What Is Opcode And Operand?

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What Is Opcode And Operand?

In the realm of computer programming and machine-level language, two essential terms that underpin the functionality of computers are “opcode” and “operand.” These terms are fundamental to understanding how instructions are executed by a computer’s central processing unit (CPU). In this blog, we’ll delve into what opcodes and operands are, how they work together, and their significance in the world of computer architecture and programming.

Opcode: The Operation Code

The term “opcode” is a portmanteau of “operation code,” and it represents a key component of machine-level language or assembly language. An opcode is a binary code or a hexadecimal value that corresponds to a specific operation or command that the CPU should perform. These operations can range from basic arithmetic calculations to more complex tasks, such as memory manipulation and branching (conditional execution).

Key Points About Opcodes:

  1. Instruction Set: Every computer architecture has its own set of opcodes that are recognized by its CPU. These opcodes dictate what the CPU should do with the provided data.
  2. Binary Representation: Opcodes are typically represented in binary format. For example, “0000 0010” might represent an opcode that means “add.”
  3. Machine Language: Opcodes are an integral part of machine-level language and assembly language, which are the lowest-level programming languages understood by computers.
  4. Control Flow: Opcodes also control the flow of the program, determining when to execute certain commands, loop back, or branch to different parts of the program.

Operand: The Data

In the context of computer programming, the term “operand” refers to the data that an opcode operates on. Opcodes, while essential for defining what operation to perform, cannot do anything meaningful without operands. Operands are the actual values or memory addresses on which the opcode operates. These values can be numeric data, memory addresses, or registers, depending on the specific opcode’s requirements.

Key Points About Operands:

  1. Data Source: Operands provide the necessary data for the operation specified by the opcode. For instance, if the opcode is “add,” the operands would be the numbers you want to add together.
  2. Memory Addresses: In some cases, operands can be memory addresses that point to the location of data to be used in the operation.
  3. Registers: Some opcodes work directly with CPU registers, which are small, high-speed storage locations within the CPU itself.
  4. Data Types: Operand data can be of various types, such as integers, floating-point numbers, characters, and more, depending on the specific instruction.

Opcodes And Operands In Action

To illustrate how opcodes and operands work together, let’s consider a simple example. Suppose we have an assembly language instruction:

ADD R1, R2, R3

In this instruction:

  • “ADD” is the opcode, indicating that we want to perform an addition operation.
  • “R1,” “R2,” and “R3” are operands, representing CPU registers that hold the values to be added.

The CPU, upon encountering this instruction, will execute the addition operation on the values stored in registers R2 and R3, and then store the result in register R1.


Opcode and operand are fundamental concepts in computer architecture and programming. Opcodes define the operations to be performed, while operands provide the data or addresses on which these operations act. Understanding how these two elements work together is crucial for low-level programming, as they are the building blocks of all computer instructions and the foundation of the software that powers modern computing devices.


What Is Opcode And Example?

In computing, an opcode (abbreviated from operation code, also known as instruction machine code, instruction code, instruction syllable, instruction parcel or opstring) is the portion of a machine language instruction that specifies the operation to be performed.

What Is Operand Code In Computer?

In computing, an operand can refer to an element in a programming language, such as C++ or Java, or to an element that is part of a computer’s instruction code. In either case, the operand represents the data to be operated on or manipulated by some type of operator.

What Is An Operand Example?

In programming, an example of an operand could be a variable that contains a specific value. For example, if you have a variable called “num” that contains the value 5, “num” would be considered an operand. It can be used in various operations, such as adding or subtracting it from another variable.

Where Is Opcode Used?

An opcode identifies which basic computer operation in the instruction set is to be performed. It is used when writing machine code. It tells the computer to do something. Each machine language instruction typically has both an opcode and operands.

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