Endianess of architectures

From: Webopedia:

The adjectives big-endian and little-endian refer to which bytes are most significant in multi-byte data types and describe the order in which a sequence of bytes is stored in a computers memory.

The terms little-endian/big-endian is taken from an anectode from the novel Gulliver's travels. The Lilliputians were separated by those who broke their egg on the little end (becoming little-endians) and those who opened it on the big end (becoming big-endians).

Bits little endian big endian
32bit   m68k
32bit   sparc
32bit   powerpc
32bit arm  
32bit i386  
32bit s390  
32bit mipsel mips
32bit sh3 sh3eb
32bit sh4 sh4eb
32bit vax  
64bit   sparc
64bit alpha  
64bit amd64  
64bit ia64  
java   jvm

Even though the above lists architectures either as little or big endian, some architectures are really endian-agnostic (or "bisexual"). They can be treated to act as a little or big endian CPU. PowerPC, MIPS and ARM are such CPUs. In these cases the above lists the endianess Debian uses for its GNU/Linux variant.

More information can be found here: