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|Microprocessor modes for the x86 architecture|
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Real mode, also called real address mode, is an operating mode of all x86-compatible CPUs. The mode gets its name from the fact that addresses in real mode always correspond to real locations in memory. Real mode is characterized by a 20-bit segmented memory address space (giving exactly 1 MB of addressable memory) and unlimited direct software access to all addressable memory, I/O addresses and peripheral hardware. Real mode provides no support for memory protection, multitasking, or code privilege levels.
Before the release of the 80286, which introduced protected mode, real mode was the only available mode for x86 CPUs; and for backward compatibility, all x86 CPUs start in real mode when reset, though it is possible to emulate real mode on other systems when starting on other modes.