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Intel 80386 Reference Programmer's Manual

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up: Chapter 4 -- Systems Architecture
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4.1 Systems Registers

The registers designed for use by systems programmers fall into these classes:
  • EFLAGS
  • Memory-Management Registers
  • Control Registers
  • Debug Registers
  • Test Registers

4.1.1 Systems Flags

The systems flags of the EFLAGS register control I/O, maskable interrupts, debugging, task switching, and enabling of virtual 8086 execution in a protected, multitasking environment. These flags are highlighted in Figure 4-1 .
IF (Interrupt-Enable Flag, bit 9)
Setting IF allows the CPU to recognize external (maskable) interrupt requests. Clearing IF disables these interrupts. IF has no effect on either exceptions or nonmaskable external interrupts . Refer to Chapter 9 for more details about interrupts .
NT (Nested Task, bit 14)
The processor uses the nested task flag to control chaining of interrupted and called tasks. NT influences the operation of the IRET instruction . Refer to Chapter 7 and Chapter 9 for more information on nested tasks.
RF (Resume Flag, bit 16)
The RF flag temporarily disables debug exceptions so that an instruction can be restarted after a debug exception without immediately causing another debug exception . Refer to Chapter 12 for details .
TF (Trap Flag, bit 8)
Setting TF puts the processor into single-step mode for debugging. In this mode, the CPU automatically generates an exception after each instruction, allowing a program to be inspected as it executes each instruction. Single-stepping is just one of several debugging features of the 80386 . Refer to Chapter 12 for additional information .
VM (Virtual 8086 Mode, bit 17)
When set, the VM flag indicates that the task is executing an 8086 program . Refer to Chapter 14 for a detailed discussion of how the 80386 executes 8086 tasks in a protected, multitasking environment.

4.1.2 Memory-Management Registers

Four registers of the 80386 locate the data structures that control segmented memory management:
GDTR Global Descriptor Table Register
LDTR Local Descriptor Table Register
These registers point to the segment descriptor tables GDT and LDT. Refer to Chapter 5 for an explanation of addressing via descriptor tables.
IDTR Interrupt Descriptor Table Register
This register points to a table of entry points for interrupt handlers (the IDT ) . Refer to Chapter 9 for details of the interrupt mechanism .
TR Task Register
This register points to the information needed by the processor to define the current task . Refer to Chapter 7 for a description of the multitasking features of the 80386.

4.1.3 Control Registers

Figure 4-2 shows the format of the 80386 control registers CR0, CR2, and CR3. These registers are accessible to systems programmers only via variants of the MOV instruction, which allow them to be loaded from or stored in general registers; for example:
MOV EAX, CR0
MOV CR3, EBX
CR0 contains system control flags, which control or indicate conditions that apply to the system as a whole, not to an individual task.
EM (Emulation, bit 2)
EM indicates whether coprocessor functions are to be emulated. Refer to Chapter 11 for details .
ET (Extension Type, bit 4)
ET indicates the type of coprocessor present in the system (80287 or 80387 ) . Refer to Chapter 11 and Chapter 10 for details.
MP (Math Present, bit 1)
MP controls the function of the WAIT instruction, which is used to coordinate a coprocessor . Refer to Chapter 11 for details .
PE (Protection Enable, bit 0)
Setting PE causes the processor to begin executing in protected mode. Resetting PE returns to real-address mode . Refer to Chapter 14 and Chapter 10 for more information on changing processor modes .
PG (Paging, bit 31)
PG indicates whether the processor uses page tables to translate linear addresses into physical addresses . Refer to Chapter 5 for a description of page translation; refer to Chapter 10 for a discussion of how to set PG.
TS (Task Switched, bit 3)
The processor sets TS with every task switch and tests TS when interpreting coprocessor instructions . Refer to Chapter 11 for details .
CR2 is used for handling page faults when PG is set. The processor stores in CR2 the linear address that triggers the fault . Refer to Chapter 9 for a description of page-fault handling.

CR3 is used when PG is set. CR3 enables the processor to locate the page table directory for the current task . Refer to Chapter 5 for a description of page tables and page translation.

4.1.4 Debug Register

The debug registers bring advanced debugging abilities to the 80386, including data breakpoints and the ability to set instruction breakpoints without modifying code segments . Refer to Chapter 12 for a complete description of formats and usage.

4.1.5 Test Registers

The test registers are not a standard part of the 80386 architecture. They are provided solely to enable confidence testing of the translation lookaside buffer (TLB), the cache used for storing information from page tables . Chapter 12 explains how to use these registers .


up: Chapter 4 -- Systems Architecture
prev: Chapter 4 -- Systems Architecture
next: 4.2 Systems Instructions