Contiguous Memory Allocation

The memory is usually divided into two partitions: one for the resident operating system and one for the user processes. We can place the operating system in either low memory or high memory. The major factor affecting this decision is the location of the interrupt vector. Since the interrupt vector is often in low memory, programmers usually place the operating system in low memory as well

We usually want several user processes to reside in memory at the same time. We therefore need to consider how to allocate available memory to the processes that are in the input queue waiting to be brought into memory. In contiguous memory allocation, each process is contained in a single section of memory that is contiguous to the section containing the next process

Memory Protection

When the CPU scheduler selects a process for execution, the dispatcher loads the relocation and limit registers with the correct values as part of the context switch. Because every address generated by a CPU is checked against these registers, we can protect both the operating system and the other users’ programs and data from being modified by this running process

The relocation-register scheme provides an effective way to allow the operating system’s size to change dynamically. This flexibility is desirable in many situations. For example, the operating system contains code and buffer space for device drivers. If a device driver (or other operating-system service) is not commonly used, we do not want to keep the code and data in memory, as we might be able to use that space for other purposes. Such code is sometimes called transient operating-system code; it comes and goes as needed. Thus, using this code changes the size of the operating system during program execution

Memory Allocation

memory allocation one of the simplest methods for allocating memory is to divide memory into several fixed-sized partitions. Each partition may contain exactly one process. Thus, the degree of multiprogramming is bound by the number of partitions. In this multiple partition method, when a partition is free, a process is selected from the input queue and is loaded into the free partition.

When the process terminates, the partition becomes available for another process. This method was originally used by the IBM OS/360 operating system (called MFT)but is no longer in use. The method described next is a generalization of the fixed-partition scheme (called MVT); it is used primarily in batch environments. Many of the ideas presented here are also applicable to a time-sharing environment in which pure segmentation is used for memory management

In the variable-partition scheme, the operating system keeps a table indicating which parts of memory are available and which are occupied. Initially, all memory is available for user processes and is considered one large block of available memory, a hole.


Memory fragmentation can be internal as well as external. Consider a multiple-partition allocation scheme with a hole of 18,464 bytes. Suppose that the next process requests 18,462 bytes. If we allocate exactly the requested block, we are left with a hole of 2 bytes. The overhead to keep track of this hole will be substantially larger than the hole itself. The general approach to avoiding this problem is to break the physical memory into fixed-sized blocks and allocate memory in units based on block size. With this approach, the memory allocated to a process may be slightly larger than the requested memory. The difference between these two numbers is internal fragmentation—unused memory that is internal to a partition.

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