Yeah, you can break it down to binary if you wish and then convert it to decimal to determine what value will be used for the root bridge election. An easier way, if you have access, is to use windows calculator. After some exposure to it though, you should just be able to glance at the MAC and determine the lowest MAC address quite easily.
So which one is lower?
Well, the MAC is the same until the fourth octect from the left (which would be where we start when determining the lowest address). In hex, 0 is lowest and F (15) is highest value. So E would be lower than F so the first choice would be the lower MAC address. This would be the determining winner if the bridge ID value is equal. Remember bridge ID is 64 bits long (4 bits or priority plus 12 bits of vlan ID plus 48 bits of MAC address). 802.1D (regular spanning tree) is 16 bits of priority and 48 bits of MAC address.
Thanks for this.
So if I can restate
When figuring lowest MAC address and a letter is included with the MAC giving the letter it's hex value 0 - 5 (simplified) will give me the value.
Ok it becomes clearer and I will use the windows calculator to see if it becomes any more clear.
Just like Ryan said... When you're trying to figure out who has the lower MAC address, just compare each hex character from left to right. The only one that matters is the first character from the left that doesn't match, that's the one that decides who wins.
It's easy when they're numbers as we all know 1 is lower than 3, but as long as you remember that A comes after 9, B comes after A (counting up) it will be easy for you.
You could break everything down into binary, but since you really only have to concern yourself with one particular hex character, it would actually be a waste of time.
The more you use Hex the easier it gets, but for MACs just remember... 0 < 1 < 2 < 3 < 4 < 5 < 6 < 7 < 8 < 9 < A < B < C < D < E < F
Hope that helps,
So in hex, once you hit 10 you are starting with the letter A. Since hex is base(16), we can only have 16 numbers, hence 0 to F. However, once you want to goto decimal 16, the hex value will now be 10 (don't get this confused with decimal 10)
Hex / Decimal
0 = 0
1 = 1
2 = 2
9 = 9
A = 10
B = 11
C = 12
D = 13
E = 14
F = 15
10 = 16
11 = 17
1E = 30
1F = 31
Hopefully you can see the pattern for this. Just look at it by the octet as well. HTH,