Key Difference – Machine Language vs Assembly Language
Programming languages allow humans to create instructions for a computer to perform tasks. There are three categories of programming languages such as High-level programming languages, Assembly language, and Machine language. High-level programming languages are easier for humans to understand. Language recognized by a computer is known as machine language. Assembly language is the language between high-level languages and machine language. The key difference between machine language and assembly language is that, machine language executes directly by a computer and assembly language requires an assembler to convert to machine code or object code to execute by the CPU.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Machine Language
3. What is Assembly Language
4. Similarities Between Machine Language and Assembly Language
5. Side by Side Comparison – Machine Language vs Assembly Language in Tabular Form
What is Machine Language?
Humans can understand High-level programming languages. It is not necessary to have a deep understanding of the internal CPU, to program using high-level languages. They follow a syntax similar to the English language. Java, C, C++, Python are some high-level programming languages. A computer recognizes machine language but does not understand high-level languages. Therefore, those programs should be converted to computer understandable machine language. This translation is done using a compiler or an interpreter.
A machine language consists of binary digits which are zeros and once. A computer is a digital electronic device, so it uses binary for operations. One indicates the true state / on state while zero indicates the false state / off state. The way of converting a program from high-level language to machine language depends on the CPU.
What is Assembly Language?
Assembly language is the intermediate language between high-level programing languages and machine language. It is one level above machine language. Assembly language is easier to understand than machine language but harder than high-level programming languages. This language is also known as a low-level language because it is close to the hardware level. In order to write effective programs using Assembly, the programmer should have a good understanding of the computer architecture and the register structure. A special compiler known as an assembler is used to convert assembly language instructions to machine code or object code.
Assembly language statements have four sections. They are a label, mnemonic, operand, comment. Label and comments are optional. Mnemonic is the instruction to execute and operands are parameters for the command. Assembly language also supports macros. A macro can be defined as a set of instructions with a name. It can be used elsewhere in the program.
Some examples of Assembly language statements are as follows.
MOV SUM,50 – This instruction, copies the value 50 to the variable SUM.
ADD VALUE1,20 – This is to add 20 to the VALUE1 variable
ADD AH, BH – This instruction is to copy the content in AH register to BH register.
INC COUNT – This is to increment the variable COUNT by one.
AND VALUE1,100 – This is to perform AND operation on variable VALUE1 and 100.
MOV AL,20 – This is to copy value 20 to AL register
Set of Assembly statements is an Assembly program. It can be seen that the assembly language is easier than machine language. It has a syntax similar to the English language. Assembly language has around thirty instructions. The required memory and execution time is minimum comparing to high-level languages.
In real-time systems, there can be events which require CPU action immediately. These events are special subroutines called Interrupt service routine (ISR). Assembly language is useful for programming ISR.
What is the Similarity Between Machine Language and Assembly language?
- Both machine language and assembly language are related to the hardware level.
What is the Difference Between Machine Language and Assembly language?
Machine Language vs Assembly Language
|Machine language is the lowest level programming language where the instructions execute directly by the CPU.||Assembly language is a low-level programming language which requires an assembler to convert to machine code/object code.|
|Machine language is comprehensible only to the computers.||Assembly language is comprehensible to humans.|
|A machine language consists of binary digits.||Assembly language follows a syntax similar to the English language.|
|Machine language varies depending on the platform.||Assembly language consists of a standard set of instructions.|
|Machine language is machine code.||Assembly language is using for microprocessor-based, real-time systems.|
Summary – Machine Language vs Assembly Language
The difference between machine language and assembly language is that machine language is directly executed by a computer and assembly language is a low-level programming language which requires an assembler to convert to object code or machine code. Assembly language is one step ahead of machine language. Assembly language is an ideal language to program microcontroller based systems. This language also gives a good understanding of how the CPU is working and about the internal components of the computer.
Download the PDF Version of Machine Language vs Assembly Language
You can download PDF version of this article and use it for offline purposes as per citation note. Please download PDF version here Difference Between Machine Language and Assembly Language
1.The point, Tutorials. “Assembly Introduction.” Tutorials Point, 15 Aug. 2017. Available here
2.The point, Tutorials. “Assembly Basic Syntax.” Tutorials Point, 15 Aug. 2017. Available here
3.“What is Machine Language?” Computer Hope, 11 Oct. 2017. Available here