The Difference Between A 32bit And A 64bit Os

Modern computers provide more options.

Ever since Windows XP, most operating systems have been provided in 32-bit and 64-bit varieties. At its most basic, this refers to how much instruction processing the central processing unit, or CPU, can handle at one time. Sixty-four-bit operating systems can take advantage of 64-bit processors, which are built to access more memory at once but are unable to do so without specialized software, such as the operating system itself.


Both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems are available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Mac OS does not currently provide a fully 64-bit system, but Leopard and then Snow Leopard have provided increased ability to use a 64-bit processor.


In this case, a bit refers to the number of binary digits—0s or 1s, or “off” and “on”—that a processor can handle at once. With a 32-bit processor, it is of course 32 digits, and similarly, 64-bit processor can process 64 bits. This has an adverse affect on the computer’s maximum memory that it can utilize, whereas 32-bit was only able to handle 4 gigabytes, or GB, of RAM, 64-bit could use up to 17 million GB of memory.


Developers can also design each individual piece of software other than the operating system for either 32-bit or 64-bit. While 64-bit operating systems can run 32-bit software in compatibility mode, they may not run as smoothly and there is even the possibility of crashing or complete noncompliance. Drivers that help run your hardware may also not be compatible with 64-bit operating systems and can cause malfunctioning of these pieces of hardware or simple inability to read them at all.

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In the case of Windows, the versions of the operating system that are 64-bit provide extra security features that the 32-bit version does not. These include kernel patch protection, support for hardware-backed Data Execution Protocol, mandatory driver signing, removal of the 16-bit system and removal of support for 32-bit drivers to prevent the previously mentioned malfunctions. All 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, such as Home Premium and Ultimate, come with these features included.


Most importantly, 64-bit operating systems and their corresponding processors provide increased speed performance for computer, particularly in the realm of multitasking. These operating systems are able to handle more programs at once with less slowdown. Additionally, the programs that are designed specifically for 64-bit will see increased performance within that single piece of software as well. This performance boost is crucial when using memory intensive programs such as video-editing software or advanced games.