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align something or other...

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That you''re aligning the variable to some boundary. Usually either a word or double word boundary. This can improve the retrieval time on certain processors, as some processors can only access memory on some boundary. For example, if I remember right the 386 processors can only access memory on 4 byte boundaries. So if you try to access a variable on a 386 that crosses this boundary the CPU may have to retrieve two separate double words, then do some swapping to get everything back in the right order. Of course this would be slower than a single access.

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