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Ive always wondered the difference between 32bit and 64bit computers...? Answered

I build computers for locals around where I live. Mostly repaires, some builds. Its not a real job, just a side hobby (that provides a little income).

But Ive never understood the difference between a 64bit and 32bit system (I usually fix 32bits, and ive only repaired one 64bit). I know they have difference operating system types for the first part, but do they have the same hardware? Is it just the operating system that distinguishes between 64 or 32? Or do they have to have 'special' hardware.

Also, what other advantages does a 64bit have over a 32? Other then the recognization of more RAM.


There is a hardware difference, but you need the right software to take advantage of it. 64-bit processors can handle _some_ tasks (those which involve larger or more precise numbers) more rapidly than 32-bit processors. And as you notice, they may (but may not) be able to access more RAM... but again, whether that makes a real difference depends on the tasks you're performing. Generally, 32-bit software can be run on a 64-bit machine, even if that machine is running a 64-bit operating system. So it's not uncommon to find machines set up for 64-bit even if they aren't taking full advantage of that mode of operation. Example of where it helps: Some digital audio processing/editing software runs significantly better in its 64-bit version, since it involves large computations that have to run at real-time speeds. That means you can handle more tracks of audio at once, and/or run more complicated processing chains on those audio tracks, than you could with a 32-bit processor running at the same speed. However, most consumer software does *not* involve those kinds of computations. "All machines wait for user input at the same speed", and most of what folks are doing these days involves much more pushing data around than actually doing complicated math on it. The main exception, computer graphics, has largely been offloaded to specialized processors in the graphic cards, so the 32/64 distinction doesn't affect that very much. I'm running both Windows and Linux. My Windows system is still 32-bit, even though I am in fact using a digital audio workstation package that could benefit from 64-bit mode, because it hasn't been worth the effort to switch over. My Linux systems are running in PAE mode, which is basically 32-bit processing with 64-bit addressing. At some point I will consider upgrading all of these, but not until there is something I need to do that the current setup won't do.

I really wish I could "Best Answer" all of you. I understand now. I can see, the light and power of computing. Thank you.

In simple terms: the data "pipe" is twice as wide, so you can theoretically process twice as much data per clock-cycle.
(Other answers good too)


At the processor level all computing is done in binary. If you have more binary bits available - 64 rather than 32, you can operate with bigger numbers. Under the right circumstances this can make th machine operate faster, it can also mean more instructions can be fetched at once as the available space (64 bits) will hold more data. This may mean a faster machine as well because much of the time spent in computing is actually dead time waiting for data to be transferred from memory to the processor and back. Astonishingly a Pc spends a lot of time doing nothing but waiting. To combat this modern Operating systems pre fetch the next command or two to have them waiting in memory in the processor so they an be use faster. Having said all that i run a 64 bit Win 7 system and notice very little difference except when I run heavy graphics programmes - flight simulator for example, where lots of calculation is required. this does run faster and therefore smoother.


8 years ago

All computers today have the same hardware, regardless of if their OS is 32 bit or 64 bit. When 64 bit OS's were first introduced, there were processors that were limited to 32 bit, but all modern hardware can run either. If you want to know the actual difference in how data is processed between the two, this is a good read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit