Categories: Technologies

Tags: Assembler, Assembly Language, Compiler, Programming, Programming Language

The Place of Assembly Language in a Modern Programming World

Assembly language appeared more than 70 years ago. When a computer stored a large amount of information in memory, programs began to be described not in machine language, but in a language more understandable to humans. After such a long period of time, assembly language should have become hopelessly outdated, but it remains relevant to this day. 

What are assemblers and compilers?

The difference between compilers and assemblers is that a compiler is used to translate high-level programming language code into machine language code. On the other hand, an assembler translates assembly level language code into machine language code. Both these terms are relevant in context to program execution.

Assembly Language

Assembly language provides access to registers, allows for the specification of addressing methods, and allows for the use of processor instruction terminology to describe operations. The language may include higher-level tools. For example, macro instructions (both built-in and defined), similar to a set of several machine instructions; the ability to set automatic selection of commands (by operand types); and tools for describing data structures.


A compiler that transforms assembly language into machine language commands is often called mnemonic code. With its help, machine codes are transformed into a mnemonic (easy to read) form. The name of assembler means to assemble. In essence, this is a type of translator.

Assembly language is a low-level language readable by humans that is used within the operating system to translate the source program (given to the computer) into machine language. Based on the components of the assembler, the architecture of an electronic computer becomes clear. In assembly language, machine language is represented in the form of symbols, making programs much easier to write. It is possible to develop several assembly languages suitable for the same computer. When a programmer works with a high-level language, he does not see the problems associated with the implementation of algorithms. The assembler interacts openly with the computer command system.

Programmers use separate assemblers for processors of different architectures and for different operating systems. For example, a program for a machine with one architecture can be assembled using a cross assembler for a machine with a different architecture (or operating system).

A Correspondence

There is a correspondence between assembler and processor commands, which allows commands and arguments to be written in a specified symbolic form, although there are complexities involved. Both data and parts of the program are associated with each other through labels during the assembly process. First, an address is determined for each label, which is then placed at the places where the labels appear.

Some programming tasks that can be solved using assembler:

  • Increasing the responsiveness of program sections written in C++, for example, or in other high-level languages. This is in demand in gaming consoles with fixed performance. It is also suitable for multimedia codecs, for which popularity rather than resource consumption is at the forefront.
  • Development of operating systems. The C language is often used to write operating systems; it was originally invented to create one of the first versions of Unix. Assembly language is actively used to write hardware-dependent sections of code, such as the OS loader, HAL, and kernel.
  • Writing programs for microcontrollers (MK) and microprocessors. Professor Tannenbaum, for example, is convinced that MKs are now developing as rapidly as modern computers once did. Assembly language is very actively used for programming microcontrollers. And a common operation there is moving individual bytes from one memory cell to another. Also assembly popular for IoT.
  • Driver development. Assembly language is used for hardware-related sections of drivers. In general, the main requirement for drivers is reliability, which is why they are often written in high-level languages. After all, in Windows NT and Linux, for example, drivers operate in kernel mode, and any error can simply destroy the system.
  •  Development of translators for programming languages.

In general, when there is a need to use a large number of computers united for one purpose, low cost and high operating speed are of paramount importance. And here the assembler again becomes an indispensable solution.

No matter what programming language we use, Swan Software Solutions is determined to create reliable, scalable, and affordable solutions to meet the needs of our clients. To find out how we can help your company with its technology needs, schedule a free assessment.

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