Internal Interrupt


An internal interrupt, also known as a software interrupt, is a signal generated within a computer system that temporarily halts its normal operation to perform a specific task or respond to a specific event. This type of interrupt is typically initiated by the system’s software or firmware, rather than an external hardware component. Examples of internal interrupts include system calls and exceptions, which help manage processes, system resources, and error handling.


In phonetic alphabet, the keyword “Internal Interrupt” is represented as:ˌɪn.tɚˈnæl ˌɪn.təˈrəpt

Key Takeaways

  1. Internal Interrupts are triggered by events that occur within the processor, such as divide-by-zero errors or illegal opcode execution.
  2. These interrupts help in detecting and resolving errors, allowing the processor to handle exceptional situations in a controlled manner, and preventing system crashes or unwanted software behavior.
  3. Unlike external interrupts, which are caused by external devices, internal interrupts are independent of external factors and depend solely on the program’s execution flow.


Internal interrupts play a vital role in the effective functioning of computer systems by ensuring timely communication and smooth execution of tasks.

They are automatic, processor-initiated signals that temporarily halt a program’s execution to allow the processor to address urgent events, such as hardware issues or system errors.

This rapid response enables efficient resource management and higher system stability, as it resolves conflicts before they escalate, prevents data loss, and optimizes the overall performance of the system.

In sum, internal interrupts are essential components in the seamless operation of modern technology, as they maintain the integrity of running processes while adapting to unforeseen circumstances.


Internal interrupts serve as an essential mechanism in the realm of computer systems, ensuring that vital processes and tasks are executed efficiently and reliably. The core purpose of internal interrupts is to enable a computer’s CPU to address high-priority tasks or events instantaneously, often pausing the execution of an existing task or process.

By leveraging this functionality, a computer can maintain optimal performance, swiftly allocate resources, and protect system integrity in real-time. For example, internal interrupts help manage operation synchronization, ensuring that tasks do not conflict with one another and result in system failure or data corruption.

In practice, the internal interrupt is generated by the computer’s own hardware, which is often triggered by events like invalid memory accesses, minor hardware faults, or the completion of input/output operations. By swiftly responding to these occurrences, the CPU is able to isolate a specific component in the system, carry out an appropriate action to resolve the issue, and continue processing in an orderly fashion.

Ultimately, internal interrupts bolster a computer’s robustness, allowing it to maintain smooth, efficient operations by preemptively tackling potential issues and seamlessly managing real-time events.

Examples of Internal Interrupt

Internal interrupts are triggered within a computer system when specific events occur, mainly to signal changes or errors that require immediate attention. Here are three real-world examples of internal interrupts:

Division by Zero Error: When performing calculations, if a CPU encounters a division by zero operation, it will generate an internal interrupt. This interrupt informs the operating system that a mathematical error has occurred, allowing the OS to handle the situation and prevent potential system crashes or erroneous results.

Illegal Instruction Detection: An illegal instruction is a command that the CPU cannot execute due to its invalidity or lack of support within the hardware. When the CPU finds an illegal instruction while executing a program, an internal interrupt is generated. The OS receives the signal and responds accordingly, such as terminating the program or displaying an error message to the user.

Memory Access Violation: A memory access violation occurs when a program attempts to access a memory location that it does not have permission to use, either because it is outside the program’s allocated memory space or because the area is designated as read-only. In such cases, an internal interrupt is triggered to inform the operating system of the unauthorized access attempt. The OS can then take appropriate action, such as terminating the offending program or displaying a warning message.

Internal Interrupt FAQ

What is an Internal Interrupt?

An internal interrupt, also known as a software interrupt, is a type of interrupt that is generated by the CPU executing a specific instruction within a program, as opposed to an external interrupt triggered by an external hardware event. Internal interrupts are commonly used for implementing system calls or handling errors and exceptions.

What are some examples of Internal Interrupts?

Some examples of internal interrupts include Division by Zero, executing an illegal instruction, input/output system calls, and page fault exceptions. All of these cases involve the CPU detecting an event requiring special handling while executing program instructions.

How does an Internal Interrupt differ from an External Interrupt?

As compared to external interrupts, internal interrupts are initiated by software while external interrupts are initiated by hardware devices. Internal interrupts are generated by the CPU when it comes across a specific instruction within a program, whereas external interrupts are produced by external hardware devices like keyboards, mice, or network cards that need the CPU’s attention.

How does a CPU handle an Internal Interrupt?

When a CPU encounters an internal interrupt, it generally stops executing the current instruction, saves the current state of the program, and jumps to an interrupt handler (a specific routine in the operating system’s kernel) that deals with the root cause of the interrupt. Once the interrupt is handled, the CPU typically resumes the interrupted program from where it left off, restoring its original state.

What is the purpose of using Internal Interrupts?

Internal interrupts are used to improve the efficiency of the CPU and to handle errors or exceptions arising during the execution of a program. They allow the operating system to manage processes and resources efficiently, and can help prevent crashes and unstable system behavior resulting from unpredictable events, such as division by zero or illegal instructions.

Related Technology Terms

  • Interrupt Vector Table
  • Interrupt Service Routine (ISR)
  • Interrupt Request Line (IRQ)
  • Programmable Interrupt Controller (PIC)
  • Interrupt Mask Register (IMR)

Sources for More Information

  • Guru99 –
  • Electronics Tutorials –
  • Tutorials Point –
  • GeeksforGeeks –

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