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Segment Registers

Published on Oct 20 2009 // 8086 Details

Most of the registers contain data/instruction offsets within 64 KB memory segment. There are four different 64 KB segments for instructions, stack, data and extra data. To specify where in 1 MB of processor memory these 4 segments are located the processor uses four segment registers.

Segment Registers

Code segment (CS) is a 16-bit register containing address of 64 KB segment with processor instructions. The processor uses CS segment for all accesses to instructions referenced by instruction pointer (IP) register. CS register cannot be changed directly. The CS register is automatically updated during far jump, far call and far return instructions.

Stack segment (SS) is a 16-bit register containing address of 64KB segment with program stack. By default, the processor assumes that all data referenced by the stack pointer (SP) and base pointer (BP) registers is located in the stack segment. SS register can be changed directly using POP instruction.

Data segment (DS) is a 16-bit register containing address of 64KB segment with program data. By default, the processor assumes that all data referenced by general registers (AX, BX, CX, DX) and index register (SI, DI) is located in the data segment. DS register can be changed directly using POP and LDS instructions.

Extra segment (ES) used to hold the starting address of Extra segment. Extra segment is provided for programs that need to access a second data segment. Segment registers cannot be used in arithmetic operations.