32-bit vs. 64-bit processor architecture?5 min read

Hello friends, in this article, we’ll talk about what is 32-bit and 64-bit architecture or  32-bit and 64-bit hardware and software systems, what is the difference between them. How they make an impact on your computer’s overall performance and dictate what kind of software you can install.

What is a 32-bit processor?

What is 32-bit, first?

In computer science, 32-bit is a type of CPU that is capable of transferring 32 bits of data per clock cycle, it’s the amount of information that your CPU can process each time it operates. This means it can work with 232 (4,294,967,295) decimal numbers; For better understanding, let’s take an example, you can think of this architecture as a road, which has 32 lanes and just 32 “vehicles” (as 32-bit data) can transfer through the intersection at a time.

In general, the 32-bit processor was ubiquitous and was the primary processor used in all computers until the early 1990s. At that time, there are 2 famous chipmakers are Intel and AMD, they produced Intel Pentium and early AMD processors, respectively with the 32-bit processor architecture. If you open a file and see something like x86 or x86-32, you’re working with 32-bit architecture.

A 32-bit processor supports 32 bits. The address or data buses have 32 bits (4 octets) wide. When mentioning 32-bit processors, we tend to think about 32-bit linear address space (64-bit tends 64-bit virtual memory addresses, I will talk more about cache memory and virtual memory in later articles).

32-bit processor computer is a single-core and only supports 232 bytes relatively equal to 4GB memory (RAM). Because of the limitation of memory access at a time, 32-bit performs poorly in graphic design, video rendering, and video editing compared with a 64-bit processor.

And the fact is, with a 32-bit processor, your computer cannot have a 64-bit version of OS installed. On the other hand, you have a 64-bit architecture, it is also compatible with a 32-bit architecting system.

If you have a computer that has more than 4GB of RAM, let’s say 8GB, it’s better to have a 64-bit processor on your system, otherwise, at least 4GB of memory address will not be accessible by your CPU.

What is a 64-bit processor?

What is a 64-bit?

Similar to the way we talk in 32-bit, 64-bit is a type of CPU that is capable of transferring 64 bits of data per clock cycle, it’s the amount of information that your CPU can process each time it operates. In 64 bits, this number increases to 2&sup64;, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 numbers in decimal.

The 64-bit processor was originally created in 1961 inside the IBM 7030 Stretch supercomputer of IBM. But for a period of time, it wasn’t used in home computers until early 2000. If on your machine, you could open software with the extension part is x64 or x86-64 then you can identify your computer is running under 64-bit processor architecture.

64-bit processors support 64 number of bits (8 octans) data buses and address wide. It can come in dual-core, quad-core, six-core, and eight-core versions for home computing (you can think that a core is a CPU). For software, 64-bit means code to use with 64-bit virtual memory addresses. A 64-bit processor can support up to a theoretical maximum of 18 EB (264 bytes) memory address. However, the practical limit of 64-bit CPUs (as of 2018) is 8 TB of addressable RAM.

The more cores you have, the more calculations you can perform at a time which will lead to increase the processing power, hence, increase the speed of your computer and make it run faster. As demand for modern software which requires many calculations to function smoothly, the multi-core 64-bit processors come in handy and play a pivotal role in making the computer runs faster. By contrast with a 32-bit processor, a high amount of RAM in the 64-bit processor is good for video rendering, video editing, and graphic design.

A computer with a 64-bit processor can have a 64-bit or 32-bit version of an operating system installed. However, with a 32-bit operating system, the 64-bit processor would not run at its full capability.

Now, let’s sum up the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit processor again, also see the pros and cons from each:

Number of bits3264
Architecture and Software Description32-bit architecture is based on registers, address or data buses 32 bits (4 octets) wide. For software, 32-bit typically means use of 32-bit linear address space.64-bit architecture is based on registers, address or data buses 64 bits (8 octets) wide. For software, 64-bit means code use with 64-bit virtual memory addresses.
Compatibility32-bit operating systems (OS) and applications require 32-bit CPUs64-bit OS requires 64-bit CPU, and 64-bit applications need a 64-bit OS and CPU
Systems AvailableAll editions of Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP, LinuxXP Professional, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, as well as Mac OS X and Linux
Memory Limits32-bit systems are limited to 3.2 Gigabytes (GB) of RAM 32 bit Windows with address limitation do not attain to a full 4GB. It’s hardware dependent, typically 3.25GB.64-bit systems allow up to 17 Billion GB of RAM.
ProsFewer issues, more widely compatible• More RAM access • More efficiency • More virtual memory allocation • More security features
ConsLess RAM access, less memory, less efficiency, fewer security features• Possible driver compatibility • Some motherboard RAM limits • Legacy issues

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