Difference Between 32-bit and 64-bit System and Processor


Main Difference

While using computers most people come across two versions of windows which are 32 bit and 64 bit. People get confused about the working and differences between these two versions and for the ease, they are explained here in detail. Over the years, computer and their processing systems have been innovated gradually. From simple calculators to now advanced systems the use of bits and bytes has been necessary for understanding these computing units. Therefore, in simple words, 32 bit systems are the ones that use system memory which has the maximum capability of 32-bit registers and can store memory of 2^32 values. A 64-bit system is the one the system can save as much as 64-bit memory registers and have the value of 2^62 which is way bigger than the 32 bit systems. Over the years with the advancements in the central processing units and the higher amount of data they have to save to run the system the 64-bit processors have taken over as they provide more space and range because of larger integer size. The greater size of integer makes sure that there is more room for data to be processed in an accurate and faster way. It also makes easy for the pointer to notify the exact location of the data and find multiple locations at one time. The total value that a 64-bit processor can save as compared to a 32-bit processor is 4 billion times greater. Most of the 32-bit systems can run on processors that support 64-bit memory but the reverse is not possible, and the user has to upgrade their applications and CPU software to use the higher memory products. 4 GB RAM is enough to run the 32-bit system but for RAMs with greater sizes 64-bit systems are compulsory. Since most platforms are regularly updated, therefore, 64-bit systems provide more space and information bits for them to function properly.

Comparison Chart

32-bit System and Processor64-bit System and Processor
Cache ValueA 32-bit system can have a maximum cache value of 550 MBA 64-bit system can carry system cache up to 1 terabyte.
RAMA 32-bit system works best on 4 GB RAMA 64-bit system works better on sizes such as 8 0r 16 GB.
MemoryCan accommodate 4,294,967,296 different values.Can make use of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 different values.
Operating SystemWorks best on windows 98 and windows vista.Works well on windows 8 to windows 8 and beyond.

Definition of 32-bit Processor

These systems were the primary processing elements for different computers and devices at the back end of 20th century. Ever since the 16-bit processors became irrelevant, they took over and provided enough memory required for the CPU to function correctly. All the components and the application that are present on such a system are 32-bit and work on the integers which are 32 bits wide. Most of the computers which had Windows 95, Windows 98 and even Windows XP used the 32-bit version of processors. It can process virtual memory of about 4 GB and has a cache limit of 1 GB which is far greater than its previous versions. The page size for a 32-bit processor can be up to 16 terabytes. All the operating systems which are based on this technology cannot work on the latest versions of 64 bit and have to be upgraded to function properly. Even currently these versions are being used as most of the applications have not yet upgraded to the 64-bit systems. It took a decade for the 32-bit versions to take over the previous versions.


Definition of 64-bit Processor

A 64-bit system will not run on a 32-bit system but can accommodate the lower version to work on it. The main components of a computer include processor, operating system and applications and they all have to be compatible with 64-bit versions to work properly. Having a 64-bit system means that the computer is able to store 264 values and has a capacity billions of time greater than the 32-bit versions. To work, they require RAM size larger than 4GB and work best if the size is 8GB or 16 GB. It can manage memory more significant than 32-bit and provides a better platform for accessing the required data in the junk of bits present, and an added advantage is that many 64-bit applications have 32-bit coding in them. Therefore, the accommodation of the previous version is possible. It has a virtual memory limit of 16 TB while the system cache limit reaches up to 1 TB. In the case of page size, the perimeter extends to several terabytes making it far greater than the 32-bit processor. To upgrade to this version, all the drivers installed for the device also have to be similar to the 64-bit processor as 32-bit drives halt in the newer version.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. A 32-bit system can have a maximum cache value of 550 MB while a 64-bit system can carry system cache up to 1 terabyte.
  2. A 32-bit system works best on 4 GB RAM while a 64-bit system works better on sizes such as 8 0r 16 GB.
  3. A 32-bit system can accommodate 4,294,967,296 different values while a 64-bit system can make use of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 different values which is several billion times greater.
  4. The 32-bit system works best on windows 98 and windows vista, but the 64-bit system works well on windows 8 to windows 8 and beyond.
  5. A 32-bit system can run on the new 64-bit system in some cases, but the 64-bit system will not run on an outdated version.
  6. 32-bit System has less cache and page file size while for a 64-bit processor the sizes can reach many terabytes.

Comparison Video

YouTube video


Computer architecture is something that is a mystery for people who are general users and do not have a detailed knowledge of it. The two terms 32-bit System and Processor and 64-bit System and Processor are different ones in the working and functions. This article, therefore, gives a proper understanding of the two types for people to get a clearer idea.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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