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32 bit vs 64 bit

Last response: in Windows 7
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December 17, 2009 2:08:52 PM

I currently have a desktop that runs windows vista 32 bit, I am planning to upgrade to windows 7 but can't decide whether to install the 32 bit or 64 bit edition, I have some questions:

What are the advantages/disadvantages of 64 bit over 32 bit? (other than recognizing more than 3 GB of RAM)

If I install 64 bit, will I face any incompatibilities with programs that are compatible with 32 bit?

Is the 64 bit edition any slower/faster than the 32 bit?

Is there really any reason to stick with the 32 bit edition?

My specifications: Intel G31, Core 2 Duo E7400@2.80GHz, 4 GB RAM, Geforce 9800 GT, 250 GB hard disk

Thank you

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a b $ Windows 7
December 17, 2009 2:24:53 PM

There's largely no reason to stick with 32 bit any more. Programs won't cause you any issues unless they're 16bit (ie win95 era), you will need to check for hardware drivers for printers, scanners etc. more than anything else.
December 17, 2009 4:57:57 PM

Only problem I have ran into with 7 64 bit is a problem with punkbuster - used with COD 4. All other software/games work so far. I don't have a printer connected to it. Networking runs fast - 99% over a 100 meg link - ugh need gig switch soon.
64 bit WILL be faster once more companies start putting out 64 bit software.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 17, 2009 6:38:07 PM

For the most part the only compatibility problems you're likely to have are for hardware devices that don't have 64-bit drivers available. If you have something like a scanner or a tablet that's more than a couple of years old then check the manufacturer's web site to make sure that a 64-bit driver is available for Vista or Windows 7 (the Vista drivers will work fine on Windows 7).

Assuming that's all squared away, you're probably better off going with the 64-bit version since it won't restrict you to a maximum of < 4GB of memory should you decide to upgrade before this machine becomes obsolete. Memory is the cheapest and often the most effective upgrade you can do - you really don't want to make it more difficult than it has to be.
December 17, 2009 10:47:33 PM

The only reason i kept 32 bits on is that i couldn't find drivers for my sata motherboard , and you might get things like that,but if you have brand new hadware and capable of 64 bit it won't be a problem for you, as Sturm says, we need more support from the manufacturers.
a c 215 $ Windows 7
December 17, 2009 10:59:14 PM

damian86 said:
The only reason i kept 32 bits on is that i couldn't find drivers for my sata motherboard , and you might get things like that,but if you have brand new hadware and capable of 64 bit it won't be a problem for you, as Sturm says, we need more support from the manufacturers.


That support is already here. All of the major OEM's are now, and have been for quite some time, supporting 64 bit operating systems. Older systems not capable (as well as a select few that are) may not be supported by certain OEM's, but with newer hardware there shouldn't be any problems.
December 17, 2009 11:08:19 PM

my motherboard was left behind...
December 18, 2009 4:07:50 AM

Thank you for the replies, but what are the advantages of 64 bit?

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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 9:13:30 AM
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The basic advantage is that you can use a full 4GB and more of memory, whereas a 32-bit version of Windows is stuck at somewhat less than 4GB (depending on how much address space is reserved by your video card).

64-bit Windows can run both 32- and 64-bit programs equally well. An individual 32-bit program won't be able to access the extra memory on its own, but if, for example, you run three 2GB programs they'll all be able to fit into RAM under a 64-bit OS.

And if you're not using all that extra memory for programs then Windows puts it to use for caching file accesses.
a c 215 $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 10:56:16 AM

sminlal said:
The basic advantage is that you can use a full 4GB and more of memory, whereas a 32-bit version of Windows is stuck at somewhat less than 4GB (depending on how much address space is reserved by your video card).

64-bit Windows can run both 32- and 64-bit programs equally well. An individual 32-bit program won't be able to access the extra memory on its own, but if, for example, you run three 2GB programs they'll all be able to fit into RAM under a 64-bit OS.

And if you're not using all that extra memory for programs then Windows puts it to use for caching file accesses.


In case the OP is wondering what exactly you mean by "a full 4GB and more", 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium can address up to 16GB of RAM. 64 bit Windows 7 Professional and above can address up to 192GB.
a b $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 12:38:50 PM

basket687 said:
Thank you for the replies, but what are the advantages of 64 bit?



To be honest, given your system spec, I'm not sure I'd bother... But by way of answering your question:


Great Article on the Where’s Why’s and Benefits of a 64 bit OS and Memory:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3602/sponsored_fe...

Who Ate My Memory
http://blogs.msdn.com/dcook/archive/2007/03/25/who-ate-...


Official MSDN page on memory limits
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(VS.85).aspx

Mark Russinovich on Physical Memory
http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2008/0...
December 18, 2009 2:39:28 PM

I have another question: How much is the 64 bit OS more RAM hungry than 32 bit? And will applications be more RAM hungry when they run under a 64 bit OS?
a b $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 4:22:46 PM

basket687 said:
I have another question: How much is the 64 bit OS more RAM hungry than 32 bit? And will applications be more RAM hungry when they run under a 64 bit OS?




64 bit does consume a marginal amount more memory because the (internal) pointers used for location references have to be 64 bits in length - Twice that of 32 bit. However, contrary to popular belief, this only applies to the pointers and *NOT* to your data or applications. The app that requires 759Mb worth of data will still require that exact same 759 Mb. Only the pointers used to reference the address locations grow in size. Not the data itself.
a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 5:26:17 PM

I've seen posts that suggest 64-bit Windows 7 takes perhaps around 200MB more of memory than 32-bit Windows 7 does.

A 32-bit application won't use up any more memory running under a 64-bit OS than it would running under a 32-bit OS. (There are some extra DLLs loaded to do the 32- to 64-bit thunking, but they're accounted for by the extra space I quoted above for the OS).

As Scott mentioned, a 64-bit application will be slightly bigger (for example, the stack is composed of 8-byte words instead of 4-byte words), but it's a pretty minor difference.
a b $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 6:04:44 PM

sminlal said:
As Scott mentioned, a 64-bit application will be slightly bigger (for example, the stack is composed of 8-byte words instead of 4-byte words), but it's a pretty minor difference.

It obviously depends upon the application, but a 64-bit one could be smaller (by which I mean have a smaller memory footprint) because of two factors:

1. The 64-bit api passes function arguments in registers (up to a point) rather than on the stack.

2. Because in 64-bit mode the processor has twice as many general purpose registers (not to mention the fact that they are twice as big) a good compiler will keep many variables in registers rather than in memory.

Take these two together and, with the right program, you could end up using less memory and having an appreciably faster application. I've always found 64-bit OSes to be a bit "snappier", which I put down to these factors and a good compiler. Multimedia applications will also benefit from the larger number of (again larger) multimedia registers available and the ability to process larger chunks of data.
a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 18, 2009 7:42:11 PM

Ijack said:
The 64-bit api passes function arguments in registers (up to a point) rather than on the stack.
This is true for the first four arguments, but it doesn't save any memory because stack space is reserved for these arguments anyway. See: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc300794.aspx
May 22, 2011 2:36:05 AM

The_Prophecy said:
In case the OP is wondering what exactly you mean by "a full 4GB and more", 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium can address up to 16GB of RAM. 64 bit Windows 7 Professional and above can address up to 192GB.


If the BIOS in the motherboard permit that. Nobody mention that aspect yet.
May 24, 2011 5:29:32 PM

I agree with ijack .... people tend to focus on memory size as the difference between 32- and 64-bit, because it is pretty obvious.

What is usually missing from the discussion is that the 64-bit processors have more cpu registers, and the compilers take advantage of this.

Calling conventions mentioned above is one aspect; the other is that a program can use the extra registers for computational use. A 32-bit program has to constantly refresh cpu registers from memory, because the number of registers is scarse.

This puts more pressure on the memory subsystem.

So even if you run 32-bit programs, the system will be quicker, because the kernel services are optimized; the kernel is running faster servicing your 32-bit application requests.
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