Browse Definitions :
Definition

interrupt

An interrupt is a signal from a device attached to a computer or from a program within the computer that requires the operating system to stop and figure out what to do next. Almost all personal (or larger) computers today are interrupt-driven - that is, they start down the list of computer instructions in one program (perhaps an application such as a word processor) and keep running the instructions until either (A) they can't go any further or (B) an interrupt signal is sensed. After the interrupt signal is sensed, the computer either resumes running the current program or begins running another program.

Basically, a single computer can perform only one computer instruction at a time. But, because it can be interrupted, it can take turns in which programs or sets of instructions that it performs. This is known as multitasking. It allows the user to do a number of different things at the same time. The computer simply takes turns managing the programs that the user starts. Of course, the computer operates at speeds that make it seem as though all of the user's tasks are being performed at the same time. (The computer's operating system is good at using little pauses in operations and user think time to work on other programs.)

An operating system usually has some code that is called an interrupt handler. The interrupt handler prioritizes the interrupts and saves them in a queue if more than one is waiting to be handled. The operating system has another little program, sometimes called a scheduler, that figures out which program to give control to next.

In general, there are hardware interrupts and software interrupts. A hardware interrupt occurs, for example, when an I/O operation is completed such as reading some data into the computer from a tape drive. A software interrupt occurs when an application program terminates or requests certain services from the operating system. In a personal computer, a hardware interrupt request (IRQ) has a value that associates it with a particular device.

Watch a brief tutorial on interrupts and I/O:

This was last updated in December 2016

Continue Reading About interrupt

Join the conversation

2 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

i like ur knowledge
Cancel
I have often wondered in the past 50 years about what interrupts were, and it was indeed a pleasure to have at least one layer of mental cloud lifted by viewing such a concise explanation given by Dr. Murphy.  All very sensible, with flowchart examples of how they all work.  It was indeed a relief to have a simple and concise explanation.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance as a service (CaaS)

    Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is a cloud service service level agreement (SLA) that specified how a managed service provider (...

  • data protection impact assessment (DPIA)

    A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) is a process designed to help organizations determine how data processing systems, ...

SearchSecurity

  • quantum key distribution (QKD)

    Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method for exchanging encryption keys only known between shared parties.

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • disaster recovery plan (DRP)

    A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented, structured approach that describes how an organization can quickly resume work ...

  • 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 ...

SearchStorage

  • logical unit number (LUN)

    A logical unit number (LUN) is a unique identifier for designating an individual or collection of physical or virtual storage ...

  • NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF)

    NVMe over Fabrics, also known as NVMe-oF and non-volatile memory express over fabrics, is a protocol specification designed to ...

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

Close