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.