What’s The Big Deal About 64 Bits?

You may have heard about the shift from 32 to 64 bit processors and software being ’64 bit’ compatible, but what does this mean?

In computing, bits, short for binary digit, are used to measure many things. In the case of the current new technology however, it is used to refer to the size of the address bus of the processor. The address bus is what a computer processor uses to request information from it’s RAM. The larger the address bus, the more memory the computer can access at any one time. With an older 32 bit address bus processor the computer can ‘see’ around 4 Gigabytes of RAM, with a 64 bit bus however, this number goes up to a potential 16 exabytes! These days, 4 gigabytes is starting to seem like too little for many applications, so 64 bit processors are becoming more and more attractive. This comes at a price however, as although it may seem like quite a minor tweak to the way a processor works, it in many cases requires software to be extensively rewritten and can break compatibility with older programs.