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What is a difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Operating System?

32-bit and 64-bit computing is the ability of any operating system to hold the maximum size of memory.

32-bit Operating Systems

32-bit operating system can handle maximum 2’s power 32, as we take 2’s power 32 we will have the following.

2^32 = 4294967296  (4 x 10^9 in scientific notation)

Let’s start converting units.

4294967296/1024 = 4194304KB – Kilobyte
4194304/1024 = 4096MB – Megabyte
4096/1024 = 4GB – Gigabyte

So maximum size of memory (RAM – Random Access Memory) can be handled by 32-bit operating system is 4GB.

64-bit Operating Systems

64-bit operating system can handle maximum 2’s power 64, as we take 2’s power 64 we will have the following.

2^64 = 18446744073709551616 (1.8 x 10^19 in scientific notation)
18446744073709551616/1024 = 18014398509481984KB – Kilobyte
18014398509481984/1024 = 17592186044416MB – Megabyte
17592186044416/1024 = 17592186044416GB – Gigabyte
17592186044416/1024 = 16777216TB – Terabyte
16777216/1024 = 16384PB – Petabyte
16384/1024 = 16EB – Exabyte

Maximum size of memory (RAM – Random Access Memory) can be handled by 64-bit operating system is 16EB – Exabyte.

32-bit computing is also known as x86 platform and 64-bit is known as x64 platform.

One of the common misunderstanding while people talking about 64-bit computing is double capability of 32-bit, honestly it’s not.
64-bit processor has 4398046511104 times larger ability to handle the memory, this is a really really huge number.


Salman Ahmed
Salman Ahmed is an IT Pro with 10+ years of experience in IT industry such as system and network engineering, data centers, virtualization and security. Working as a Sr. System Administrator in Saudi based engineering consulting company to handle a wider scope of responsibilities to keep IT operations running smoothly, prevent problems, tech support, network / system monitoring to improve performance and ensure 24×7 availability of all infrastructure resources.

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