Byte Code vs Machine Code: Difference and Comparison

 As we are gradually paving our way towards progress and development, we can notice that there is a vast growth in the field of information and technology and it is all because of computer and their coding system. Coding is a set of commands that tell computers how to do exactly what is instructed to them; it helps us to create different software and application which contribute to the advancement of new technologies.

Key Takeaways

  1. Byte code is an intermediate code generated by a compiler, which is then interpreted or compiled into machine code for execution.
  2. Machine code is the lowest-level code directly understood by the computer’s hardware.
  3. Byte code provides portability across platforms, while machine code is platform-specific and optimized for performance.

Byte Code vs Machine Code

Byte code is a low-level, intermediate code between the source and machine codes. It is a non-runnable code until an interpreter translates it into machine code. Machine code is a set of instructions that is directly understandable by the machine. It is the final code processed by the CPU.

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Byte code is a sequence of extremely efficient commands designed to be performed by a virtual computer, which is commonly known as a program. It is a low-level code that has been compiled from source code for proper execution by a software translator.

It is critical to understand that the Byte code is not the same as the hardware processor’s machine code. The virtual machine translates Byte code into Machine Language that can be understood by the processor of the computer.

Machine code is a type of computer program made consisting of the basic instructions for a particular computer. It is the fundamental language of computers, composed of machine language commands consisting of binary or hexadecimal commands that a computer’s central processing unit can interpret directly (CPU).

Every processor in a computer is linked to a set of Machine Code commands that it can comprehend and implement.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonByte CodeMachine Code
Code-levelThe code is intermediate.The code is low-level.
Machine-specific featureThe Byte Code can be used by virtual machines and other software.All aspects of the Machine Code are machine-specific.
Instruction TypeIt comprises binary, hexadecimal, macro instructions such as swap, etc.It is made up of binary language code, as a result, the instructions are encoded in 0s and 1s.
CPU comprehensibleIt cannot be understood by a CPU directlyThis form of code can be directly understood and processed by any CPU.
Generation and implementationAfter compiling the source code, the Byte Code is generated. However, it cannot be executed directly on a CPU. Its operation is entirely dependent on a translator.Since it is a machine language, it can be processed by the CPU. It is in binary format, so it does not require translation or compilation.

What is Byte Code?

Byte code, known as p-code because of its portability, is a type of command optimized for software translator operation. Byte codes, unlike human-readable source code, are filled with numerical codes, constants, and credentials (numeric addresses) that encode the output of parsing and semantic analysis of program object types, scopes, and nesting levels.

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As a result, they provide significantly higher efficiency over direct source code translation.

As the Byte Code command is given by the software, they can be as sophisticated as they want to be, although they’re frequently very similar to regular hardware instructions, the most prevalent is the virtual stack machines, However, virtual register machines have also been constructed. Different sections are frequently saved in distinct files, analogous to object modules, but packed dynamically during runtime. 

Byte Code is computer object data that is executed by a virtual machine,  and there are certain advantages of using Byte Code, such as 

 -With the help of Byte Code, it is possible to achieve the platform-independent objectives.

-The JVM command may differ from one system to the other, but the Byte Code can be run on any machine.

-It improves Java’s flexibility and portability, reflecting the phrase “write once, read everywhere.”

What is Machine Code?

A collection of rules or commands performed directly by a computer’s central processing unit is known as Machine Code. Each command conducts a very particular duty on a unit of data in a CPU register or memory, such as loading, a jump, or an ALU (Arithmetic logic unit) operation.

A collection of such commands make up every program that is performed by a CPU.

Machine code is a rudimentary and hardware-dependent languages that is the lowest-level express a computer program that is compiled and assembled. Although it is feasible to write programmes explicitly in numerical Machine Code, manually managing individual bits and calculating numerical locations and constants is time consuming and there are more chances of making mistakes.

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As a result, it is only used in select cases today, such as when severe enhancement or debugging is required.

Machine code is a numerical representation of commands and data. It has a variety of advantages for its users, including:

-Machine language is particularly well suited to smaller devices with less memory.

-Programming in machine language is more efficient than programming in other languages because they require less time to execute.

-Translation is not required since these programs are written in machine language which a computer understands directly without any interpretation.

machine code

Main Differences Between Byte and Machine Code

1.  Byte code is made up of binary, hexadecimal commands that are not directly comprehended by computers, such as “subtract” “multiplication,’ and so on. Machine code, on the other hand, uses binary commands that are recognized by the CPU instantly.

2. As the Byte code is created after the source code is compiled, it cannot run. The interpreter is the one who puts it into action. Whereas, Machine code is composed in machine language and may be executed immediately by the CPU.

3. There is no platform dependency in Byte Code, whereas Machine Code is unique to each platform.

4. The JVM executes Byte Code; on the other hand, the processor executes machine code directly.

5. Binary is referred to as intermediate instructions or code, whereas Machine Code is referred to as low-level instruction or code.


Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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