Stack Pointer


A ‘stack’ is a small area of reserved memory used to store the data in the CPU’s registers when: (1) system calls are made by a process to operating system routines; (2) when hardware interrupts generated by input/output (I/O) transactions on peripheral devices; (3) when a process initiates an I/O transfer; (3) when a process rescheduling event occurs on foot of a hardware timer interrupt. This transfer of register contents is called a ‘context switch’. The stack pointer is the register which holds the address of the most recent ‘stack’ entry. Hence, when a system call is made by a process (to say print a document) and its context is stored on the stack, the called system routine uses the stack pointer to reload the register contents when it is finished printing. Thus the process can continue where it left off.

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