#1,082 – Big-endian and Little-endian

The terms “big-endian” and “little-endian” refer to the scheme that a computer uses to store binary data in memory.  The basic difference is:

  • Big-endian (e.g. IBM mainframes, Motorola 68000) – leftmost byte is stored first, followed by other bytes, left-right.  (“Big end” of number stored first)
  • Little-endian (e.g. Intel processors) – rightmost byte is stored first, followed by other bytes, right-left.  (“Little end” of number stored first)

Below is an example.  Assume that have a 4-byte (32-bit) number with a value of 0x1234ABCD (hex).  The diagram below shows how this number would be stored in a 4-byte chunk of memory, based on whether the processor uses the big-endian or the little-endian convention.

1082-001

 

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About Sean
Software developer in the Twin Cities area, passionate about .NET technologies. Equally passionate about my own personal projects related to family history and preservation of family stories and photos.

3 Responses to #1,082 – Big-endian and Little-endian

  1. James Curran says:

    I wrote an article on the subject of Big Endian & Little endian some time ago:

    http://noveltheory.com/TechPapers/TechFrame.html#endian

  2. Pingback: #1,083 – Using Visual Studio to Verify Little-Endianness | 2,000 Things You Should Know About C#

  3. Pingback: #1,090 – Using Visual Studio to Verify How Floating Point Numbers Are Stored | 2,000 Things You Should Know About C#

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