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Operating systems provide a mechanism for selectively calling certain functions in the kernel. These select functions are called kernel calls or system calls, and act as gateways into the kernel. These gateways are carefully designed to provide safe functionality. They carefully check their parameters and understand how to move data from a user process into the kernel and back again. We will discuss this topic in more detail in the Memory Management section of the course.

The path in and out of the kernel

The only way to enter the operating kernel is to generate a processor interrupt. Note the emphasis on the word "only". These interrupts come from several sources:

  • I/O devices: When a device, such as a disk or network interface, completes its current operation, it notifies the operating system by generating a processor interrupt.
  • Clocks and timers: Processors have timers that can be periodic (interrupting on a fixed interval) or count-down (set to complete at some specific time in the future). Periodic timers are often used to trigger scheduling decisions. For either of these types of timers, an interrupt is generated to get the operating system's attention.
  • Exceptions: When an instruction performs an invalid operation, such as divide-by-zero, invalid memory address, or floating point overflow, the processor can generate an interrupt.
  • Software Interrupts (Traps): Processors provide one or more instructions that will cause the processor to generate an interrupt. These instructions often have a small integer parameter. Trap instructions are most often used to implement system calls and to be inserted into a process by a debugger to stop the process at a breakpoint.

The flow of control is as follows (and illustrated below):

  1. The general path goes from the executing user process to the interrupt handler. This step is like a forced function call, where the current PC and processor status are saved on a stack.
  2. The interrupt handler decides what type of interrupt was generated and calls the appropriate kernel function to handle the interrupt.
  3. The general run-time state of the process is saved (as on a context switch).
  4. The kernel performs the appropriate operation for the system call. This step is the "real" functionality; all the steps before and after this one are mechanisms to get here from the user call and back again.
  5. if the operation that was performed was trivial and fast, then the kernel returns immediately to the interrupted process. Otherwise, sometime later (it might be much later), after the operation is complete, the kernel executes its short-term scheduler (dispatcher) to pick the next process to run.

Note that one side effect of an interrupt might be to terminate the currently running process. In this case, of course, the current process will never be chosen to run next!

  1. The state for the selected process is loaded into the registers and control is transferred to the process using some type of "return from interrupt" instruction.

The system call path

One of the most important uses of interrupts, and one of the least obvious when you first study about operating systems, is the system call. In your program, you might request a UNIX system to read some data from a file with a call that looks like:

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
learn
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
learn
Google
da
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Bhagvanji
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
revolt
da
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
Alexandre
nanocopper obvius
Alexandre
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Operating systems. OpenStax CNX. Aug 13, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10785/1.2
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