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Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

32-Bit Vs. 64-Bit Operating Systems: What is the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

There are two types of processors existing in computing- the 32-bit and 64-bit processors. The type of processor used in an operating system (OS) tells us how much memory it can access from the CPU register. There is a range of difference between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

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For example,

  • 32-bit system – It can ideally access about 232 memory addresses. It is equal to 4 GB (gigabytes) of physical memory or RAM. It can also access more than 4 GB of physical memory, but not very efficiently.
  • 64-bit system – It can ideally access about 264 memory addresses. It is equal to 18 Quintillion Bytes of physical memory or RAM. In short, it can handle any amount of memory that is greater than 4 GB easily.

What is a 32-Bit Operating System?

It is a CPU architecture type that holds the capacity to transfer 32 bits of data. It refers to the amount of data and information that your CPU can easily process when performing an operation. A majority of the computers produced in the early 2000s and 1990s were 32-bit machines.

One bit in the register can typically reference an individual byte. Thus, the 32-bit system is capable of addressing about 4,294,967,296 bytes (4 GB) of RAM. Its actual limit is less than 3.5 GB (usually) because a portion of the register stores various other temporary values apart from the memory addresses.

What Is a 64-Bit Operating System?

The 64-bit microprocessor allows computer systems to process information, data, and memory addresses represented by 64 bits. Such a system can typically reference 16 exabytes (17,179,869,184 GB), or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes of memory.

It is numerous million times more than what an average workstation would require to access. A 64-bit system (a computer with a 64-bit processor) has the capacity to access more than 4 GB of RAM. It means that if a computer has 8 GB of RAM, it requires a 64-bit processor. Or else, the CPU will be inaccessible to at least 4 GB of the memory.

Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

Parameter 32-Bit OS 64-Bit OS
Handling of Data and Storage As its name suggests, the 32 bit OS can store and handle lesser data than the 64 bit OS. More specifically, it addresses a maximum of 4,294,967,296 bytes (4 GB) of RAM. The 64 bit OS, on the other hand, can handle more data than the 32 bit OS. It means that it can address a total of 264 memory addresses, which is 18-Quintillion GB of RAM.
Compatibility of System A 32-bit processor system could properly run a 32-bit OS, but it cannot run the 64-bit OS at its full capability. A 64-bit processor system can run either a 32-bit or 64-bit version of an installed operating system (OS).
Application Support The 64-bit programs and applications won’t work. The 32-bit programs and applications will work with no hassle.
Performance The factor of performance in a 32-bit processor is less efficient than the 64-bit processor. It exhibits a higher performance than the 32-bit processor.
Addressable Space It has an addressable space of 4 GB. These have an addressable space of 16 GB.
OS Support It needs a 32-bit operating system. This one can run on both 32-bit and the 64-bit operating system.
Multi-Tasking Support The 32-bit system is not a very ideal option for multi-tasking and stress-testing. For multitasking and stress testing, the 64-bit processor is better. It also works well for the execution of other heavy applications.
OS and CPU Requirements The 32-bit applications and operating systems require 32-bit CPUs. The 64-bit operating system needs a 64-bit CPU, and the 64-bit applications require a 64-bit CPU and OS.
Systems Available These support Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, and Linux. These support Windows XP Professional, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Vista, Linux, and Mac OS X.
Limits in Memory A 32-bit system has a limit of 32 bit Windows 3.2 GB of RAM. The limit in its addressable space doesn’t allow you to use the entire physical memory space of 4GB. A 64-bit system enables its users to store up to 17 Billion GB of RAM.

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