mode bit

mode bit

A flag, usually in hardware, that selects between two (usually quite different) modes of operation. The connotations are different from flag bit in that mode bits are mainly written during a boot or set-up phase, are seldom explicitly read, and seldom change over the lifetime of an ordinary program. The classic example was the EBCDIC-vs.-ASCII bit (#12) of the Program Status Word of the IBM 360. Another was the bit on a PDP-12 that controlled whether it ran the PDP-8 or the LINC instruction set.
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Software selects these modes by setting one (and only one) of the three power-saving mode bits.
For example, as part of the OS loading/start-up process, one of the power-saving modes is selected by setting the appropriate power management mode bits.