Summary
Addressing modes are an aspect of the instruction set architecture in most central processing unit (CPU) designs. The various addressing modes that are defined in a given instruction set architecture define how the machine language instructions in that architecture identify the operand(s) of each instruction. An addressing mode specifies how to calculate the effective memory address of an operand by using information held in registers and/or constants contained within a machine instruction or elsewhere. In computer programming, addressing modes are primarily of interest to those who write in assembly languages and to compiler writers. For a related concept see orthogonal instruction set which deals with the ability of any instruction to use any addressing mode. There are no generally accepted names for addressing modes: different authors and computer manufacturers may give different names to the same addressing mode, or the same names to different addressing modes. Furthermore, an addressing mode which, in one given architecture, is treated as a single addressing mode may represent functionality that, in another architecture, is covered by two or more addressing modes. For example, some complex instruction set computer (CISC) architectures, such as the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VAX, treat registers and literal or immediate constants as just another addressing mode. Others, such as the IBM System/360 and its successors, and most reduced instruction set computer (RISC) designs, encode this information within the instruction. Thus, the latter machines have three distinct instruction codes for copying one register to another, copying a literal constant into a register, and copying the contents of a memory location into a register, while the VAX has only a single "MOV" instruction. The term "addressing mode" is itself subject to different interpretations: either "memory address calculation mode" or "operand accessing mode".
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