Aardvark Computer Repair

32-bit Vs. 64-bit Systems: What's The Difference?

Not so long ago, we received a question concerning buying a computer and what all the hype was about concerning 32-bit vs. 64-bit, and so on. Since the gift giving season is rolling around and prices for computer equipment is going down, I decided to try and give you all some help.

To start, let me explain the difference between 32 and 64-bit systems, and the 'why' behind it.

In your computer, you have several 'items' that, normally, you don't concern yourself about. One of those is the 'data buss'. Basically, it connects memory to the rest of the system including the processor, which does all the thinking in your computer.

The 'data buss' is used to move the data around inside your computer. In a 32-bit computer, the width (or size) of the data buss is 32-bits wide. A 64-bit buss is twice as wide so the system can move twice as much data around. Being able to process more data means a faster system -- but only for specific things. Normal office productivity and web surfing will show no significant advantages, whereas graphics processing and scientific calculations will go much faster.

A bit is short for “binary digit.” It is basically how a computer stores and makes references to data, memory, etc. A bit can have a value of 1 or 0, that’s it. So binary code is streams of 1’s and 0’s, such as this random sequence 100100100111.

These bits are also how your processor does calculations. By using 32 bits your processor can represent numbers from 0 to 4,294,967,295 while a 64-bit machine can represent numbers from 0 to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615. Obviously this means your computer can do math with larger numbers, and be more efficient with smaller numbers.

Advantages to 64-bit Computing

  • Efficiency
  • Added Security
  • More RAM = Speed

Disadvantages to 64-bit Computing

  • Legacy hardware or software compatibility