Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit

You have heard about the 32-bit or 64-bit software or hardware but many of us really don’t know what does it mean. Here is the brief explanation.

Many times you have heard about the 32-bit or 64-bit software or hardware but many of us don’t know what does it mean.

You might have noticed this term while downloading the software or Operating Systems for your computers.

The term 32-bit or 64-bit associated with the processor. Here I’m gonna explain the technical difference between them and what are the advantages and disadvantages of one over the other.

First, I’ll talk about the pure mathematics and structure of the processors that are involved here. I’ll keep this part short and sweet.

A bit is the smallest memory unit and it stores a single “binary digit”. A Binary Digit is basically how a computer store and makes references to data, memory, etc. A bit can have a value of 1 or 0, that’s it. So binary code is streams of 1’s and 0’s, such as this random sequence 100100100111.

These bits are also how your processor does calculations. By using 32 bits your processor can represent numbers from 0 to 4,294,967,295 while a 64-bit machine can represent numbers from 0 to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615. This means your computer can do math with larger numbers, and be more efficient with smaller numbers.

Now see, that description wasn’t too bad, but the question is how does this affect you, the average PC owner? The largest benefit will go to academic institutions and private companies, where large calculations are being performed, huge databases are being accessed, and complex problems are being solved.

Speed is not the only factor to consider in a comparison of 32-bit and 64-bit processors. Applications such as multi-tasking, stress testing, and clustering—for HPC (high-performance computing)—may be more suited to a 64-bit architecture when deployed appropriately.

64-bit clusters have been widely deployed in large organizations such as IBM, HP and Microsoft, for this reason.

64-bit PC can handle a large amount of Primary Storage and Secondary Storage space as compare to 32-bit PC. A 32-bit PC can have maximum 4GB of RAM whereas a 64-bit can support from 1GB to more than 128GB of RAM.

Microsoft has also employed some new features in Windows Vista onwards Operating Systems which are only for a 64-bit PC like

  • Kernel Patch Protection
  • Driver Signing etc.

Now if you are the 64-bit PC user you can install both 32-bit or 64-bit compatible Operating System. But if you have installed 64-bit compatible OS in 64-bit PC then you can not use 32-bit compatible drivers and soft-wares, you will have to search for 64-bit compatible drivers and soft-wares.

Furthermore, if you are having 32-bit PC maximum RAM supported if 4GB and if installed only 3GB to 3.5GB is usable and that’s not the problem with 64-bit PC. Your system will work faster as it can handle larger length data types because of having registers which can handle larger data streams.

So when buying a new PC always ask for 64-bit.

Also, research is being carried on to develop the 128-bit processors.