Contiguous Memory Allocation

Last Updated: February 24, 2017

Definition - What does Contiguous Memory Allocation mean?

Contiguous memory allocation is a classical memory allocation model that assigns a process consecutive memory blocks (that is, memory blocks having consecutive addresses).

Contiguous memory allocation is one of the oldest memory allocation schemes. When a process needs to execute, memory is requested by the process. The size of the process is compared with the amount of contiguous main memory available to execute the process. If sufficient contiguous memory is found, the process is allocated memory to start its execution. Otherwise, it is added to a queue of waiting processes until sufficient free contiguous memory is available.

Techopedia explains Contiguous Memory Allocation

The contiguous memory allocation scheme can be implemented in operating systems with the help of two registers, known as the base and limit registers. When a process is executing in main memory, its base register contains the starting address of the memory location where the process is executing, while the amount of bytes consumed by the process is stored in the limit register. A process does not directly refer to the actual address for a corresponding memory location. Instead, it uses a relative address with respect to its base register. All addresses referred by a program are considered as virtual addresses. The CPU generates the logical or virtual address, which is converted into an actual address with the help of the memory management unit (MMU). The base address register is used for address translation by the MMU. Thus, a physical address is calculated as follows:

    Physical Address = Base register address + Logical address/Virtual address

The address of any memory location referenced by a process is checked to ensure that it does not refer to an address of a neighboring process. This processing security is handled by the underlying operating system.

One disadvantage of contiguous memory allocation is that the degree of multiprogramming is reduced due to processes waiting for free memory.

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