Difference Between Assembly Language and Machine Language
In this article, we will discuss in detail about assembly language vs machine language. Machine language is a language that has a binary form. It can be directly executed by a computer. While an assembly language is a low-level programming language that requires software called an assembler to convert it into machine code.
The programming language is a set of instructions, in order to make a computer understand to perform a specific task or create an algorithm. There is huge variety of programming languages available nowadays like C, C++, COBOL, Java, Python, Fortran, Ada, and Pascal.
All programming language has some primitive building blocks which are known as syntax. These syntaxes of languages are textual. Primitives are combined by programmers to compose new programs.
Programming language broadly categorized into 3 categories:
- High-level programming language
- Assembly language
- Machine Language
A high-level language is easy for programmers to write as well as to understand. Programmers here use simple and easy syntax to address a specific task. Examples: Python, C, C++, etc. These syntaxes can’t be understood by CPU; hence it gets converted internally to binary which CPU can understand by the medium of compiler and interpreter.
Assembly language falls between a high-level programming language and Machine language. it has syntaxes similar to English, but more difficult than high-level programming languages. To program in assembly language, one should have understood at hardware level like computer architecture, registers, etc. This kind of programming is mostly seen in the embedded systems.
An example is given below,
ADD R1, R2
Machine language is the binary language that is easily understood by computers. Hence it can be directly executed by CPU with absolutely no need of compilers and interpreters.
The figure shown above represents machine language, assembly language and high-level language is clear form.
Represents a 12-bit machine language instruction. This instruction is divided into two parts: An operation code (or op code) and an operand.
Op code is 001, Operand is 010001110.
Along with remembering the dozens of code numbers for the operations, the programmer also has to keep track of the addresses for all the data items. Hence, Machine language is considered challenging and error-prone.
Head to Head Comparison between Assembly Language and Machine Language (Infographics)
Below is the top 7 difference between Assembly Language vs Machine Language.
Key differences between Assembly Language and Machine Language
Let us discuss some of the major differences between Assembly Language vs Machine Language :
- Machine language is series of bit patterns (that is the binary form) that are directly executed by a computer, whereas Assembly language is a low-level language that needs compiler and interpreter, which converts that language to machine language. And then it could be understood by a computer.
- Machine language is platform-dependent whereas Assembly is platform-independent. Platforms here referred to an operating system like Windows, Linux, etc.
- Machine language is not human readable; however, you can interpret it by numbers by hand. Every instruction known as an “op-code” is a number that might be followed in memory by “operands”
Assembly language is a set of instructions which can be read by human and can be understood as well. Here instead to remember the op-codes, “mnemonics” are used. It is however less readable than high-level language.
- Machine language can be extremely time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone. However, that’s not the case with Assembly language as mnemonic names and symbols are available here. It is much less tedious and error-prone than the binary machine code.
The problem with both these languages is Program written for one CPU architecture will not work for another CPU architecture. Every new CPU architecture will have a new set of instructions and hence to run the same program for other CPU, one will have to write a program from scratch if its machine language. If its assembly language, accessing memory instruction will change, hence significant modifications will be a requirement.
Assembly Language vs Machine Language Comparison Table
Let’s look at the topmost Comparison between Assembly Language vs Machine Language.
|Assembly Language||Machine Language|
|Assembly language is an intermediate programming language between a high-level programming language and Machine language||Machine language is a low-level language.|
|Assembly language is English syntaxes, which is understood by the CPU after converting it to low-level language by interpreter and compilers.||Machine language is in the form of 0’s and1’s (binary format). One showcases the true/on state while zero depicts the false/off state.|
|Programmers can understand the assembly language, however, CPU cannot.||CPU can directly understand Machine language. No need of compiler or assembler.|
|Assembly language is a set of instructions which are the same irrespective of platform.||Machine code differs platform to platform.|
|The codes and instructions of assembly language can be memorized.||Binary codes here can’t be memorized.|
|Modification is not that tough here.||Modification is not possible. It has to be written from scratch for a specific type of CPU.|
|Here applications are device drivers, low-level embedded systems, and real-time systems||CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs represent an application of binary form.|
To summarize, we can say assembly language is a level up from binary language. The difference is machine language executed directly by CPU whereas machine language is first converted to binary by the compiler and then executed by CPU. In this era, high-level language is widely used by programmers, because of their ease of code and that’s easy to understand.
This has been a guide to the top difference between Assembly Language vs Machine Language. Here we also discuss the key differences with infographics and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –
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