interrupt

interrupt. (1) The suspension of a process to handle an event external to the process. (2) A technique to notify the CPU that a peripheral device needs service, i.e., the device has data for the processor or the device is awaiting data from the processor. The device sends a signal, called an interrupt, to the processor. The processor interrupts its current program, stores its current operating conditions, and executes a program to service the device sending the interrupt. After the device is serviced, the processor restores its previous operating conditions and continues executing the interrupted program. A method for handling constantly changing data. Contrast with polling.

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