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x86 vs. x64 vs.

    Question

  • All,

    I'm a little confused with the terminology here.  Can someone offer me a little bit more insight into the primary differences between these two terms?  Here is the wiki, which to me explains perfectly well the difference between the 2 notations of the architecture types in the first portion of the article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86

    Where I get fuzzy is when downloading software or even talking to others.  Are there any standards that we can consider "absolute" in today's world?  For instance, if I download software and I see a version without an "x-##" notation next to it can I consider it to be appropriate for 32-bit architectures?  and if there is x-64 next to an installer version, can I consider that to be appropriate for 64-bit architectures??  I've run into this quite a bit where terms are thrown around so much that people start getting confused as to what is what.  I'm not really a fan of that.  Can anyone offer any insight into this??  thanks much.

    Sunday, February 03, 2013 10:57 PM

Answers

  • While an x86 application can be used on either system, there are advantages such as larger memory that make it desirable to use two versions.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Monday, February 04, 2013 11:47 AM

All replies

  • At least for drivers which is what this forum is about testing, x86 is the traditional 32-bit Intel architecture from Pentium onwards.  These drivers are built to run on a 32-bit version of Windows that does not use any of the 64-bit extensions to the architecture.  x64 is for drivers and systems that us the 64-bit extensions to the traditional Intel architecture.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Sunday, February 03, 2013 11:08 PM
  • x64 is for drivers and systems that us the 64-bit extensions to the traditional Intel architecture.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Don,

    thank you for the reply.  It sounds as though to me that it's pretty safe (but still not 100% certain) that whenever I see "x86" I can be pretty sure that the installation will be compatible with a 32-bit windows OS if it has an Intel processor at least as new as the Pentium?  That's virtually what you said, correct??

    Likewise with the x64 label for 64-bit windows OS's running on Intel chips??

    thanks!  that was extremely helpful.  Also too, I assume when you say "64-bit extensions" you simply are referring to 64-bit operating systems rather 32-bit ones?

    again, thanks.

    Sunday, February 03, 2013 11:29 PM
  • No I am using the 64-bit extensions to mean the extended instruction set that added 64-bit addressing and data to the Pentium style architecture.  I say that because until recently in Windows you would also see the IA-64 which was the Itanium architecture from Windows. 

    As far as OS, there is a x64 version of Windows that requires drivers compiled for x64, and an x86 version of Windows that requires the drivers compiled for 32-bit.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Sunday, February 03, 2013 11:51 PM
  • No I am using the 64-bit extensions to mean the extended instruction set that added 64-bit addressing and data to the Pentium style architecture.  I say that because until recently in Windows you would also see the IA-64 which was the Itanium architecture from Windows. 

    As far as OS, there is a x64 version of Windows that requires drivers compiled for x64, and an x86 version of Windows that requires the drivers compiled for 32-bit.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr


    what I'm trying to get at here Don, is whether or not I can *always* associate the term "x64" to mean a download that is meant to be installed on a 64-bit windows OS, and likewise for the term "x86" for 64-bit windows OS.  Can I do that?  Is that safe?  I realize that there are other relevant details like drivers, etc...   but I'm looking for the silver lining here.  Is there anything "static" to be found in this little endeavor??  Where's the magic at Don??   thanks.

    • Edited by ajetrumpet Monday, February 04, 2013 1:30 AM
    Monday, February 04, 2013 1:29 AM
  • An x64 driver or executable can only work on a x64 version of the OS.  An x86 driver can only be used on the x86 version of the OS.  An x86 application can be used on either version of the OS.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Monday, February 04, 2013 2:11 AM
  • An x86 application can be used on either version of the OS.

    OK Don, so if that is the case why do most software download sites have x86 and x64 versions of the installer?  If what you say is true, having two versions of an installer to download would be pointless.  Is it just for efficiency or congruency's sake then? 
    Monday, February 04, 2013 4:57 AM
  • While an x86 application can be used on either system, there are advantages such as larger memory that make it desirable to use two versions.


    Don Burn Windows Filesystem and Driver Consulting Website: http://www.windrvr.com Blog: http://msmvps.com/blogs/WinDrvr

    Monday, February 04, 2013 11:47 AM
  • While an x86 application can be used on either system, there are advantages such as larger memory that make it desirable to use two versions.



    Yes I understand Don.  That's a given.  I didn't know if there was some secret hidden reason I didn't know about.  But I guess there's not.  Thanks for all of your help.  5 stars. 
    Monday, February 04, 2013 11:52 AM