64 bit Windows 7 computing explained

As my clients upgrade their computers to the latest Windows 7 operating system they are seeing the term “64 bit”.  What does this mean?

Before windows 7 most computers were “32 bit” which means that the maximum amount of space in the memory was a number which was 32 digits long. With the correct computer hardware components and a 64 bit version of windows 7 the amount of data that can now be handled by window memory is a number which is 64 digits long.

For example say you have a phone book, we’ll call it a the 32-bit phone book, and the integers are the contact information for people. The 32-bit phone book can list a total of 4 gigabytes (GB) of memory, or over 4 billion integers. So this “32-bit phone book” can hold the names and contact information of all the people on the planet living today.

Contrast that with the range of 64-bit addressing, which is over 18 quintillion integers and more memory that you get get right now, and you can say that the “64-bit phone book” would be able to store the names and contact information for all the people that ever were or will be on the planet.

For your computer, this gives you support for more system memory, and that means better multitasking and generally improved performance across the board. Prior to windows 7 the maximum amount of usefull memory you could install in your computer was 4 GB. With current 64 bit computers this can be as high as 16 GB.

All this extra memory means the the CPU can store more data in the computers fast memory and less on the slow hard disk. This leads to a faster computer and none of the slow down and hard disk thrashing which you hear with old 32 bit computers.

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