Conversion of bcd time to and from flat binary values
I hope this article will make things a bit clearer. What is actually happening is that each digit of the number in its decimal form is being stored in a fixed number of bits … usually four or eight. For example, if you needed to store the decimal number 37 in BCD, with four-bits reserved for each column, then it would be encoded like this:. So, if you were to read this byte from RAM or from another component and were expecting to get the decimal value of 37, you would actually get … What you need to do is read the byte, then convert it back from BCD to decimal, before using conversion of bcd time to and from flat binary values.
Not hard, just a bit confusing. It used to be very common on much older computer systems with primitive instruction sets, but not so much anymore. Occasionally you might see it used where mathematics requiring unlimited precision are more important than fitting numbers into fixed-width data formats such as in financial and scientific applications.
But where I see it most frequently is in digital electronics; often involving clocks, or other types of numeric displays. Lets say you read a byte from a component which the datasheet says is in BCD, with four bits for each digit.
An excerpt from the DS realtime-clock datasheet, describing data format for minutes and seconds. To convert conversion of bcd time to and from flat binary values into an ordinary decimal value, you separate the digits with some simple binary masking, multiply the tens value by 10, then add them together:. A useful thing to point out here is to note that the hexadecimal representation of the BCD value matches the final value. To do this, we must separate the tens from the units, shift the tens up four places, then binary-OR them together:.
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