The way that a CPU handles information can affect the performance of the OS. Two common architectures used to process data are:
- x86 - A 32-bit architecture that processes multiple instructions with a single request. An x86 processor uses fewer registers than an x64 processor. Registers are storage areas used by the CPU when performing calculations. An x86 processor can support a 32-bit operating system.
- x64 - This 64-bit architecture adds additional registers specifically for instructions that use a 64-bit address space. The additional registers allow the CPU to process instructions much faster than x86. The x64 processer is backward compatible with the x86 processor. An x64 processor can support 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
A 32-bit OS is capable of addressing only 4 GB of system memory, while a 64-bit OS can address more than 128 GB. Memory management differs between the two systems. A 64-bit system has better performance. A 64-bit OS also includes features that provide additional security.