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32-bit vs. 64-bit systems

Suppose a processor supports up to a maximum of only 2 GB RAM (eg: Intel Atom N2600), what are the advantages of installing a 64 bit operating system on it? Clearly, the support for more than 4 GB RAM is not relevant in this case. Also, is it possible to use/exploit additional RAM (beyond 4 GB) from USB drives using Windows ReadyBoost on such as system, and does the use of 64 bit operating system, then become relevant?

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marked as duplicate by Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams, Sirex, Xavierjazz, soandos, Synetech Aug 20 '12 at 0:22

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3 Answers 3

For one thing, physically addressable RAM and ReadyBoost are very different things. ReadyBoost is an abstraction of the Windows virtual memory model, and doesn't mean that you're actually extending RAM. Also, x86-64 has more general registers than x86, which means that programs can theoretically gain performance by not having to fetch from memory.

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64 bit processors are newer and have more advanced functionality in their architecture. Therefore software compiled for 64 bit processors can take advantage of this functionality. But bit-ness isnt everything. Clock speed, cache, age of the proc, bus speeds, all play a role in the speed of a computer.

As for RAM, ReadyBoost doesnt give you more RAM, it just caches what it thinks your disk might read next. This allows the computer to read data from a faster source then the HDD. On low memory systems, it can boost performance.

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Certain programs can benefit from the use of 64-bit registers for calculations, typically the software would state this and would even be designed with 64-bit in mind.

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