@Tido that is a common misconceptionHere is a quote from wikipedia:
Pros and cons
- A 64-bit processor performs best with 64-bit software.
- A 64-bit processor has backward compatibility and will handle most 32-bit software.
- A 32-bit processor is not compatible with 64-bit software.
A common misconception is that 64-bit architectures are no better than 32-bit architectures unless the computer has more than 4 GB of random access memory. This is not entirely true:
- Some operating systems and certain hardware configurations limit the physical memory space to 3 GB on IA-32 systems, due to much of the 3–4 GB region being reserved for hardware addressing; see 3 GB barrier; 64-bit architectures can address far more than 4 GB. However, IA-32 processors from the Pentium II onward allow for a 36-bit physical memory address space, using Physical Address Extension (PAE), which gives a 64 GB physical address range, of which up to 62 GB may be used by main memory; operating systems that support PAE may not be limited to 4 GB of physical memory, even on IA-32 processors. However, drivers and other kernel mode software, particularly older versions, may not be compatible with PAE.
- Some operating systems reserve portions of process address space for OS use, effectively reducing the total address space available for mapping memory for user programs. For instance, 32-bit Windows reserves 1 or 2 GB (depending on the settings) of the total address space for the kernel, which leaves only 3 or 2 GB (respectively) of the address space available for user mode. This limit is much higher on 64-bit operating systems.
- Memory-mapped files are becoming more difficult to implement in 32-bit architectures as files of over 4 GB become more common; such large files cannot be memory-mapped easily to 32-bit architectures—only part of the file can be mapped into the address space at a time, and to access such a file by memory mapping, the parts mapped must be swapped into and out of the address space as needed. This is a problem, as memory mapping, if properly implemented by the OS, is one of the most efficient disk-to-memory methods.
- Some 64-bit programs, such as encoders, decoders and encryption software, can benefit greatly from 64-bit registers, while the performance of other programs, such as 3D graphics-oriented ones, remains unaffected when switching from a 32-bit to a 64-bit environment.
- Some 64-bit architectures, such as x86-64, support more general-purpose registers than their 32-bit counterparts (although this is not due specifically to the word length). This leads to a significant speed increase for tight loops since the processor does not have to fetch data from the cache or main memory if the data can fit in the available registers.
More can be found here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit_computing#32-bit_vs_64-bit