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What's an endian?

The terms big endian and little endian were originally borrowed from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (dean of St Patrick´s Cathedral in Dublin btw), but are now used in computer science.

A computer's endian-ness defines in what way it stores data internally. Some processors store data with the high byte first (Big Endian), while others put it last (Little Endian). Some seem to mix and match (Middle Endian) while others still can switch between different endian-modes (Bi Endian). Ok, now I have probably confused you enough. Let's look at what the dictionaries say.

Techweb's dictionary defines Big Endian this way:

'The order of bytes in a word in which the most significant byte or digits are placed leftmost in the structure. This is the way humans deal with normal arithmetic. However, some CPUs are built using the little endian method, which is just the opposite and places the least significant digits on the left. Since numbers are calculated by the CPU starting with the least significant digits, little endian numbers are already set up for the required processing order.

A bi-endian machine, such as the PowerPC, is built to handle both types of byte ordering.
In the following example, the decimal number 23,041 (equivalent to 5A01 in hexadecimal) is shown in the big endian byte order and little endian byte order.'

      Big endian         Little endian
      (Motorola 680x0)   (Intel x86)
      5A01               015A

Other Endian definitions

Techweb:Byte Order

Jargon:Big Endian  Jargon:Middle Endian  Jargon:Little Endian

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

DAV's Endian FAQ (On holy wars and a plea for peace)

Some chips

      Chip              Endian-ness
      Motorola 680x0    Big
      Intel x86         Little
      Alpha             Bi
      PowerPC           Bi

The site covers high speed chips and operating systems regardless of endian-ness.

It is run by myself (Kenneth Ekman) and is not affiliated to any company or organization. Any opinions expressed are my own and does not represent any one else's views (except in rare cases when they happen to coincide). I graduated from the University of Linköping in 1993 and have worked in the telecom industry since.

The site also works as a test bed lab rat for various ASP/XML/SQL/HTML/CSS/XHTML/PHP/WML/WAP etc.. experiments.

All information is gathered from magazines and news sites and is given as-is. All content copyrights © belong to Kenneth Ekman except where otherwise indicated.


A Edlund

No non-disclosure agreements were killed in the making of this site.

You are welcome to contribute Mozilla Search-plugin Semi

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0NaN-NaN-NaN Added a RSS-feed for the roadmap section while the RSS-feed for the news section is updated. Still in beta-stage. Comments welcome.

0NaN-NaN-NaN Now editing the site from a 3GHz P4 with a Radeon 9800 Pro instead of my old steam-driven (450 MHz) PC... :)

0NaN-NaN-NaN Added Google ads to the site.

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0NaN-NaN-NaN Updated the newsfeeds, and actually tested with a feedreader (weak I know)...

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0NaN-NaN-NaN WAP site bug fixes (character and tag translation).

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0NaN-NaN-NaN Added roadmap and timeline links from details pages

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0NaN-NaN-NaN Corrected a few problems with the forum and subscriptions

0NaN-NaN-NaN Trying out horizontal Google link ad on top.