32 Bit Vs 64 Bit - What's the Difference?

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In computing, the terms “32-bit” and “64-bit” refer to the amount of memory a processor can access at a time. A 32-bit system can handle up to 4GB of memory, while a 64-bit system can manage an astonishing 18 quintillion bytes. The shift to 64-bit computing marked a significant advancement, enabling systems to tackle complex tasks and process large datasets with exceptional efficiency. Additionally, 64-bit systems offer enhanced security features and compatibility with a wider range of applications. Ultimately, the choice between 32-bit and 64-bit architecture is pivotal in determining a system’s capabilities, with 64-bit systems being essential for high-performance computing and resource-intensive workloads.

What Makes a System 32 or 64-bit?

Whether a system is 32 or 64 bit is dependent on the processor used inside it, there are three levels in a computer system and each of them can be either 32-bit or 64 bit, they are - the CPU, the Operating System, and the Programs installed. The hierarchy is in the same increasing order, at the lowest level CPU is there, then above that Operating Systems lie, and on top of the OS, the programs run. Each of the three here affects the levels above them, meaning if we are using a 32-bit CPU then we cannot install a 64-bit operating system on it, and if we are on a 32-bit Operating system then we can not install and run 64 bits programs into it.

'64-bit CPUs` is a majorly used CPU architecture today, and 32-bit processors are obsolete in today's era unless a computer is not old, chances are it might be running on a 64-bit processor. 64-bit processors are a lot more powerful as compared to 32-bit processors because they can hold and process so much more information at the same given time. As we have seen above, a 64-bit processor system can have around 18 Quintillion bytes of memory space to hold and process data which is at least some million times more than the 32-bit processor systems which can have a maximum memory space of only up to 4 Gigabytes.

What is 32-Bit Operating System?

32-bit is the CPU architecture type, which means this architecture can process up to 32 bits of data at a time. 32 bit, the number 32 here signifies the number of bits that can be processed by the system in one go, meaning it is the amount of information that a single element in that specific system can have in a data bit format.

Simply, in computer systems, 32 bit is a CPU architecture that can transfer 32 bits of data per clock cycle, which means it is the amount of data or information that the CPU in that system could process, every time it performs some operation. Systems around the 1990s and early 2000s were mainly built on 32-bit architecture systems.

What is 64-Bit Operating System?

Just like 32 bit Operating systems, a 64-bit operating system indicates, that it is running on a 64-bit CPU architecture which means this specific architecture can process information with up to 64 bits of memory space, which in the calculation is about 18 Quintillion bytes of memory or 18 billion Gigabytes (or 16 exabytes). As compared with 32-bit architecture, 64-bit Operating systems are relatively more secure due to the increased security of 64-bit architecture CPUs and are often more stable and efficient as compared to their predecessor. 64-bit computing systems are now a standard architecture on which most of the machines today are built.

Key Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit

The main difference between 32-bit and 64-bit is the amount of memory each can access. A 32-bit system can utilize up to 4GB of RAM, while a 64-bit system can access an astonishing 18 quintillion bytes, which is millions of times more than what an average workstation might require. This disparity in memory capacity profoundly influences performance, making 64-bit systems more efficient and powerful for handling complex tasks and larger datasets. Additionally, 64-bit systems offer enhanced security features and compatibility with a broader range of applications, providing a substantial advantage over their 32-bit counterparts.

32-Bit Vs 64-Bit Operating Systems

Let's now have look at the differences between systems having 32-bit vs 64-bit architecture.

Parameters32 bit Operating Systems64 bit Operating Systems
Data and Storage HandlingA 32-bit operating system can have a maximum of 2322^{32} bits of memory space which is around 4GB, meaning it can only handle and process up to a maximum of 4 Gigabytes of data at a given time.Whereas a 64-bit operating system can have access to a memory space of about 2642^{64} bytes which is around 18 Quintillion bytes or 18 billion Gigabytes of RAM.
System CompatibilityA 32-bit processor can only run a 32-bit Operating system.A 64-bit processor can run both 64-bit as well as 32-bit operating systems (by doing some minor tweaks)
PerformanceA 32-bit system will not be as powerful as a 64-bit system, due to the reason of its limit, with the handling of memory ie. RAM.Whereas a 64-bit system will perform relatively higher as compared with the 32-bit systems.
Application SupportSupports only 32-bit application programs.Supports both 32 and 64-bit application programs.
Usable MemoryIt can have a maximum of 4 Gigabytes of usable memory.It can have up to 18 billion Gigabytes of usable memory.
Processor core and logical core variantsA 32-bit system will only have dual-core and quad-core versions available.In 64-bit operating systems, we can have dual-core, quad-core, Hexa core, and octa-core versions of processors available.
MultitaskingA 32-bit system is not an ideal choice for stress testing and multitasking.Whereas a 64-bit operating system is highly recommended for stress testing environments and to perform multitasking.
OS support32-bit CPUs will only work with 32-bit Operating Systems.Whereas a 64-bit CPU can work with both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
CPU RequirementsA `32 bit CPU requires a 32-bit operating system to function and 32-bit application programs to run on it.Whereas a 64-bit CPU can work with both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and can even run both 32 and 64-bit application programs on it.
Systems AvailableWindows XP, Vista, Linux, etc.Windows 10, Windows 11, Linux, macOS, etc.
Capacity to perform several calculations per secondLowHigh
Task completion SpeedLowHigh
Multitasking ExperienceLags can be observedSmoother functioning
Can utilize new TechnologiesHas limitationsCan effectively utilize it
Memory SupportedAround 4 Gigabytes of RAMMore than 4 Gigabytes of RAM is supported
Gaming and Graphic Oriented TasksLimited support and not very great user experienceSmooth Experience

Advantages of 64-Bit System over 32-Bit System

Let's now have a look at the various advantages that 64-bit operating systems offer as compared to the `32 bit operating systems

1. Usable Memory

32-bit Operating Systems can access a maximum of 2322^{32} bits of memory space which is around 4 Gigabytes of RAM, whereas a 64-bit operating system can address about 2642^{64} bits of memory space which in the calculation is about 18 billion Gigabytes of RAM, which is a mammoth as compared to what a 32-bit system can handle.

2. Resource Availablity

A 64-bit operating system can utilize the system resources more efficiently as compared to the 32-items. For example - installing more amount of RAM than 4 Gigabytes on a 32 bit machine will result in no change in the performance, meaning even if we install `8 gigabytes of memory in a 32-bit operating system it will only be able to utilize a maximum of 4GB of memory and the rest memory will always stay idle, whereas the more resources we add in a 64 bit operating systems the better it will tend to function.

3. Computer Performance

As 32 and 64 signify the number of bits of data that can be processed by the CPU per clock cycle, so more the data could be processed, the faster the system will be, meaning a 64-bit operating system would be able to process more amount of information at the same time as compared to a 32-bit system, and hence will improve the performance significantly.

4. Multitasking

In a 64-bit system, due to the reason that it can process more information per clock cycle ie. every time the CPU performs some operation, multitasking and frequent switching between applications becomes lag-free, which in turn makes the users work on multiple applications simultaneously.

Should You Upgrade to 64-Bit Computers?

If one is not using a really old computer, then they are already on a 64-bit machine, but if we have a system that is running on a 32-bit architecture, then we should surely upgrade it to a '64-bit machine`. Technically there is no way of changing a 32-bit processor into a 64-bit processor as both architectures are different in the way they are, so what should be done? The answer is upgrading to a new system, most of the computers built today are on 64-bit architecture, as it is slowly becoming a standard, which is good for users as well as for developers.

Upgrading to a 64-bit architecture will result in better efficiency and performance in one's system.


  • The choice between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems significantly influences system capabilities.
  • Transitioning to 64-bit computing provides a substantial boost in processing power and memory handling capabilities.
  • 64-bit systems, with access to 18 quintillion bytes of memory space, excel in resource-intensive tasks and multitasking.
  • They offer enhanced security features and compatibility with a wider range of applications.
  • Upgrading to a 64-bit architecture is highly recommended for those still on a 32-bit system, as modern computers predominantly use the 64-bit architecture.
  • Embracing a 64-bit system ensures a smoother, more efficient computing experience and future-proofs the system for upcoming technological advancements and software updates.

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