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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
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file format, software A binary file containing an
executable program, formed by a sequence of op code/data
Byte-code op codes are most often fixed size binary patterns,
but can be variable size. The data portion consists of zero
or more bits, the format of the data portion may be
determined by the identifier. The data is most often variable
in size.
In some cases, by clever design, (e.g. some RISC
instruction sets) the identifier/data pair is a fixed size.
This can provide performance benefits.
A byte-code program is normally interpreted by a byte-codeinterpreter. The advantage of this technique compared with
outputing machine code for a particular processor is that
the same byte-code can be executed on any processor on which
the byte-code interpreter runs. The byte-code may be compiled
to machine code ("native code") for speed of execution but
this usually requires significantly greater effort for each
new taraget architecture than simply porting the interpreter.