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32-bit and 64-bit explained

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32-bit and 64-bit explained


Updated 11. January 2012 - 12:11 by Remah

Will this 32-bit software run on my 64-bit operating system? or Will this 64-bit software run on my computer? If you've asked these questions then this tutorial should help you to understand the concepts of 32-bit and 64-bit computing. We'll look at your computer system as three parts: the hardware, the operating system and the application programs. At the end we'll look at some of the common questions people have. 32-bit versus 64-bit As the number of bits increases there are two important benefits. More bits means that data can be processed in larger chunks which also means more accurately. More bits means our system can point to or address a larger number of locations in physical memory. 32-bit systems were once desired because they could address (point to) 4 Gigabytes (GB) of memory in one go. Some modern applications require more than 4 GB of memory to complete their tasks so 64-bit systems are now becoming more attractive because they can potentially address up to 4 billion times that many locations. Since 1995, when Windows 95 was introduced with support for 32-bit applications, most of the software and operating system code has been 32-bit compatible. Here is the problem, while most of the software available today is 32-bit, the processors we buy are almost all 64-bit. So how long will the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit systems take? The main issue is that your computer works from the hardware such as the processor (or CPU, as it is called), through the operating system (OS), to the highest level which is your applications. So the computer hardware is designed first, the matching operating systems are developed, and finally the applications appear. We can look back at the transition from 16-bit to 32-bit Windows on 32-bit processors. It took 10 years (from 1985 to 1995) to get a 32-bit operating system and even now, more than 15 years later, there are many people still using 16-bit Windows applications on older versions of Windows. The hardware and software vendors learnt from the previous transition, so the new operating systems have been released at the same time as the new processors. The problem this time is that there haven't been enough 64-bit applications. Ten years after the PC's first 64-bit processors, installs of 64-bit Windows are only now exceeding those of 32-bit Windows. Further evidence of this inertia is that you are probably reading this tutorial because you are looking to install your first 64-bit software. Your computer system in three parts Now we'll look at those three components of your system. In simple terms they

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are three layers with the processor or CPU as the central or lowest layer and the application as the outermost or highest layer as shown below: To run a 64-bit operating system you need support from the lower level: the 64-bit CPU. To run a 64-bit application you need support from all lower levels: the 64-bit OS and the 64-bit CPU. This simplification will be enough for us to look what happens when we mix the 32-bit and 64-bit parts. But if you want to understand the issue more deeply then you will also need to consider the hardware that supports the CPU and the device drivers that allow the OS and the applications to interface with the system hardware. What 32-bit and 64-bit combinations are compatible and will work together? This is where we get to the practicalities and can start answering common questions. The general rule is that 32-bit will run on a lower level 64-bit component but 64-bit does not run on a lower level 32-bit component: A 32-bit OS will run on a 32-bit or 64-bit processor without any problem. A 32-bit application will run on a 32-bit or 64-bit OS without any problem. But a 64-bit application will only run on a 64-bit OS and a 64-bit OS will only run on a 64-bit processor. These two tables illustrate the same rule: Table 1 What is compatible if I have a 32-bit CPU? Processor (CPU) Operating System (OS) Application Program 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit Yes 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit No 32-bit 64-bit 32-bit No 32-bit 64-bit 64-bit No

Table 2 What is compatible if I have a 64-bit CPU? Processor (CPU) Operating System (OS) Application Program 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit Yes 64-bit 64-bit 32-bit Yes 64-bit 32-bit 32-bit Yes 64-bit 32-bit 64-bit No

The main reason that 32-bit will always run on 64-bit is that the 64-bit components have been designed to work that way. So the newer 64-bit systems are backward-compatible with the 32-bit systems (which is the main reason most of us haven't moved to 64-bit software). An example of backward compatibility is Windows 64-bit. It has software called WOW64 that provides compatibility by emulating a 32-bit system. See the article How Windows 7 / Vista 64 Support 32-bit Applications if you want to know more. One important point that is made in that article is that it is not possible to install a 32-bit device driver on a 64-bit operating system. This is

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because device drivers run in parallel to the operating system. The emulation is done at the operating system level so it is available to the higher layer, the application, but it is not available to the device driver which runs on the same level. Hardware virtualization is the exception to the rule Another question many people have is whether a 32-bit system can run 64-bit software. As more people are looking to use 64-bit Windows they are wanting to try it out on their existing systems. So we are getting more questions about whether they can run it on their 32-bit processor or under their 32-bit OS. Following the general rule, we would expect that you cannot run 64-bit software on a 32-bit system. Except that there is one exception called virtualization. Virtualization creates a virtual system within the actual system. Virtualization can be achieved in hardware or software but it works best if the virtual machine is created in the system hardware. The guest operating system is not aware that there is a host operating system already running. This is the way that a 64-bit operating system can think that it is running on 64-bit hardware without being aware that there is a 32-bit operating system in the mix. Tables 3 and 4 illustrate the result. Provided that the virtual machine can actually be created and isolated by the virtualizing software then the host OS is effectively removed from the equation, so I've grayed it out. We can now apply the general rules for a non-virtualized system to the three remaining layers. Table 3 What is compatible if I have a 32-bit CPU and software virtualization? Processor (CPU) Host Operating System Guest Operating System Application Program 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit Yes 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit No 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit 32-bit No 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit 64-bit No

Table 4 What is compatible if I have a 64-bit CPU and software virtualization? Processor (CPU) Host Operating System Guest Operating System Application Program 64-bit 32/64-bit 64-bit 64-bit Yes 64-bit 32/64-bit 64-bit 32-bit Yes 64-bit 32/64-bit 32-bit 32-bit Yes 64-bit 32/64-bit 32-bit 64-bit No

Before you hurry away to try running 64-bit in a virtual machine, you must check that your computer BIOS supports hardware virtualization. If it does not then hardware virtualization will not work even if the CPU does support it. Emulation of the 64-bit CPU is not an option All the feasible configurations that we have looked at so far have the processors (CPUs) running software that use the instruction set that is native to that processor. Running 64-bit software on a 32-bit processor doesn't work because the 64-bit instructions are not native to a 32-bit processor. But what if I could emulate a 64-bit processor using 32-bit software? It is theoretically possible but practically impossible to emulate a 64-bit processor while running software on a 32-bit processor. Even if you can get non-native 64-bit emulation to work, the virtual machine that duplicates a 64bit CPU would run very slowly because every 64-bit instruction has to be trapped and handled by the emulator. 64-bit memory pointers also have to be converted to work within the 32-bit address space. Furthermore, my understanding is that the x86 (32-bit) processors used in PCs and Apple Macs are not able to completely emulate the x64 (64-bit) instruction set. Some 64-bit instructions cannot be trapped by the emulator. This causes the system to crash when the x86 processor tried to run those x64 instructions.

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Answers to common questions about 32-bit and 64bit systems


Will a 64-bit CPU run a 32-bit program on a 64-bit version of an OS? Yes it will. 64-bit systems are backward-compatible with their 32-bit counterparts. Will a 64-bit OS run a 32-bit application on a 64-bit processor? Yes it will. Again, this is because of backward compatibility. Can 64-bit applications contain 32-bit code? Yes, many times 64-bit software will contain portions of 32-bit code. Similarly 32-bit software (usually very old programs) can have some code in 16bit which is why those 32-bit applications will usually fail to run properly on a 64-bit OS. Can 16-bit applications or code run on 64-bit systems? No, as we said previously. 16-bit code will NOT run on 64-bit OS because the designers did not provide backward-compatibility. This is one reason why some 32-bit programs will not work on 64-bit operating systems. Can a 64-bit CPU with a 32-bit host OS run a virtual machine (VM) for a 64-bit guest OS? Yes. It all depends upon the level of virtualization. With software virtualization it is hardly likely to work, or if it does work it may be very slow. Hardware virtualization will need to be supported by the CPU (e.g. with Intel-VT or AMD-V) and the BIOS.

Answers to common questions about 32- and 64-bit Windows


Can I run Windows 2000 and Windows XP on a 64-bit CPU, and use old software? Yes, a 32-bit OS (Windows 2000 or XP) will run on a 64-bit processor.You should also be able to run older 32-bit software on a 64-bit OS. Is a Windows Vista or Windows 7 license key valid for both 32-bit and 64bit versions? Yes, unless you have an OEM version. If it was installed on your computer when you bought it and you only have one Windows disk then it is almost certainly an OEM version and you will have to buy the other bit version if you want it. If you have two disks, one for 32-bit Windows and one for 64-bit Windows, then you have a non-OEM version so you get to choose which bit version you will use without having to buy another license. See Microsoft Answers for a discussion of these issues. Remember, if you have only bought one license then, even if you have both bit versions on disk, you are only licensed to install and run one version on one computer. How do find out if my system is 64-bit? Microsoft provide resources to help you find out such as FAQ on 32-bit and 64bit Windows and Taking the mystery our of 64-bit Windows. I recommend that you look at downloading SecurAble from Gibson Research Corporation (GRC) which will tell you if you have a 64-bit processor with the useful features of hardware DEP and hardware virtualization. How do I migrate my 32-bit system to 64-bit Windows? There is no upgrade path from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows only from 64-bit Windows. You will almost certainly have to do a clean install of your 64-bit operating system, copy back your data files, and reinstall your 32-bit applications.

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If you want to keep your old install then you can try dual booting or virtualization. How do I run 32-bit software once I have installed 64-bit Windows? Windows 7 64-bit provides a 32-bit compatibility mode called WOW32 (Windows 32-bit on Windows 64-bit) that should run most if not all your applications. See How Windows 64-bit supports 32-bit Applications. If you have 32-bit application you want to run from the Command Prompt then you need to use the WOW64 version of cmd.exe. At the Start Menu select Run and enter the following command. Note that the %systemroot% variable points to your Windows folder so this will work even if Windows is not installed on C: drive: %ytmot\yWW4cdee ssero%SsO6\m.x If your application won't run under Windows 64-bit then try XP Mode, Windows Virtual PC, or other virtualization solution. Be aware that XP Mode reduces your system security and so it should be used as a last resort. How can I tell if my application is 32-bit or 64-bit? There are a number of indicators of the bit type for your program but they are not definitive as you will see if you use guidelines like the following. Windows installs your programs to these folders on your system drive: '\Program Files' for 64-bit programs '\Program Files (x86)' for 32-bit programs In Task Manager, 32-bit processes will usually have a suffix of '*32' and 64bit processes will not. The reason that these indicators cannot be relied upon relates to the way 64bit Windows installs software. 64-bit install packages usually install 64-bit applications or a mixture of 32- and 64-bit components but can even install only 32-bit components. What determines where a component is installed is the registry setting for that component rather than the setting for the install package. Windows also assumes that all components are 32-bit unless told otherwise. This means that a 64-bit component not flagged as 64-bit will install to 32-bit folders and 32-bit registry keys but will execute as 64-bit. You can, with the necessary knowledge, find the information yourself but there are better solutions: Run a system information or audit tool such as Belarc Adviser. Just be aware that most of these types of applications are helpful but not definitive e.g. SIW, MSINFO. I recommend running the PowerShell script from Auditing 32-Bit and 64-Bit Applications with PowerShell which will list all installed applications and their bitness. Just remember to run the 64-bit script to get all versions as the 32-bit script will not have access to the 64-bit portions of the registry. If you want more detail about the modules used by a program then try Dependency Walker, which is also part of Microsoft development tools such as Visual Studio and Visual C++. As with other software running under 64-bit Windows you will get the best results if you run the 32- or 64-bit version of Dependency Walker that matches the application you want to check. Remember that Windows 64-bit restricts access to the relevant 32-bit or 64-bit portions of the registry. What are the differences between Windows 32-bit and 64-bit? I've chosen to highlight the physical and logical differences between each version of desktop Windows as shown in Table 5. This table illustrates the progressive improvement of Windows 64-bit and indicates that Windows has a long way to go before it exhausts the capabilities of 64-bit processors. Many of the limits in the 64-bit versions of Windows are design choices rather than limitations of the 64-bit CPUs. The number of physical processors is the most obvious as Windows Server editions support many more.

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Hardware is also limited by design. For example, while 64-bit AMD and Intel CPUs use 64-bit memory pointers, the supporting chipsets only use a 52-bit physical address space (4 Petabytes) and a 48-bit virtual memory space (256 Terabytes). This is presently more than sufficient because Windows 7 64-bit only allows 192 GB of physical memory and 16 Terabytes (44-bits) of virtual memory. Table 5: Physical and Logical limits for Windows Versions Numbers in parentheses indicate extended settings that are not the default and require compatible hardware Version: Version Bits: System: Physical Processors Logical Processors System Cache Physical Memory Virtual Memory Kernel User Process: Physical Memory Virtual Memory 2 (3) GB 2 (3) GB 2 (4) GB 2 (8,192) GB 2 (3) GB 2 (3) GB 8 GB 2 (8,192) GB 2 (4) GB 2 (4) GB 8 GB 2 (8,192) GB 2 32 1 GB 4 GB 4 GB 1 (2) GB 2 64 2 32 2 64 2 32 2 256 32 XP 64 32 Vista 64 32 7 64

1,024 GB 1 (2) GB 1,024 GB 1 (2) GB 1,024 GB 128 GB 16,384 GB 8 GB 4 GB 4 GB 2 GB 128 GB 16,384 GB 8 GB 4 GB 4 GB 2 GB 192 GB 16,384 GB 8 GB

Note 1. I have used Gigabytes (GB) for consistency even though it would be convenient to convert 1,024 GB to 1 TB. Note 2. I've excluded the first 64-bit version of Windows XP (2002) because it has a different architecture. It used Intel Itanium (IA-64) CPUs which had an x86 processor built-in for compatibility. It was replaced by AMD's 64-bit architecture (x86-64) which extended the x86 instruction set and worked so well that it has been licensed by Intel and other chip makers. The name is commonly shortened to x64 as it is the most common 64-bit CPU type today.

Related Links
How Windows 64-bit Supports 32-bit Applications Best Free Windows 64-bit Software for software that runs on Windows 64bit. Best Free Virtualization Solutions provides a good background to virtualization. Help with terminology What is 64-bit? What is 32-bit? What is a byte? What is a bit?

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32-bit and 64-bit explained

COMMENTS
by GrahamB (not verified) on 3. February 2012 - 18:23 (88236) I appreciate the info re drivers. However, I downloaded several programs (exe files) for implementing/use on my 32 bit XP computer. Can those same (32 bit) exe files be copied across to and safely executed/installed on my imminent 64 bit computer & OS? It will save a lot of downloading time! Thanks
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by Remah on 3. February 2012 - 21:28 (88254) Yes, they will almost always be OK. For the rare download that will nor run properly it should be specified in the notes/read me/system reguirement for that download.
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by oh yeah (not verified) on 2. January 2012 - 10:15 (86396) Hi, I am using a 32-bit Windows 7 Ultimate OS. Can I upgrade my 32-bit processor to a 64-bit processor without any problems? Thank you.
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by Remah on 3. January 2012 - 21:17 (86492) No. I've never tried it but, in my opinion, you should reinstall Windows. This is not the right place to answer such a complex question which should be posted in a support forum.
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by srinivasu (not verified) on 27. December 2011 - 4:39 (86034) What is system crash, In system crash what will dammage ... either processor, hardware or all?
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by Remah on 27. December 2011 - 7:08 (86047) A system crash is when the system stops working in an uncontrolled manner. It is mainly caused by a fatal error which means your system doesn't know what to with an error so it stops. Fatal errors on Windows usually cause a blue screen of death (BSOD) or on UNIX a kernel panic. While crashes on older computer systems could damage the hardware, today it is very unusual to have a software crash damage the computer hardware. Software crashes are often fixed by simply restarting your system. Problems with your hardware are another cause of system crashes, for example, when there is an electrical power surge or if your CPU overheats.

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It is called a "crash" because that was what happened when a disk drive has a head crash - the read/write head would physically crash into the disk surface. But most crashes don't involve physical parts colliding.
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by Doc Matrix (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 18:58 (85311) You should update your article to explain that, in order to run a 64-bit version of Windows, you will need *all* 64-bit capable drivers (signed drivers for Vista and Windows 7, for the most part), and the reason that 64-bit versions of Windows will not run 16-bit code is because Microsoft decided to drop support for 16-bit (Windows 3.x) programs with its 64-bit OSes (since they would be supporting 32-bit programs via "Windows-onWindows" (WOW) emulation. So far, I've had little to no problems with Windows 7 64-bit, except for a few pieces of older hardware (a webcam and an old 1998 USB scanner) that aren't supported (no drivers).
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by Remah on 19. December 2011 - 19:52 (85315) I could explain that here but I'll leave it in the related article How Windows 64-bit Supports 32-bit Applications. This article is complicated enough for most people: it is not intended to cover every aspect of the transition to Windows 64-bit, nor is it focused on how to maintain compatibility with older systems.
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by Ralph Larson (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 14:04 (85289) I have a 16 bit program that runs on a 32 bit virtual machine. But the LPT1 output of the program does not print. I'm told that the LPT1 needs to be connected to the USB printer. I have 16 bit program that is supposed to do this but IT will not run. This program is also installed on the virtual PC, but still it will not work. This program, GWBASIC and the LPT1 to USB converter program, called DOS2USB both ran successfully on my previous Windows XP machine. I do not understand why this will not work. Any suggestions?
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by Remah on 19. December 2011 - 20:28 (85319) The article How Windows 64-bit Supports 32-bit Applications discusses 16-bit applications.
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by Doc Matrix (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 19:01 (85314) You didn't explain if the DOS2USB program was running in the 32-bit virtual machine, or on the 64-bit "host" operating system, but I suspect that the DOS2USB program won't work at all with a virtual machine. Try using DOSBOX to run your GWBASIC program, and set up Windows or DOSBOX to "capture" the output of LPT1 to your printer (I don't recall the specifics, but you might be able to tell DOSBOX to send LPT1 to a file or a Windows printer).

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by Remah on 19. December 2011 - 20:14 (85318) Support questions should be posted in our support forum but here's a short answer. Any further questions have to go to the forum. Under DOS, you would have used the MODE command except that it doesn't support USB ports. Up to Windows 98 you could capture the port in printer properties. Now you'll have to use the NET USE command to redirect printer output.
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by e_m_i (not verified) on 8. December 2011 - 0:31 (84614) Hello, thanks for posting this information, very enlightening. I started to know about all this stuff after I bought a laptop with Windows 7 Home 64bit installed, and I havent been able to run my favorite software in it, such as Sketchup and Autocad. They just don't work and I'm suspecting that sometimes 32bit software DOESN'T actually run on 64bit Windows&processor. So I was actually thinking on reinstalling a 32bit Windows 7 to make things run smoothly as in my other computers, but after reading this article I'm afraid of losing the 64bit advantages. I would like to read your point of view. Thanks in advance
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by Remah on 8. December 2011 - 1:32 (84618) The article doesn't make it clear that 32-bit Windows applications are not automatically Windows 64-bit compatible. Some programs require changes to make them compatible. There are several reasons for this: they have 16-bit code, they rely on 32-bit device drivers, they are extensions that use code injection to add features to another program, or they don't follow the 'rules' in some other way. Some vendors prefer to make a native 64-bit version rather than updating the 32-bit application to make it compatible. I have added a note and a Q&A to the article explaining this. Autodesk have chosen to have separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions so you will have to install the 64-bit version of Autocad under Windows 7 64-bit. This makes sense given that Autocad can be a heavy user of memory and can make good use of the 64-bit memory model. This forum thread says that your Autocad installation media could have the 64-bit install as well as the 32-bit: http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/Installation-Licensing/32bit-AutoCADon-64... I don't understand why Sketchup won't run on your system. Google says that 32-bit Sketchup will run under Windows 64-bit (XP, Vista, 7) http://support.google.com/sketchup/bin/answer.py? hl=en&answer=36208
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by Remah on 30. November 2011 - 1:40 (84146) I have added the Q&A "What are the differences between Windows 32-bit and 64-bit?" and included a table for 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista and 7. Remah - Editor
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by Thks (not verified) on 29. November 2011 - 13:56 (84114) I usually do not comment here because I cannot remember my login info but I wanted to take the time to thank Remah for taking the time to write such a great explicit article on such a complicated subject. I particularly liked the part that explains the "three components of your system. In simple terms they are three layers with the processor or CPU as the central or lowest layer and the application as the outermost or highest layer" As for the table/graph, I had no problems with it I could follow it. I have seen worse in textbooks that I have paid good money for. Thank you Remah. Wish I knew how to capture the info for future reference.
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by Remah on 29. November 2011 - 18:47 (84131) Thank you very much for your encouraging words. I liked the simplicity of my original tables but I think that the new ones improve the article.
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by Remah on 28. November 2011 - 21:40 (84072) I have updated the article: 1. Converted the two compatibility tables into four and added an additional column to each. 2. Added a new section on emulation. 3. Added a new question "Is a Windows Vista or Windows 7 license key valid for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions?" Remah - 32-bit and 64-bit explained editor
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by Gwoyeu (not verified) on 28. November 2011 - 10:46 (84044) Oops! "but MAYBE the comparison doesn't work that way"
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by Gwoyeu (not verified) on 28. November 2011 - 10:44 (84043) I don't mean to be rude, but I don't understand what these odd-looking tables mean. I suspect I am not the only one who feels confused. Since you are comparing 32- and 64-bit APs, OSes and CPUs, couldn't you just use rows for 32-bit details and columns for 64-bit details? ..........64-AP...64-OS....64-CPU -----------------------------------32-AP..|........|............|............ -----------------------------------32-OS..|........|............|............ -----------------------------------32-CPU..|........|...........|............ -----------------------------------I have filled in possible column and row headers (but many the comparison doesn't work that way). We really do want to understand. Please enlighten the rest of us by reworking your tables. Thank you!
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by Remah on 28. November 2011 - 11:21 (84045) You're not being rude and I'm not offended anyway. We're here to help so I hope this explanation helps you to understand Tables 1 and 2: I've discussed three layers in a system and they appear in the leftmost column of Table 1: Application Program at the top because it is the highest level Operating System (OS) in the middle level Processor (CPU) at the bottom because it is the lowest level The remaining columns in the table each contain a combination of 32and/or 64-bit components for the three levels of your system. The top row has either a coloured 'Yes' and 'No' above each combination. It says whether the combination in that column will work. The first combination is a 32-bit CPU, a 32-bit OS and a 32-bit application. It will work so it has a green 'Yes' above it. The second combination is a 32-bit CPU, a 32-bit OS and a 64-bit application. This combination will not run so it has a red 'No' above it. It won't run because "64-bit does not run on a lower level 32-bit component". Table 2 is very similar to Table 1 apart from the middle row now being the Guest operating system. With a virtual machine the Host operating system can usually be ignored - so I've grayed it out to make that clearer. There are two changes which might make it easier to understand: I could put the row with 'Yes' and 'No' at the bottom - would that help? I could then put two heading rows across the top to indicate that there are 6 combinations which I could label A to F (or 1 to 6 or I to VI): ------------------------ Combinations --------------|-- A --|-- B ---|-- C --|-- D --| Regarding your suggestion, I could make it work for Table 1 because I only have three levels but it would not work for Table 2 where I have 4 levels. I also think that Table 1 would be harder to understand if I did change it. I could put 'CPU' in the column headings and 'OS' in row headings. Then I could put what type of application would work in the cells and use a red 'No' if nothing will work.
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by Jojoyee on 28. November 2011 - 11:51 (84046) Good discussion here Remah. Personally I find that splitting Table 1 into two tables might be easier to understand, something like this: If I have a 64-bit CPU: CPU OS Apps Compatible? 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit Yes 64-bit 64-bit 32-bit Yes 64-bit 32-bit 32-bit Yes

If I have a 32-bit CPU: CPU OS 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit

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Apps Compatible? 32-bit Yes

32-bit and 64-bit explained


64-bit No 32/64-bit No

Just my thoughts.
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by Remah on 28. November 2011 - 21:40 (84073) Good thoughts, thanks. I've made the change.
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by Anon123 (not verified) on 27. November 2011 - 18:16 (84002) thank you but i couldn't understand the tables.
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by Remah on 27. November 2011 - 21:15 (84018) Your comment doesn't help me because it doesn't tell me anything about how to improve this article. Could you understand the text even if you couldn't understand the table? If you could understand the text then what do you think made it hard to understand the table? Did you have a specific question you couldn't answer?
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by jjstevj (not verified) on 26. November 2011 - 23:08 (83950) I always have gone with 64 bit. Ever since windows 7 came out !
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by Anonymous P Brain (not verified) on 26. November 2011 22:24 (83948) Brilliant, This is just like politics, the more garbage politicians blurp out, the more people are confused, which of course is what the politicians really want. Someday someone may have enough brains to sort out this 16bit, 32bit, 64 bit, and I suppose next generation 132 bit software, and then we may have compatible computers, like asking for perfect politicians I suppose, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
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by Remah on 27. November 2011 - 0:29 (83958) I agree. Like politics we can't avoid it. Yes, 128-bits will be coming although at present there is no 128-bit system for the people. There are, for example, 96-bit image scanners and 128-bit encryption systems so it will make sense to move at some point. Here's some more thoughts why it takes so long. The majority of a modern operating system is device drivers. On the leading edge of the current transition and the trailing edges of

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32-bit and 64-bit explained


previous transitions, it is hard to get compatible drivers for the hardware that you've already bought. Generally vendors want an assured market before they develop and users want a working product before they spend. Vendors don't earn enough from support and users expect to pay as little as possible. The two groups hardly ever produce a conjunction - the odds against it are astronomical. So it is also the reason why so many people are stuck with using 16-bit drivers for their once expensive and often irreplaceable hardware. Microsoft, AMD and Intel have all chosen backward-compatibility over an enforced leap to pure 64-bit computing. So the changeover is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the landing soft rather than hard, and the time-frame long rather than medium. A short-term transition isn't possible because it is hard to mobilise all the resources to train everyone, to implement the changes, and then expect users to pay for the privilege. People simply wouldn't move.
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by Jojoyee on 27. November 2011 - 1:27 (83963) Nice thoughts and well written, Remah.
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by Remah on 27. November 2011 - 2:21 (83970) Thanks. I see you've been at work. I'll be adding another section on emulation later today.
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