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word size

word size in Technology

The number of bits that a CPU can process at one time. Processors with many different word sizes have existed though powers of two (8, 16, 32, 64) have predominated for many years. A processor's word size is often equal to the width of its external data bus though sometimes the bus is made narrower than the CPU (often half as many bits) to economise on packaging and circuit board costs.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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