32-bit computing


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32-bit computing

CPUs that process 32 bits as a single unit, compared to 8, 16 or 64. Although 32-bit CPUs were used in mainframes as early as the 1960s, personal computers began to migrate from 16 to 32 bits in the 1980s. Starting with the first 32-bit 386 chips in 1985, Intel x86 CPUs were built with a 16-bit mode for compatibility with 16-bit applications (see 386).

The 32-bit mode does not result in two times as much real work getting done as in 16-bit mode, because it relates to only one aspect of internal processing. The CPU's clock speed, along with the speed, size and architecture of the disks, memory and peripheral bus all play important roles in a computer's performance (see throughput). See 64-bit computing and bit specifications.


References in periodicals archive ?
Just like the move from 16-bit to 32-bit computing required reworking the hardware and software, it also required a general understanding of the underpinnings to answer simple questions around why a consumer's device would no longer function with a new version of a popular program.
The new Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+ for thin and light notebooks enables a powerful 32-bit computing experience today with a seamless transition to 64-bit computing.
Cluster computing users in particular will appreciate the availability of Wolfram Research's gridMathematica for AMD64 that provides a smooth migration path from scalar 32-bit computing to parallel 64-bit computing.
Designed to leverage the power of the AMD Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 processors, NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs provides PC enthusiasts, workstation professionals, and mobile users with core system technology that delivers maximum performance, reliability, and compatibility for 64-bit and 32-bit computing environments enabled by the AMD64 platform.
Although Intel has been pushing 64 bit computing in the enterprise with its 64-bit Itanium line for a couple of years, the vendor has rarely publicly discussed the prospects for a wholesale market shift away from 32-bit computing. If anything, Intel has played down the need for mass market 64 bit, if only to blunt rival AMD's marketing push for its Opteron line.