Flat Address Space

What Does Flat Address Space Mean?

A flat address space is a technique where memory is treated as a flat plane of memory locations, which serve as a single contiguous block with a single integer offset.

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A flat memory model uses a flat address space to address memory. This means that the first address is 0, and each subsequent byte is referenced as a single integer increment of the next sequential number until the end of memory is reached. Thus, when writing four bytes into totally empty memory, the first byte is stored in address 0, and subsequent bytes are stored in addresses 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

Techopedia Explains Flat Address Space

A program treats memory as a single contiguous flat space, allowing a processor to address all available memory locations in a linear matter, without resorting to special calculations and processes, like memory segmentation and paging schemes.

A flat address space offers the following advantages:

  • Easy learning curve for programmers

  • Enables straightforward and clean program implementation

  • Provides the greatest flexibility among the different modern memory models because other techniques, like memory management and address translation, can still be implemented on top of it

  • Provides minimal toll on hardware and central processing unit (CPU) for simple actions

  • Provides maximum execution speed, due to its simplicity

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.