Low-level programming is machine-oriented and sits close to computer peripherals. For that reason, it requires more extensive programmer knowledge of the processor's instructions and orientation within the relationships between internal systems and related devices. Its main aim is to control and modify the computer's hardware – that's why low-level programming is non-portable and machine-dependent.
- High-level programming – the developer focuses on algorithms and data flows instead of the machine code itself. High-level is more generic, universal, and easier to maintain. However, these advantages also reduce performance.
- Low-level programming requires knowledge of the system’s architecture. Each processor (or a group of similar processors) has predefined instructions set up by the manufacturer – the programmer has to be familiar with the hardware’s structure.
Low-level programming is helpful in projects where a written program depends on predefined hardware. It allows for direct hardware control and addresses critical optimization problems.
Standard low-level applications are:
- device drivers,
- fast calculation libraries,
- operating system kernels.
Summing up, low-level programming allows the programmer to adapt the processor to precise requirements with minimum memory usage while maintaining high performance.