32-bit vs. 64-bit Computing?

Sixty four bit, has been around since the beginning of computing, but it wasn’t in the mainstream marketplace until just a few years ago.  You’ve probably seen that Windows® 7 comes in 32 and 64-bit version and wondered what the difference is.  Trying not to get too technical, we will explain the difference.

The Difference:
32-bit and 64-bit refer to the size of data in terms of integer values. CPUs and memory simply support 64-bit long values. It’s easy to think about it in terms of literal addresses, too.  Say you have a phone book, we’ll call it a the 32-bit phone book, and the integers are the contact information for people.  The 32-bit phone book can list a total of over 4 billion (4,000,000,000) addresses/integers.  Contrast that with the range of 64-bit addressing, which is over 18 quintillion (18,000,000,000,000,000,000) addresses/integers, you can say that the “64-bit phone book” would be able to store the names and contact information for all the people that ever were or will be on the planet.  For your computer, this gives you support for more system memory (RAM), and that means better multitasking and generally improved performance and speed.

How to get it:
It’s easy to get a 64-bit system now.  Many new computers, applications, and operating systems are designed around the 64-bit architecture.  Due to both availability and price, your average desktop computer system supports between 8 GB and 16 GB memory maximum, with high-performance motherboards, systems, and servers supporting much higher total, but still nowhere near the theoretical limit of the 64-bit range.  That’s just fine because buying anything near a petabyte (PB) of memory in this day and age would be a poor decision.

Just go with it:
The obvious benefit to having more memory (RAM) in your system is that it lets you hold more data in a place that the CPU can access quickly.  Your RAM is a much faster resource than using virtual memory that your hard drive needs to store, in part because of the way the data is stored, on chips, and because of the speed of the interfaces.  You may notice when your system is low on available RAM, it begins to chug and hang; that’s your hard drive trying to keep up with the speedy demands of the CPU.

So the bottom line is the 64-bit architecture gives you the capacity to last for many years to come, even considering how fast technology advances.

Please note: Although 64bit versions of the OS are faster at alot of things there are still a number of applications that either flat out don’t work on a 64bit OS or have minor to major issues.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

  • 08/11/2010
  • IT