The difference between 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems

This article was modified on 2011-12-21 13:32:24


I will strictly refer to Windows, as this is the most popular operating system running on both 32 and 64-bit.

32-bit version

This version replaced the 16-bit age due to fact that computers became more advanced such as being able to work with more RAM, faster CPU and so on. What actually does is to allow your CPU ( computer processor ) to handle large amounts of random access memory ( RAM ) more effectively than a 16-bit system. The maximum amount of random access memory ( RAM ) that this technology can work with is limited at 4 GB. So if you have a computer with more than 4 GB such as 6, 8 or even more, it`s not going to be used at all if you`re using a 32-bit version.

64-bit version

This version is currently trying to replace the 32-bit technology since the 64-bit version is able to handle even more random access memory ( RAM ) more effectively than a 32-bit system. Actually, the 64-bit technology can handle from 1 GB of RAM to 128 GB of RAM ( random access memory ) or even more, however Microsoft doesn`t say what is the limit. So this version is going to be a lot faster if your system has more than 4 GB of RAM installed.

The differences between 32-bit and 64-bit versions

Unfortunately, there are no advantages for 32-bit if we look in the future ( only some temporary gaps in this transition 32-64 ) so I am going to list the advantages of 64-bit technology:

- I already said that, 32-bit works with maximum 4 GB of RAM while the 64-bit can work with 128 GB of RAM or even more and that means at least x32 more memory.
- programs that are written to take advantage of 64-bit operating technology are faster due to fact that they can benefit from better and more random memory access ( at least for the future when 4 GB of RAM will mean nothing ). I have 2 computers, one of them running Windows XP SP3 with Microsoft Office 2010 ( 32 bit ) and another one running Windows 7 with Microsoft Office ( 64 bit version ). So it`s actually a battle between 32bit Windows + 32bit Software AGAINST 64bit Windows + 64bit Software and I can tell you that 64-bit versions is loading faster, it works faster and I didn`t noticed any delay.
- there are several security features such the ``Kernel Patch Protection`` also known as “PatchGuard” which actually prevents a kernel-mode driver from replacing or extending other kernel services, not to mention that it will prevent third-party software from making any changes ( updates or patches ) to any part of the kernel and this feature doesn`t exist at 32-bit versions.

There are several disadvantages for 64-bit technology but all of them will disappear soon ( a couple of years ):

- not everyone can afford to change their computer right away with a more powerful one so this will take years and the developers will continue to release both 32 and 64-bit versions of their programs.
- 64 device drivers are hard to find for several old devices or may not be available at all. Ironically this will change in the future and you won`t find devices compatible with 32-bit versions.
- When using 64-bit all device drivers must be digitally signed
- Some of the 32-bit device drivers may not be supported
- Programs and applications designed for 32-bit may not be compatible with a 64-bit system
- Right now, you may experience difficulties in locating programs that are written for 64-bit only.
- If you would like to use an older computer or laptop you may notice that your hardware devices are not going to work with 64-bit version.
- If you need to run 16-bit programs, they won`t work with 64-bit version and only a part of them worked in 32-bit

Probably the most important limitation of 32-bit is the 4 gigabyte (GB) range or at least that`s how I see things. As I said, the future belongs to 64-bit and 32-bit is living his last moments. Probably after a decade or even less the 64-bit technology will die and it will be replaced by 128-bit or even more.



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