As we grow into the world of technology using myriads of devices and software we come across these two terms often. On the CDs and game boxes, we had 8bit games, 16-bit games. And when installing a new OS we have a 32-bit version and 64-bit versions. For example, Windows 10 is 64 bit and runs on all modern CPUs. They are titled X86 architecture in some places.
But, which one is better? What should we use?
The Advancement of Processors
Back in the days when computers became popular, in the early 1980s, people didn’t have much understanding of what processors were and what they did? They saw these little machines with games and colorful stuff on them. However, to make processors more capable, to engage in reading and writing from large memory banks, use that extra RAM and run faster advancements were made.
These advancements meant designing processors that were 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, and now 64 bit. These are the kind of abbreviations that have stuck with us for a very long time. And, now marketing guys make use of these to claim that something is better than others.
But, for an average user, is that really the case? Do we find ourselves in a situation where we can make use of this information and make an informed decision? As it turns out all of today’s computers and software are 64 bit and as consumers, we do not have to deal with the option anymore. But, still, some entry-level devices and even software like Windows 10 are still available as 32-bit. These are still there when memory requirements are much lower and processors need not run that fast.
It Dates Back to the 1970s
If it won’t surprise you then nothing else will. Yes, the 64-bit processors dating back to the 1970s but were never really intended to be marketed to consumers for mass sale. But this was going to change soon. With AMD, a new player in the market, releasing the first AMD64 CPU named Opteron in April of 2003, there was ablaze in the market for 32-Bit vs. 64-Bit CPUs.
For consumers, it meant that they had the option to go for a better and more capable future-proof CPU inside their desktops. It was really a big deal. But, it also meant that the software had to be specifically written to support the extended architecture and make use of those extra bits and, this shook the world to the core that Apple was forced to introduce the Power Mac G5. This had it’s legacy G5 64-bit processors.
And as we know to date, Apple has always tried to make things futuristic and ditch all standard features starting from USBs to headphone jacks. But that is a discussion for another article. Soon after that A7, the world’s first 64-bit smartphone processors were announced in 2013. It was touted as 2X CPU performances and 2X GPU performances. And, right off the bat, on the paper, this was the ultimate. But, would the consumers feel any difference using them for most parts no.
How All this Bit-Stuff Actually Work for Personal Computers?
The term bit comes from the amalgamation of two words ?Binary Digit? or in a short bit. This binary digit in the computer world refers to the idea of 0s and 1s. A bit can always take either of the two/binary values, either a 0 or 1. So, an 8 bit means, it can have 2 raised 8 values, or a 16-bit can have 2 raised 16 values as their total capacity. So, as we break these into binary, a 4-bit machine can have 14 values or combinations of 1 and 0s, and a 5-bit machine can have 32 different values. This meant a CPU with 64-bit can have quite a large number of possible values of these binary digits and a longer instruction code. It meant that it could handle more memory and tackle complex mathematical operations.
But, in terms of marketing and selling products, 64-bit refers to the generation of computers that had 64-bit processors inside them. Then, it makes more sense to use short forms. For example, saying that this computer screen can display 1024 unique colors per channel per pixel, we can simply say, this is a 10-bit monitor. This largely simplifies our life, and we can sell the consumers a better product by a higher number. A bigger number means it is better and it is more expensive.
So, more bits mean more resolution, better audio, more colors and so on.
Do You have a 32-Bit or 64-Bit Computer?
Well, if you purchased something between 2007 and thereafter, you most probably have a 64-bit CPU inside. But, are you using all those 64 bits, maybe not. It also requires software that can take advantage of that extra 32-bit vs 64-bit memory.
So, when someone tells they have a 64-bit computer, it means they have a 64-bit CPU. Today, 64-bit is used in all sorts of marketing language. From audio sampling, monitor resolution to GPUs. So, knowing the jargon will help you understand what it means in which context.
Generally, all the latest and big numbers are always better or more powerful. But, not always we need all that. So, while a 32-bit machine can easily address 4GB of RAM, a 64-bit can address 16 billion GB of RAM. So, does anyone need that kind of RAM in their computer, of course not?
- A 32-bit CPU is an older generation vs a 64-bit which is a newer generation.
- 32-bit software is older than 64-bit software.
- Both these have their own advantages and use purposes, and 32-bit vs 64-bit can be still used.
- As a consumer, you can choose to use whichever one you want.
As tech advances, 32-bit vs 64-bit, 64-bit has become the standard for good, because of it if future-proofing the industry and the masses. We are using them without any difficulties, as intended.