Word (computer arc
In computing, word is a term for the natural unit of data used by a particular processor design. A word is basically a fixed sized group of bits that are handled as a unit by the instruction set and/or hardware of the processor. The number of bits in a word (the word size, word width, or word length) is an important characteristic of a specific processor design or computer architecture.
The size of a word is reflected in many aspects of a computer's structure and operation; the majority of the registers in a processor are usually word sized and the largest piece of data that can be transferred to and from the working memory in a single operation is a word in many (not all) architectures. The largest possible address size, used to designate a location in memory, is typically a hardware word (in other words, the full-sized natural word of the processor, as opposed to any other definition used).
Modern processors, including embedded systems, usually have a word size of 8, 16, 24, 32 or 64 bits, while modern general purpose computers usually use 32 or 64 bits. Special purpose digital processors, such as DSPs for instance, may use other sizes and many different sizes have been used historically, including 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 39, 40, 48 and 60 bits. The slab is an example of a system with an earlier word size. Several of the earliest computers (and a few modern as well) used BCD rather than plain binary, typically having a word size of 10 or 12 decimal digits, and some early decimal computers had no fixed word length at all.