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Protected mode is an operational mode of the Intel 80286-compatible CPU. It permits system software to use features such as virtual memory, paging and safe multi-tasking. It is also designed to increase the OS's control over application software.
This term is also known as protected virtual address mode.
Protected mode was incorporated into Intel’s x86 architecture in early 1982. It then evolved into a basic foundation for all further Intel x86 architectures. The initial versions did not permit a switch back to real mode or enabling the protected mode. However, an option was provided to save the stack pointers, registers and interrupt mask in RAM through a keyboard controller. Later, with the advent of the 386 processor, protected mode could be enabled easily, eliminating complex steps involved in the 286 architecture, which did not have any internal mechanism to exit the protected mode.Protected mode provides several features to enhance system stability and security. These features are: