What is 32bit and 64bit operating system?
When installing an operating system you have the option of using the 32-bit or 64-bit version. When you buy a computer CPU or smartphone, you discover that there are 32 and 64 bit processors. What is the difference between them? Which is better? Do you really notice any improvement between one or the other? We will try to answer these questions.
In computing, many concepts are associated with bits, because bits are the DNA of computer science, and therefore everything revolves around them.
Depending on the number of existing letters and numbers, and other technical issues, it was decided to group the bits from 8 to 8, to format one byte. This grouping is used not only for coding, but in other concepts such as the size of records (a kind of transport boxes) that move data from one site to another within a program. That is why we now have 32-bit (8 x 4) or 64-bit (8 x 8) operating systems and processors, always multiples of eight. Sometimes it is also written as 64-bit or x64.
The evolution of the processors
We have seen how the bits are grouped not only to count, but also to translate from the conventional language used in programming to the binary language of computers. When designing a CPU or processor, a key fact is the size of the records, used to transport data between the processor and memory, among other things. The number of bits that can be transported is the base of the processor, and sets limits such as the maximum memory you can use, or the data accessible in a CPU clock cycle. For example, an 8-bit register allows a maximum of 256 combinations, so you can only access 256 memory addresses, unless more than one register is used at the same time. But a processor has a limited number of records for different tasks, so you can only use one or two to access memory.
We do not want to turn the article into a boring technical tutorial, but basically this explanation helps us discover that the bits of a processor set several limitations, such as the amount of memory you can access, or the processing speed.
Very often we find ourselves thinking:
Will this 32-bit software work on my 64-bit operating system?
Will this 64-bit software work on my computer?
32-bit systems have been part of the mainstream computer for more than a decade since the time of i386. Therefore, most of the software and operating system code written during this time has been 32-bit compatible.
32-bit systems can face up to 4 GB of memory at one time. Some modern applications require more memory than this to complete their tasks. This and advances in chip manufacturing technology led to the development of 64-bit processors for conventional computing.
So here comes the problem, much of the software available today is still 32 bits, but the processors have migrated to 64 bits. Operating systems are slowly reaching. Finally even the applications will be updated. But for now, we have to face up to all combinations of 32 and 64 bits of hardware, operating system and applications.
To run a 64-bit application, you need the support of all lower levels (64-bit OS and 64-bit processor).
To run a 64-bit OS, you need the support of its lowest level (a 64-bit processor).
A 32-bit OS runs on a 32 or 64 bit processor without problems.
Similarly, a 32-bit application will run on any combination of operating system and processor (except a combination of a 32-bit and 64-bit OS processor that is not possible). Normally this is achieved by emulating that it is a feature of the operating system, part of the main operating systems.
Device drivers run in parallel to the operating system. Emulation is done at the operating system level and is available at its top layer: the application. Therefore, it is not possible to install a 32-bit device driver in a 64-bit operating system.
Answers to common questions
Will a 64-bit CPU run a program (32-bit) in a 64-bit version of an operating system?
Yes, he will do it. 64-bit systems are compatible with 32-bit counterparts.
Will a 64-bit OS run a standard application on a 64-bit processor?
Again, it will. This is due to compatibility with previous versions.
Can I run Windows 2000 and WXP on a 64-bit CPU and use the old software?
Yes, a 32-bit operating system (Windows 2000 and WXP) is running on a 64-bit processor. Also, you must be able to run “old software” on a 64-bit OS.
However, before closing, Let me also cite that many times, a 64-bit software contains 32-bit code snippets. Similarly 32-bit software (usually very old) may have some 16-bit code. Note that the 16-bit code will not run on a 64-bit operating system. This is one of the reasons behind some 32-bit programs does not work on 64-bit operating systems.
The most important change for Windows 7 64-bit users is the drivers. Controllers are programs that handle interactions between different pieces of hardware; 64-bit operating systems require specially coded 64-bit drivers. 32-bit drivers do not work on a 64-bit version of Windows 7. While many driver packages include both versions, others do not. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows 7, choose this option when installing drivers for a new device. Some antivirus specialization and firewall programs also require 64-bit code to run correctly on 64-bit versions of Windows.
32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions
What is the difference between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows?
The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the processor form of the equipment (also called a CPU), it handles information. The 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more efficiently than a 32-bit system.