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A20 (Address line 20)

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The 80286 and higher CPUs allow addresses in real mode to extend slightly beyond the one megabyte mark, which causes an incompatibility with some older programs which expect such addresses to wrap back to the beginning of the address space. For complete compatibility with the 8088, newer machines thus contain circuitry which permits the twenty-first address line (A20) to be disabled. The CPU then effectively has only twenty address lines in real mode, just as the 8088 does, and addresses which would extend beyond the one megabyte mark wrap to the beginning of the address space. See also High Memory Area, Real Mode.