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Fixed-Point Basics

Learn about fixed-point number representation, scaling, range, precision, and arithmetic operations

In digital hardware, numbers are stored in binary words. A binary word is a fixed-length sequence of bits (1's and 0's). How hardware components or software functions interpret this sequence of 1's and 0's is defined by the data type.

A fixed-point data type is characterized by the word length in bits, the position of the binary point, and whether it is signed or unsigned. The position of the binary point is the means by which fixed-point values are scaled and interpreted.

A common representation of a binary fixed-point number, either signed or unsigned, is shown in the following figure.