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What Does Word Length Mean in Computers?

Word Length

Does a “word length” denote the maximum number of alphabets you can write to form a word?

Well yes, but in computer science, the word length actually refers to it’s processor. It refers to it’s processing speed to be precise.

In computer architecture, a word is a unit of data. It has a defined length and is transferred back and forth between the External and the Internal memory. In addition to this, a computer also has a data bus.

Now what is a data bus?

A data bus is an imaginary vessel which transfers the data from one unit to another.

Usually, the word length is equal to the width of the data bus. And this makes sense because a bus cannot carry more passengers than it’s maximum capacity right?

Although, this does not mean that the word length must be small. If the word length is long, more data can be transferred in a single operation. And what happens when more data is transferred? The computer processes the data faster of course!

Typically the computer processors are of word lengths – 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit. More the word length, faster will be the data flow and hence faster the computer.

You might be wondering what a “bit” is. Don’t worry, I’ll talk about it in my future blogs. For now, I hope all of you now understand the meaning of a 64-bit processor.

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