32-Bit vs. 64-Bit: How They Are Different

32-Bit vs. 64-Bit: How They Are Different

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Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager
Updated on Dec 19, 2023 19:36 IST

The main difference between 32-bit and 64-bit systems lies in their memory handling capabilities, performance, and the amount of data they can efficiently process. 32-bit can directly access up to 4 GB of RAM, while 64-bit systems can theoretically address up to 18.4 million TB (terabytes) of memory. The move towards 64-bit architecture allows for more powerful and capable computing, particularly in handling larger amounts of data and performing more complex tasks.

32 bit vs 64 bit

Modern computers allow both 32-bit and 64-bit applications to run. Nowadays, 64-bit computers are the standard, and companies rarely or no longer make dedicated 32-bit systems. Explore the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit in detail to know why. 

In this blog on 32-bit vs. 64-bit, find out the following.

  1. 32-bit vs. 64-bit: Key Differences
  2. What is 32-bit?
  3. What is 64-bit?

32-Bit vs. 64-Bit: Key Differences

Find out the against which parameters, 32 bit is different from 64 bit. 

Parameters 32-Bit 64-Bit
Operating system and CPU Requirements Allows only 32-bit OS – Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 10, Linux Allows both 64 bit and 32 bit systems –
Windows Vista, Linux, Windows 7 onwards, macOS
Storage Space in RAM Up to 4 GB More than 4 GB
Performance & Stability Cannot handle multitasking Ideal for multitasking
Cores supported Up to quad-core From dual-core to octa-core
Software Supported Allow only 32-bit software Allows both 32-bit and 64-bit software
Directory Program Files (x86) in a 64-bit system Program Files without any suffixes
Good For  Lightweight apps Best for all types and sizes of apps

What is 32-bit?

In computers, 32-bit refers to the CPU architecture that is able to transfer 32 bits of information per clock cycle. It refers to how the 32-bit system stores, reads, and processes data. 

The 32-bit system was first released by Intel back in 1985. It was known as 32-bit 80386. Prior to that, personal computers during the 1960s were 16 bit. 

Explore what is operating system?

A 32-bit system is able to access 232 memory, which is a limited amount of RAM for some applications or software to function. In 32 bits, the signed range of integer values that can be stored is between -2147483648 and 2147483647. This value makes up for 4 GB of RAM on a Windows system. 

And if you install more RAM on a 32-bit system, the performance is unlikely to get positively affected. 

Also, only a few Windows operating systems run on 32-bit. They are Windows 98, Windows XP and Windows 95. 

Check out: AMD vs Intel

If you want to know which files run on 32-bit on your Windows computer, go to Program Files on C Drive and find 32-bit files under the folder Program Files x86 (which are represented in the .dll file format). 

What is 64-bit?

64-bit computers were introduced to the public, much later than 32-bit systems, in the 2000s.  A 64-bit system can handle more RAM than 4 GB, as it can handle up to 17,179,869,184 GB of memory. This makes multitasking possible and allows you to run heavier software of your computer. 

Almost all the current Windows systems come with 64-bit – Windows 8, Windows 10, and so on. In fact, all new Windows 10 systems with version 2004 onwards are set to run on 64-bit only. 

Do note, that a 64-bit system can run 32-bit or 64-bit versions of an installed operating system. The 32-bit programs will work in a 64-bit environment. The opposite is not possible. 

So, to find your 64-bit files on your Windows system, you will have to check the Program Files folder and check inside the Program Files without any denomination next to Program Files x86. 

Parting Thoughts

Hopefully, you are now able to distinguish between 32-bit and 64-bit better. Explore operating systems courses

FAQs

Which is better, 32-bit or 64-bit?

Performance wise, 64-bit systems are generally preferred, especially when handling large datasets or performing complex computation. These systems can utilise more RAM, which is beneficial for memory-intensive applications or multitasking. They can handle more than 4 GB of RAM (which is the limit for 32-bit systems). However, some older software might only run on 32-bit systems. While most modern software is compatible with both architectures, this could be a consideration for specific applications. The latter also might be more suitable for older hardware with limited resources since they generally require less memory and processing power compared to 64-bit systems.

Will 32Bit run faster on 64-bit?

Running a 32-bit application on a 64-bit system doesn't necessarily make it faster. The speed at which an application runs depends more on various factors such as how well the application is optimised, the efficiency of the code, and the capabilities of the hardware.

What are the disadvantages of 64bit?

The disadvantages of 64-bit systems include potential compatibility issues with older software and hardware, increased resource usage, complexity for developers, larger disk space requirements, and occasionally higher hardware demands.

Can I install 32-bit Windows on a 64-bit processor?

Yes, you can generally install a 32-bit version of Windows on a computer with a 64-bit processor. Most modern processors, even those that support 64-bit computing, are backward compatible and can run both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. However, you can't install a 64-bit version of Windows on a 32-bit processor because the processor lacks the necessary architecture to support a 64-bit operating system.

Will 64-bit slow down my computer?

In general, installing a 64-bit operating system on a computer designed to support it should not inherently slow down the computer. In fact, 64-bit systems often provide better performance, especially when handling larger amounts of data or running memory-intensive applications. However, if your hardware is outdated or doesn't meet the minimum requirements for a 64-bit system, you might experience performance issues. Always ensure that your hardware meets the specifications recommended for the 64-bit operating system to run optimally.

About the Author
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Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio