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Byte Buffers and Non-Heap Memory Most Java programs spend their time working with objects on the JVM heap, using getter and setter methods to retrieve or change the data in those objects.A few programs, however, need to do something different.For example, here's a C program that writes a 4-byte signed integer to a file: But here's a question: how do you know that the data is Little-Endian?One common solution is to start files with a “magic number” that indicates the byte order. An alternative is to specify the ordering, and require writers to follow that specification.“Little-endian” machines, such as the PDP-11, 8080, and 80x86 store low-order bytes first in memory: the integer value . However, most Java programs run on Intel processors, which are Little-Endian.This can cause a lot of problems if you're trying to exchange data between a Java program and a C or C program running on the same machine.That means that it will be used to directly access objects like network protocol buffers, which are defined in terms of byte offsets from a base address.
This latter feature is a great way to work with large amounts of structured data, as it lets you leverage the operating system's memory manager to move data in and out of memory in a way that's transparent to your program.Perhaps they're exchanging data with a program written in C.Or they need to manage large chunks of data without the risk of garbage collection pauses.In Java, of course, arrays are first-class objects, and an array member variable holds a pointer to the actual data.Apparently the very earliest implementations of C also accessed arrays using double-indirection, but Dennis Ritchie decided that the “array variable is pointer” approach made for a more natural programming style.