Endian analysis

Endian analysis

on Sep 28, 10 • by Alen Zukich • with 2 Comments

Endianness refers to the ordering of bytes into memory. As many of you are aware, computers do ordering differently. You can have the representation of Big-endian or Little-endian. Essentially Big-endian stores data big-end first, meaning the first byte is the biggest and Little-endian stores data little-end first,...

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Endianness refers to the ordering of bytes into memory. As many of you are aware, computers do ordering differently. You can have the representation of Big-endian or Little-endian.

Essentially Big-endian stores data big-end first, meaning the first byte is the biggest and Little-endian stores data little-end first, meaning the first byte is smallest.

Because all machines are different and write data either as big or little-endian, a computer could read this data incorrectly.  If you are not prepared ahead of time for heterogeneous processor architectures, then you might be in for a world of hurt. This article describes the problem in detail and also provides solutions when you’re starting off.

But what if you’re not prepared?  This can be a costly and complicated problem when developing on large systems with multiple processors or during a porting effort.  You need to be able to verify the developers provide data interaction with the target processor in the proper endian format.  Here’s a good post that talks about this issue in more details, and references a bunch of good third party articles, some of which outline how source code analysis can help; the basic idea being that source code analysis can flag instances where data is being transmitted to or from the target without being transformed.

We’ve just introduced some capabilities in this area which are described in this white paper authored by our CTO Gwyn Fisher. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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