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Processors with an 8-bit data bus can perform 8-bit arithmetic operations and may be capable of 16-bit operations.
16-bit processors can typically perform 8 and 16-bit operations with a single instruction.
32-bit processors can perform 8, 16 and 32-bit operations in a single instruction.
Multiple instructions may be needed if the processor won’t directly handle the data size needed.
The size of the data needed depends on the application. Many times the result will be stored in a byte-sized memory location and a byte operation will suffice. Other applications may require a larger range of values and 16 or 32 bits may be needed.
Integer number ranges:
8-bit signed -128 to +127
8-bit unsigned 0 to 255
16-bit signed -32,768 to +32,767
16-bit unsigned 0 to 65,535