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From: Gennaro Prota (gennaro_prota_at_[hidden])
Date: 2006-06-08 14:05:43

On Thu, 8 Jun 2006 13:29:02 -0400, Kim Barrett <kab_at_[hidden]> wrote:

>At 12:51 PM -0400 6/8/06, Beman Dawes wrote:
>>Gennaro Prota wrote:
>> > * there is no guarantee that an unsigned char has 8 bits...
>>The C and C++ standards specify char, signed char, and unsigned char all
>>have exactly 8 bits, AFAIK.
>CHAR_BITS is defined to be *at least* 8 bits. No guarantee that it is
>*exactly* 8 bits.


>This is not just a historical artifact to support
>strange ancient processors with odd addressing unit sizes either. There
>are modern C/C++ implementations for modern DSP processors where, for
>example, sizeof(char) == sizeof(int) == 1, and CHAR_BITS is 16 or 32
>(or perhaps even 64, though I haven't actually run across that last
>case myself).

Historically there have been implementations for machines with a
36-bit word size, where CHAR_BIT == 9 was chosen. This way, four chars
were packed into one machine word, and a pointer to char actually
consisted of a pointer to a machine word plus an offset (0, 1, 2, 3).
Of course a pointer to int just consisted of a machine pointer. This
is basically the reason why the standard allows

  sizeof(char *) > sizeof(int *)

>Of course, the vast majority of even purportedly portable code ignores
>this fact, because it can be a real PITA to deal with, usually for little
>or no benefit.

It actually depends on the context. In some cases it is difficult, in
some others it's just a matter of avoiding to hardcode a constant.
FWIW, dynamic_bitset<>::count() also works on platforms where CHAR_BIT
> 8, by selecting a different implementation at compile time.
Incidentally, it also takes into account the possibility of padding
bits in the representation of integer types; do you know of any
implementation that has these?


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