Compilers for PC compatibles use two types of pointers.
near pointers are 16 bits long and can address a 64KB range. far pointers are 32 bits long and can address a 1MB range.
near pointers operate within a 64KB segment. There’s one segment for function addresses and one segment for data.
far pointers have a 16-bit base (the segment address) and a 16-bit offset. The base is multiplied by 16, so a far pointer is effectively 20 bits long. For example, if a far pointer had a segment of 0x7000 and an offset of 0x1224, the pointer would refer to address 0x71224. A far pointer with a segment of 0x7122 and an offset of 0x0004 would refer to the same address.
Before you compile your code, you must tell the compiler which memory model to use. If you use a small- code memory model, near pointers are used by default for function addresses. That means that all the functions need to fit in one 64KB segment. With a large-code model, the default is to use far function addresses. You’ll get near pointers with a small data model, and far pointers with a large data model. These are just the defaults; you can declare variables and functions as explicitly near or far.
18. When should a far pointer be used?
Sometimes you can get away with using a small memory model in most of a given program. There might be just a few things that don’t fit in your small data and code segments.
When that happens, you can use explicit far pointers and function declarations to get at the rest of memory. Afar function can be outside the 64KB segment most functions are shoehorned into for a small-code model. (Often, libraries are declared explicitly far, so they’ll work no matter what code model the program uses.)
A far pointer can refer to information outside the 64KB data segment. Typically, such pointers are used withfarmalloc() and such, to manage a heap separate from where all the rest of the data lives.