Computer processors are the backbone of all devices we see today. Over the years, these processors have increased in capabilities exponentially to become the extreme performance machines they are today.
However, processer architecture is still something that remains misunderstood by many today. In this article, we’re putting x86 processors against their x64 counterparts to find out what’s the difference.
Pretty much the only difference between the two is their architecture itself. x86 refers to a 32-bit system, while x64 refers to a 64-bit system. The x86 architecture was introduced in 1978, while the x64 came up more recently in 2000.
What this means is x64 processors have a lot more bits than an x86 one. The relationship lies in the Instruction Set Architecture or ISA initially developed by Intel. The x86 is based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor and its 8088 variant, which eventually started as 16-bit processors, eventually becoming 32 and now 64-bit as consumer needs increase and computers become more powerful.
RAM usage and efficiency
A 32-bit processor can only take advantage of about 4GB of RAM. Any more than that, and you’re practically wasting space. While 4GB RAM is still enough for basic tasks, most PCs these days come with 8GB RAM, meaning they’re equipped with 64-bit processors, which can take advantage of RAM up to 64 bits raised to the power of two.
This also means that x64 processors work a lot more efficiently as compared to their x86 counterparts owing to their ability to deal with larger virtual address spaces — over 256TiB, which can be raised to 16EiB in the future.
x86 vs x64
Here’s a head to head comparison between the two.
|x86 Architecture||x64 Architecture|
|Originated from Intel’s 8086 processor||An extension to the x86 architecture, developed by AMD|
|32-bit architecture||64-bit architecture|
|RAM usage limited to up to 4GB||Massive RAM usage limit|
|Requires more registers to split values and store them||Can store much larger values in the same number of registers|
|Less powerful||Much more powerful and efficient as compared to x86|
While older PCs mostly worked on x86 based processors, most modern machines function on the x64 platform, and that’s because the latter is better, faster and more capable than the former. So if you’re in the market for a processor, we definitely recommend getting an x64.
Also read: Is 64GB RAM overkill? Do I need it?
Someone who writes/edits/shoots/hosts all things tech and when he’s not, streams himself racing virtual cars. You can reach out to Yadullah at [email protected], or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.