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word length

The word length of a data word is determined by the number of bits or characters that make up such a data word. The word length selected for a particular computer or memory is determined by the architecture of the memory, the processor or the transmission path.

Word lengths depend on the register size as well as the internal computer processing of the data words. There are processors that operate with fixed word lengths of 4 bits, 8 bits, 16 bits, 32 bits, and 64 bits, and others that operate with variable word lengths.

Word lengths

Word lengths

Word lengths have their own designation. Word lengths of 3 bits are called triads, 4 bits are called nibbles, quadbits or halfbytes, and word lengths of 8 bits are called bytes. A multiple of the byte is used as a further counting unit for longer word lengths. Thus, word lengths of 16 bits are referred to as double byte or word, 32 bits as double word, 64 bits as quad word and 128 bits as eightfold word.

In addition to the usual designations, some manufacturers use other designations. For example, they designate word lengths of 16 bits as a half word, 32 bits as a word, and 64 bits word length as a double word.

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Englisch: word length
Updated at: 03.01.2019
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