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Language: C++
Expertise: All
May 22, 2000



Building the Right Environment to Support AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning

What's in a Byte?

Many believe that a byte is by definition, an eight-bit data unit. Technically, this definition isn't correct. A byte is a data unit with an unspecified number of bits. Indeed, almost every hardware architecture nowadays uses eight-bit bytes. However, 20 and 30 years ago, machines that had 6-bit bytes, 11-bit bytes, and other weird numbers, weren't exceptional. For this reason, communication protocols and other standards (e.g., CORBA) use the term octet — rather than byte — to refer to a data unit that occupies exactly eight bits. For example, an IP address consists of four octets.
Danny Kalev
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