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x86 vs x64 : What is the difference between x86 and x64 Architecture

Technology #architecture

    When it comes to computer architecture, two terms that often come up are x86 and x64. But what exactly do these terms mean, and what is the difference between them?

    In this article, we are going to going to know the difference between x86 and x64 instruction set architectures. Whether you're a developer, a gamer, or a casual computer user, understanding the differences between x86 and x64 can help you make informed decisions when it comes to hardware and software compatibility.

    So let's start!!

    x86 vs x64 : What is the difference between x86 and x64 Architecture

    What is x86 Architecture?

    The x86 is an instruction set architecture (ISA) family for computer processors, developed by the Intel Corporation. They define the way how a processor manages and executes various instructions from the operating system and application programs. The "x" in x86 denotes the version of ISA.

    The x86 architecture was designed in 1978. It is based on Intel's 8086 and 8088 microprocessors. Gradually it grew from 16-bit instructions set for 16-bit processors to 32-bit instruction sets. Owing to its capability of running almost any type of computer from PCs to Supercomputers, various other microprocessor manufacturers have adopted it.

    Today, the term "x86" refers to any 32-bit processor that can run the x86 instruction set. The x86 microprocessor can run almost any kind of computer, from laptops and notebooks to supercomputers and servers.

    Features of x86

    • It uses Complex Instruction set computing Architecture (CISC).
    • It executes complex instructions at a time and takes more than a cycle.
    • It uses the Hardware approach to optimize systems performance.
    • It uses more registers and less memory.
    • It is less pipelined.
    • It is designed to handle complex addresses.

    Applications of x86

    • Most of the world's Personal Computers.
    • Laptops
    • Gaming consoles
    • Intensive Workstations
    • Cloud Computing segments

    What is x64 architecture?

    Similar to the x86, the x64, which is also called "x86-64" ( meaning x86-based 64-bit) is also a family of instruction set architecture for computer processors. But, x64 has 64-bit CPUs and an operating system rather than the 32-bit system which belongs to x86. It is officially known as Intel 64 and AMD 64 respectively from its manufacturers.

    When first designed, it was called x86-64. More precisely x64 is the architecture name for the extension to the x86 instruction set that enables 64-bit code.

    Features of x64

    • It has 64-bit integer capability.
    • It has a larger virtual address space, app. 256 TiB of it. which can be raised to 16 EiB in the future.
    • Very large files can be operated on by mapping the entire file into the process's address space.
    • It also has a larger physical address space, which can address up to 256 TiB of RAM, which could be extended to 4 PiB in the future.
    • Instructions can reference data relative to the instruction pointer, making the code position-independent, which when used in shared libraries, load more efficiently in the runtime.

    Applications of x64

    • Mobile Processors
    • Supercomputers
    • Many popular operating systems
    • Video games consoles
    • Virtualization technologies

    Also Read: Memory Organization in Computer Architecture

    Comparison of x86 and x64 in Table:



    1. Introduced in the year 1978. 1. Came up more recently in 2000.
    2. It emerged from Intel 8086 processor. 2. It came as an extension to x86, by AMD.
    3. It is a 32-bit architecture. 3. It is a 64-bit architecture.
    4. Processors have 32-bit registers, a memory bus, and data bus. 4. Processors have 64-bit registers, a memory bus, data bus.
    5. It has a limitation on maximum addressable memory, 4 GB. 5. The limit is huge, 2 raised to 64 bytes.
    6. Less powerful than x64 6. Much improved and powerful than x86
    7. Need to use more registers to split values and store them. 7. Values that can be stored are larger.
    8. Slower than x64 8. Can handle the computation of larger integers much faster.
    9. Can only parallel transmit 32 bits, as it has a 32-bit bus. 9. It can parallel transmit larger-size data along the 64-bit data bus, i.e. 64-bit.

    How to tell if your Windows OS is 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64)?

    Now that you know what the difference is between x86 architecture and x64 bit architecture, how can you tell if your computer is an x86 system or an x64 system?

    Well, here's how to tell if your Windows OS computer is a 32-bit or 64-bit system in just one step.

    Just do the following:

    • Press the Windows Key + X to open the power user menu, then click on the system.
    • Under device specifications, scroll down, and you should be able to see your system type.


    The biggest difference between x86 and x64 is that they can access different amounts of RAM. The x86 (32-bit processors) has a limited amount of maximum physical memory at 4 GB, while x64 (64-bit processors) can handle 8, 16, and some even 32GB physical memory.

    A computer with x64 can work with both 32-bit programs and 64-bit programs. However, a computer with x86 can only run 32-bit programs. This is because their bit sizes are different from the basic level. Older computers run on mostly x86. Today's laptops with pre-installed Windows run mostly on x64.

    x64 processors work more efficiently than an x86 processor when dealing with a large amount of data. If you are using a 64-bit Windows PC, you can find a folder named Program Files (x86) on the C drive. The folder stores 32-bit applications, while all the 64-bit apps that you have installed are stored in the Program Files folder.

    Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

    1. Which processors support x86 and x64 architectures?

    \Most Intel and AMD processors support both x86 and x64 architectures. However, some older processors may only support x86 architecture.

    2. How can I upgrade from an x86 system to an x64 system?

    To upgrade from an x86 system to an x64 system, you will need to back up all your important data, format your hard drive, and install the x64 version of the operating system. This will require a compatible x64 processor, x64 operating system installation media, and any necessary x64 drivers for your hardware.

    3. Are there any disadvantages to using x64 architecture?

    One potential disadvantage of using x64 architecture is that it may require more memory than x86 architecture to run the same software. Additionally, some older software may not be compatible with x64 architecture.

    4. Can I run an x86 operating system on an x64 system?

    Yes, most x64 systems support running x86 operating systems through a process called virtualization. However, running an x86 operating system on an x64 system may result in slower performance compared to running an x64 operating system.

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