IO Ports

Each device connected to the I/O bus has its own set of I/O addresses, which are usually called I/O ports. In the IBM PC architecture, the I/O address space provides up to 65,536 8bit I/O ports. Two consecutive 8-bit ports may be regarded as a single 16-bit port, which must start on an even address. Similarly, two consecutive 16-bit ports may be regarded as a single 32-bit port, which must start on an address that is a multiple of 4. Four special assembly language instructions called in, ins, out, and outs allow the CPU to read from and write into an I/O port. While executing one of these instructions, the CPU uses the address bus to select the required I/O port and of the data bus to transfer data between a CPU register and the port.

I/O ports may also be mapped into addresses of the physical address space. The processor is then able to communicate with an I/O device by issuing assembly language instructions that operate directly on memory (for instance, mov, and, or, and so on). Modern hardware devices are more suited to mapped I/O, since it is faster and can be combined with DMA.

An important objective for system designers is to offer a unified approach to I/O programming without sacrificing performance. Toward that end, the I/O ports of each device are structured into a set of specialized registers, as shown in Figure 13-2. The CPU writes the commands to be sent to the device into the control register and reads a value that represents the internal state of the device from the status register. The CPU also fetches data from the device by reading bytes from the input register and pushes data to the device by writing bytes into the output register.

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