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

    A Web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that monitors, filters or blocks traffic to and from a Web application. WAFs are ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • computational storage

    Computational storage is defined as an architecture that couples compute with storage in order to reduce data movement. In doing ...

  • data deduplication

    Data deduplication -- often called intelligent compression or single-instance storage -- is a process that eliminates redundant ...

  • public cloud storage

    Public cloud storage, also called storage-as-a-service or online storage is a service model that provides data storage on a ...

Close