Re: Big Endian - Little Endian

James Kanze <>
Tue, 2 Sep 2008 02:13:05 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 1, 10:51 pm, peter koch <> wrote:

On 1 Sep., 22:24, James Kanze <> wrote:

On Sep 1, 4:54 pm, Juha Nieminen <nos...@thanks.invalid> wrote:

James Kanze wrote:

but I can't imagine the need today, with 64 bits virtual
address space).

Clearly you have never needed to read/write humongous amounts
of data as fast as possible.

You'd be surprised:-).

In the good old days, when we had to fit the application into
64KB, just dumping the bits was a very efficient way to
implement overlays of data (and of code, for that matter, if the
system and the linker supported it). Today, however, the
address space of virtual memory is larger than the biggest disks
I can get my hands on, so the only reason I would explicitly
write to disk (as opposed to paging) is because I need to be
able to reread it later. Which means that it must have a
defined format, and just dumping the bits doesn't work.

I mostly agree, but there are exceptions, and they are not
THAT few. One apparant exception is databases: if you want
high performance and reliability, there is no way out of
writing data explicitly to disk and doing so in a binary

Nobody said to not use a binary format. But a binary format is
not "unformatted". All of the high performance data bases I
know use a proprietary internal format, with little impact on

Of course, portability suffers but you don't want to port to
exoteric machines anyway.

You might, however, want to be able to reread the data with a
program compiled with a newer version of the compiler. Or with
a program compiled with different compiler options. I've seen
byte order change from one version of the compiler to the next
(Microsoft, for PC's---not the most exoteric machine around),
and all of the compilers I use have options which change the
size of some of the basic types, padding in structures, etc.

James Kanze (GABI Software)
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