Should we make a complete move to 64-bit computing?

The digital era has truly affected mankind in a number of ways unimaginable. The 1’s and 0’s forming the backbone of our digital world unleash the boundaries of everyday computing. For long the x86 i.e. 32-bit computing has served us well and still is, but recent developments in computing are making the transition towards 64-bit computing.

What is 32-bit / 64-bit computing?

The term ” 32-bit / 64-bit ” computing refers to a number of bits that can be processed by a CPU at any given time. Hence the term of running 32 / 64-bit computer programs has become synonymous with 32-bit / 64-bit computing.

How is the 32-bit computing ecosystem?

The 32-bit computing ecosystem has withstood the test of time back from the days when 4MB of memory was the limit. With 32 bits, the total addressable memory limit was around 4GB, once considered a formidable limit for computing. Various software vendors have created software with this in mind for decades since 32-bit computing systems were readily available for the masses.

What is wrong with the 32-bit computing ecosystem?

There is nothing wrong fundamentally as such with 32-bit computing. It has served its purpose very well indeed.

But with the computing ecosystem moving towards much more demanding tasks such as AI, VR, Machine Learning, the minimum resource requirement is growing at much rapid pace than the 32-bit computing ecosystem can provide for.

Also, the 32-bit computing has its technical limitations such as:

  • Not able to process more than 32-bits of data.
  • Addressable Memory Limit of up to 4GB only.
  • Compatibility for running 32-bit / less than 32-bit programs.
  • The 16-bit programs are run via emulation as such they behave like 32-bit programs.
  • Here the CPU is severely constrained by the fact that additional resources cannot be added than the fundamental limit super-imposed on it due to its architectural constraints.

Advantages of using a 64-bit computing ecosystem:

The 64-bit computing is the next transformative era in modern day computer systems, having several advantages as,

  • Double the data processing capacity of the current 32-bit computing system.
  • Complete compatibility with the current 32-bit computing programs.
  • It can address the memory space of up to 16 Exabytes ( 1 Exabyte = 1 Million Terabyte ).
  • Additional system resources such more RAM ( >4 GB ), more storage space, etc. can be added because the architecture provides the freedom to do so.
  • Extensive processing power due to additional raw power provided by the extended architecture and instruction set both.

What has caused this transition to 64-bit computing?

Enterprises have long transitioned to 64-bit computing to reap the additional benefits that it provides.

  • Apple has led the charge in the consumer space with it Macs and iPhone also moving to a 64-bit architecture since the past couple of years.
  • The same transition has also been made by Apple in the software realm as well.
  • Google too had made a similar transition with its Android OS and related hardware.
  • 64-bit hardware has also been available to the masses at an affordable price.
  • Also, many Linux distros have recently been preparing for this transition by not releasing 32-bit ISOs at all.
  • The latest in this trend would be Fedora, a heavy weight community focused Linux distro from Redhat.
  • They are in consideration for relesaing only 64-bit ISO images starting from version 27 of their popular linux distro.

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