Is my processor x64 Capable?

2006-Feb-18 | Tags: 32or64bios

Start64!An article with the above title has been published, which, for the first sight, seemed pretty trivial to me. Everybody knows exactly if he/she has a 64-bit CPU, so there’s no point in wasting time on it, this must be another needless article – I thought. Yet, I could not get it out of my head and started to study the problem from several aspects. This issue may be very important since when you buy or build a new computer nowadays, you pay virtually the same amount for both a 32-bit and a 64-bit rig.

Therefore, it is now only a matter of care to get a system with 64-bit capabilities. It is not sure that everybody knows what his/her processor can do. In my IT business, I regularly have clients who do not know the answers to even much simpler questions. 

The following apply to desktop (not mobile) parts nowadays available from wholesalers:

  1. Intel
    Offers both 32- and 64-bit processors in both the entry and the upper class. When purchasing the CPU and motherboard, the CPU compatibility list of the given motherboard and the BIOS versions available for the individual types must strictly be taken into account. Many issues may arise. Some processors may require a BIOS update. It must not be forgotten that, in a home or office environment, BIOS update requires a working computer. Thus, if the computer will not boot up due to the BIOS version, a compatible processor must temporarily be installed for the time of updating.

  2. AMD
    Upper-class CPU’s are all 64-bit. In the entry class, both 32- and 64-bit Sempron CPU’s exist. The situation is a bit simpler, as on Socket 754 platform, fewer variations exist than in the case of Intel. Yet, it must be strictly taken into account that 64-bit Sempron CPU’s may require a BIOS update. Here, the above-mentioned also apply.
Is my processor x64 Capable?

When purchasing or building a completely new rig, it is advisable to get 64-bit capabilities – when there are no other criteria of course.

In case of older (but not very old, of course) computers, replacing CPU and updating BIOS may be enough to go 64-bit. However, in general, the motherboard must also be replaced together with the processor and this is almost equivalent to getting a new PC. This can be prevented with a little caution.