Byte Order

There are two possible ways of storing multi-byte values (i.e. words) in memory:

  • Most significant byte first, also known as big-endian. The big-endian name reflects the historic fact that this method was common to mainframe computers.
  • Least significant byte first. This placement was commonly used in mini- and microcomputers, hence the name little-endian.

For example, a hexadecimal double word 12345678 is stored as follows:

    12 34 56 78           (big-endian)
    78 56 34 12           (little-endian)

The same is true for UNICODE characters which are also affected by the byte order convention.

Intel and AMD x86 family processors are little-endian and use the 'least significant byte first' order. To avoid confusion don't change this setting unless you are editing a foreign file.