Context (computing)

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In computer science, a task context (process, thread ...) is the minimal set of data used by this task that must be saved to allow a task interruption at a given date, and a continuation of this task at the point it has been interrupted and at an arbitrary future date. The concept of context assumes significance in the case of interruptible tasks, wherein upon being interrupted the processor saves the context and proceeds to serve the Interrupt service routine. Thus the smaller the context the smaller is the latency. These data are located in:

  • Processor registers
  • Memory used by the task
  • On some operating systems, control registers used by the system to manage the task

The storage memory (files) is not concerned by the "task context" in the case of a context switch; even if this can be stored for some uses (checkpointing).