[Oberon] byte vs. octet.

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 20:16:00 CEST 2018

On Thu, 26 Apr 2018 at 20:02, <peter at easthope.ca> wrote:

> Various computing related documents, including some Oberon documents
> use "octet" rather than "byte".  Appears the terms are synonymous.
> Use of octet in computing is newer than byte?  Is either  term better
> or preferable?

The theory is, AIUI, that:

[1] bytes are a unit of *memory*. Serial data, for instance, are not
memory: you can't access all the bits at once; they are flowing past.
Octets are used for non-memory binary data.

[2] Bytes are not always 8 bits. E.g. parity memory modules (SIMMs or
DIMMs) store 9 bits per byte. Many computers used 6, 12, or 18-bit words of
storage, but people now assume one block of memory is an 8-bit byte, or a
binary multiple thereof (16 bits, 32 bits, 64 bits), whereas on older
minicomputers and mainframes that was not the case. They could certainly
manipulate 8-bit blocks of data, but these weren't native words -- they
were octets.

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