I would like to know two things that is making my head quite confusing these days.

If i allocate an int in C18 compiler I know it will take two bytes and, if I initialize a pointer to the variable, say:

int x,*xptr;
xptr = &x;

then I have to access *xptr for first byte and *xptr+1 for the second byte?

Well, what factor determines that which one is MSB and LSB?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question is not related to electrical engineering, this should have been posted in stack overflow \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Dec 10 '13 at 8:00

The order is defined by the compiler. If you look at the MPLAB C18 C Compiler User's Guide and search for "endianness" on page 12 you'll find:

Endianness refers to the ordering of bytes in a multi-byte value. MPLAB C18 stores data in little-endian format. Bytes at lower addresses have lower significance (the value is stored “little-end-first”).

So in your example *xptr will reference the LSB and *xptr+1 will reference the MSB.


The 'endianness'. Generally speaking - it should not matter.

If you want upper and lower bytes of a word do something like:

unsigned int a = 1234;
unsigned char upper;
unsigned char lower;

upper = (a>>8)&0xFF;
lower = a & 0xFF;

and the reverse:

unsigned char upper = 12;
unsigned char lower = 34;
unsigned int a = 0;
a |= upper;
a <<= 8;
a |= lower;

This will ensure your code works reguardless of the compiler/cpu/endian.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is not good coding practice on an embedded system - the compiler is all too likely to do exactly what you have told it to and implement some very expensive (in terms of time & processor cycles) operations. Much better to do as the OP originally suggested. \$\endgroup\$ – markt Dec 10 '13 at 6:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would be a very poor compiler indeed that did not convert multiplication and division by 256 into left and right shift operations. However, I agree that this is poor coding practice. If your intention is to shift bits then use a shift operation. If your intention is to merge bit fields then use an OR operation, not an addition. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Hass Dec 10 '13 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you are missing the point. It isn't over mul add vs shift/or, its about not assuming endian. I could re-write it with shift/or of course. Once people assume endian, then they start doing things like... assume padding alignment etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Myforwik Dec 15 '13 at 2:20

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