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I'm a bit confused about this. I always thought you'd have to have at least a CPU that was a "64 bit" cpu, and probably a motherboard that could handle 64 bit memory addressing.

But recently I was checking out some info about my home PC processor (Q6600) and was surprised to find out that it can handle 64bit operating systems, even though it wasn't advertised as such. I've also seen sites claiming that any core 2 CPU from intel can do 64bit, which I find it hard to believe.

So, can I slap a 64bit OS on any Core 2 machine? Does the motherboard also come into play?

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The main thing about the Core 2 was that it was 64bit, rather than the Core which wasn't. – Rich Bradshaw Sep 11 '09 at 15:58
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The only technical requirement to be able to install a 64bit version of an OS is that the CPU supports 64bit extentions. Most CPU's by AMD and Intel in the last couple years have included the 64bit extentions (AMD64/EM64T)

Your motherboard would most likely not prevent you from installing a 64bit OS, but you may not be able to go beyond 4gb of RAM depending on what the motherboard supports.

Some helpful questions:

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Removed my previous answer because it is just the same as other answers. Added another requirement.

One of the most critical requirement for running a 64-bit OS is not just hardware, but the user too :

  1. User swears never to install anyhow drivers which might be 32-bit on a 64-bit OS.
  2. User must understand that just because 64-bit is two times of 32-bit, doesn't mean the system will go twice as fast.
  3. User must not use the "I run a 64-bit OS" as a bragging right to others so the Net will be spared the nightmare of answering "Why is my 64-bit OS crashing/slower/not-twice-as-fast/".
  4. User must not be confused as to whether he can run 64-bit or not. If he's confused, then he's not ready for 64-bit.

Cheers. Stay on the x32 bandwagon - it still performs very well, and there are only marginal benefits to move on to x64 - the chief benefit being you can run more than 4GB (or 3.2, or 3, or whatever) of RAM.

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"I must have seen a question like this at least 5 times on SuperUser already, someone please make the search bar bigger!"see that tiny link that reads 'CLOSE'? :) – Molly7244 Sep 11 '09 at 15:20
I leave it to the bigwigs to close a question. Besides, it's fun trying to answer a question in a different way. – caliban Sep 11 '09 at 15:31

Most, if not all, new Intel CPUs (I don't know about AMD) will run 64-bit. The motherboard is unlikely to be an issue, if you're running a Q6600.

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Of course the easiest way to check, is to boot up off a Windows 7 or Vista x64 disc and see what happens. – user3463 Sep 11 '09 at 14:54
And I apologise for presuming you're looking at Windows. You can also pop in a x64 disc from any other OS vendor to see what happens. – user3463 Sep 11 '09 at 14:55
all new AMD's are 64-bit,they invented x86_64,right? – Mahmoud Hossam Sep 11 '09 at 15:15
@Phobia Yes, – Troggy Sep 11 '09 at 15:19
AMD has been 64bit longer than Intel. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 11 '09 at 16:10

I think the difference between Core and Core 2 CPUs was the latter's ability to run 64 bit code.

To run a 64 bit OS you need a 64 bit CPU and, if you are running a Mac, 64 bit-compatible firmware. (You also need enough RAM, obviously.)

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