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This article is about the information storage unit. For other uses, see Nibble (disambiguation).
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In computing, a nibble (occasionally nybble, nyble, or nybl to lớn match the spelling of byte) is a four-bit aggregation, or half an octet. It is also known as half-byte or tetrade. In a networking or telecommunication context, the nibble is often called a semi-octet, quadbit, or quartet. A nibble has sixteen (24) possible values. A nibble can be represented by a single hexadecimal digit (
F) and called a hex digit.
A full byte (octet) is represented by two hexadecimal digits (
FF); therefore, it is common to lớn display a byte of information as two nibbles. Sometimes the mix of all 256-byte values is represented as a 16×16 table, which gives easily readable hexadecimal codes for each value.
Four-bit computer architectures use groups of four bits as their fundamental unit. Such architectures were used in early microprocessors, pocket calculators and pocket computers. They continue to lớn be used in some microcontrollers. In this context, 4-bit groups were sometimes also called characters rather than thở nibbles.
The term nibble originates from its representing "half a byte", with byte a homophone of the English word bite. In năm trước, David B. Benson, a professor emeritus at Washington State University, remembered that he playfully used (and may have possibly coined) the term nibble as "half a byte" and unit of storage required to lớn hold a binary-coded decimal (BCD) decimal digit around 1958, when talking to lớn a programmer of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. The alternative spelling nybble reflects the spelling of byte, as noted in editorials of Kilobaud and Byte in the early 1980s. Another early recorded use of the term nybble was in 1977 within the consumer-banking technology group at Citibank. It created a pre-ISO 8583 standard for transactional messages between cash machines and Citibank's data centers that used the basic informational unit 'NABBLE'.
The nibble is used to lớn describe the amount of memory used to lớn store a digit of a number stored in packed decimal format (BCD) within an IBM mainframe. This technique is used to lớn make computations faster and debugging easier. An 8-bit byte is split in half and each nibble is used to lớn store one decimal digit. The last (rightmost) nibble of the variable is reserved for the sign. Thus a variable which can store up to lớn nine digits would be "packed" into 5 bytes. Ease of debugging resulted from the numbers being readable in a hex dump where two hex numbers are used to lớn represent the value of a byte, as 16×16 = 28. For example, a five-byte BCD value of
5C represents a decimal value of
Historically, there are cases where nybble was used for a group of bits greater than thở 4. In the Apple II microcomputer line, much of the disk drive control and group-coded recording was implemented in software. Writing data to lớn a disk was done by converting 256-byte pages into sets of 5-bit (later, 6-bit) nibbles and loading disk data required the reverse. Moreover, 1982 documentation for the Integrated Woz Machine refers consistently to lớn an "8 bit nibble". The term byte once had the same ambiguity and meant a mix of bits but not necessarily 8, hence the distinction of bytes and octets or of nibbles and quartets (or quadbits). Today, the terms byte and nibble almost always refer to lớn 8-bit and 4-bit collections respectively and are very rarely used to lớn express any other sizes.
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Low and high nibbles
The terms low nibble and high nibble are used to lớn denote the nibbles containing, respectively, the less significant bits and the more significant bits within a byte. In graphical representations of bits within a byte, the leftmost bit could represent the most significant bit (MSB), corresponding to lớn ordinary decimal notation in which the digit at the left of a number is the most significant. In such illustrations the four bits on the left kết thúc of the byte size the high nibble, and the remaining four bits size the low nibble. For example,
ninety-seven = 9710 = (0110 0001)2 = 61hex
the high nibble is 01102 (6hex), and the low nibble is 00012 (1hex). The total value is high-nibble × 1610 + low-nibble (6 × 16 + 1 = 9710).
A nibble can be extracted from a byte by doing a bitwise logical AND operation and optionally a bit shift depending on if the high or low nibble is to lớn be extracted.
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#define HI_NIBBLE(b) (((b) >> 4) & 0x0F) #define LO_NIBBLE(b) ((b) & 0x0F)
b must be a variable or constant of an integral data type, and only the least-significant byte of
b is used.
In Common Lisp:
(defun hi-nibble (b) (ldb (byte 4 4) b)) (defun lo-nibble (b) (ldb (byte 4 0) b))
- Binary numeral system
- Syllable (computing)
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[...] The characteristic eight bit field is sometimes referred to lớn as a byte, a four bit field can be referred to lớn as a nibble. [...]
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Each of these letters corresponds to lớn one of the integers from zero to lớn fifteen, therefore requiring 4 bits (one "tetrade") in binary representation.
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A data symbol represents one quartet (4 bits) of binary data.
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Each hex digit (0–f) represents exactly 4 bits.
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[...] Bit - The smallest unit of information which can be represented. (A bit may be in one of two states I 0 or 1). [...] Byte - A group of 8 contiguous bits occupying a single memory location. [...] Character - A group of 4 contiguous bits of data. [...](NB. This Hãng sản xuất Intel 4004 manual uses the term character referring to lớn 4-bit rather than thở 8-bit data entities. Hãng sản xuất Intel switched to lớn use the more common term nibble for 4-bit entities in their documentation for the succeeding processor 4040 in 1974 already.)
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