The Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Operating System (OS)

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The Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Operating System (OS)
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#1

You have most likely come across different variants of the same software with 32 bit or 64 bit options and wondered what is the difference between them and how does it impact a regular internet geek like yourself. Let us take a look at the core differences between the two and see which one is the best fit for you.

For starters, 32 bit and 64 bit is an architecture of the hardware which your CPU uses, in the older days, around 1990’s most if not all systems used CPUs with 32 bit programming architecture but as time has progressed technology has moved to newer 64 bit process architecture.

The 32 bit instruction set is often referred to as x86 while the 64 bit one is referred to as x64. If you are running windows on your system you can see 2 different folders with the title program files, one without any suffix and the other with an (x86) suffixed to it.

Why 2 Different Folders?

Since both the 32 bit and 64 bit architecture are fundamentally different processes there are two completely different ways to code for these processes. All applications use something called as shared resources, which on Windows is DLLs and on other operating systems are runtime libraries. If a 32 bit software searches for a DLL in the 64 bit folder it won’t find the required file and in turn crash.

How does Different Architecture Impact Users?

Well, all of this is for developers to think about what about normal users? How does a 32 bit or 64 bit OS impact a user? The basic difference between a 32 bit or a 64 bit OS for a consumer is the availability and usability of System memory i.e RAM. On a 32 bit OS the maximum amount of RAM which can be used is 4 GB (3.7 of which is actually usable as some of it is used to store the aforementioned libraries) whereas 64 bit OS can theoretically use 18 billion GB of RAM (Sadly unless we’re Bill Gates I don’t think we can afford that much ram given the current RAM Pricing)

Another key difference is that the current generation multi core CPUs can’t be made with older architecture and therefore any CPU with Two or More than Two cores will most certainly be based on the x64 Platform. As we all know in most cases more number of cores means faster processing and to enable the faster processing we require the x64 Architecture.

How it impacts different Operating Systems

Linux and MacOS both of which are based on a similar framework have different variants to them as well and until recently Linux and Linux distros recommended users to download the 32 bit variants but as CPUs have gotten more powerful with time OSs have too shifted from 32 bit to 64 bits.

Impact on Gamers and Power Users

A lot of the newer AAA titles require multiple cores and are based on the newer 64 bit architecture. Games like GTA 5 or Softwares like CAD don’t play well with the older 32 bit architecture as they require a lot of power to compute the problem.

Why Don’t We Abandon the 32 bit Architecture

Simply put we can’t abandon the older 32 bit architecture because there has already been tremendous development on the platform and to just abandon that and move on wouldn’t be a wise choice.

Final Verdict - Which One should you use?

If your system has more than 4 GB of RAM or if you are planning to upgrade to more than that then you will definitely require a 64 bit OS for the smooth functioning of day to day tasks and for optimum utilization of available resources. Also, if you use any heavy software like tools for engineering or graphic design then you will definitely require more than 4 GB of RAM and thereby a 64 bit OS. I recommend you to use a 64 bit variant of any OS or software you use as that will ensure the longevity and continuous support of the product.

I personally Run Windows 7 and Windows 10 both 64 bit on my rigs. Do let us know what operating system are you currently running on your system and which one do you prefer?


#2

That was a really nice article Yash, here are my thoughts regarding the same. :slight_smile:

What is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows OS

So in the world of computers, there are basically two different sorts of processors, the 32-bit one, and the 64-bit one. These are the two types of processors which could affect your PC’s overall performance.

Well, in simple terms the 64bit processor can handle large amounts of RAM when compared to the 32bit one.
To be more specific, the 32bit processor could only handle 3GB of RAM, whereas the 64bit could easily take up to 17 billion gigabytes of RAM.

Phew, that’s huge! Moreover, the processing time over 32bit is much more slowly when compared to the time which the 64bit processor take.

So how would you know which version do you have?

This is something which is really simple,

Windows 7 –

Just right click on Computer, then click over properties, and over there you can find your version under System Type.

Windows 10 –

Click over the System icon, and then head-over to about, device specifications, and the system settings, here you could find if your system type is either 32bit or 64 bit.

So does using 32bit really restrict the amount of RAM stored?

No matter which 32-bit operating system you are using, you will be limited to 4096MB of RAM because the 32bit system is restricted to this value.

Each process in the 32bit system is capable of 4GB of virtual memory, which is then again separated into 2GB of user-space which an application can use at a single point in time.

What are the other problems with 32bit?

A limited amount of memory is not just the problem with the 32bit systems, additionally, your computers video card and also the motherboard BIOS are allocated the same room in the 4GB of space.

So technically speaking, your system is offering you RAM less than 4GB.

Now, what is so special about 64bit?

Not going to make it complicated for you, in simple terms if the 32bit system is capable of accessing only 4GB of RAM, then a 64bit system can access 17.2 billion gigabytes of system memory.

But then again, this also depends on the type of operating system you are using, if you are using the 64bit home edition then you are limited to only 16GB of RAM because of the licensing issues.

But then if you want to use up to 192GB of RAM, then you can have the Professional or the Ultimate version.

Will the 32bit Applications run on 64bit?

The one word answer to this question is, Yes. Most of your 32bit applications will run in 64bit smoothly without any issues.

But then again there are definitely exceptions like the low-level system applications might not run properly.

Final Verdict

Though both the versions have got its own significance, I would recommend you to go with the 64bit version so that you can use up all the available memory, and this would be really helpful if you are planning to set up a gaming computer sort of thing with some amazing specifications.

Let me know your thoughts on this, which one would you pick? Feel free to share your thoughts with the other users on this forum.