Browse Definitions:
Definition

word

In computer architecture, a word is a unit of data of a defined bit length that can be addressed and moved between storage and the computer processor. Usually, the defined bit length of a word is equivalent to the width of the computer's data bus so that a word can be moved in a single operation from storage to a processor register. For any computer architecture with an eight-bit byte, the word will be some multiple of eight bits. In IBM's evolutionary System/360 architecture, a word is 32 bits, or four contiguous eight-bit bytes. In Intel's PC processor architecture, a word is 16 bits, or two contiguous eight-bit bytes.

Some computer processor architectures support a half word, which is half the bit length of a word, and a double word (doubleword), which is two contiguous words. Intel's processor architecture also supports a quadword, two contiguous doublewords, and a double quadword, two contiguous quadwords.

A word can contain a computer instruction, a storage address, or application data that is to be manipulated (for example, added to the  data in another word space). In some architectures, a double word or larger unit is required to contain an instruction, address, or application data. Typically, an instruction is a word in length, but some architectures support halfword and doubleword-length instructions.

In general, the longer the architected word length, the more the computer processor can do in a single operation.

This was last updated in September 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchCloudProvider

  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.

SearchSecurity

  • cyberextortion

    Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of an attack coupled with a demand for money or some other response in ...

  • Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency is the official U.S. cryptologic organization of the United States Intelligence Community under the ...

SearchHealthIT

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to ...

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient...

  • 21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • Random Access Memory (RAM)

    Random Access Memory (RAM) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

  • floating gate transistor (FGT)

    A floating gate transistor (FGT) is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology capable of holding an electrical ...

  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close