SOLVED Stick with 32-bit if the computer came with 32-bit


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TrainableMan

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Fixer, could you state a source that would support your statement about RAM modules that can only handle a 32-bit OS even if the processor supports 64? I have never heard of this limitation of RAM before; I would like to read more about it. To RAM and hard drives it should merely be a matter of reading and writing bytes of information and I cannot understand how either could be dependent on the OS bit-size.

Also, I know for certain that there is no difference between a 32 and 64 bit product key. And if you are referring to a W7 upgrade license then yes, a 32-bit XP or Vista license does qualify you to legally upgrade to a 64-bit W7, but it requires a custom install. As for changing from W7 32-bit to 64-bit on a machine that shipped with a W7 OEM license, there may be some question as to the legality of it, but reinstalling the 64-bit OS will definitely work, if the hardware supports 64-bit, with the same OEM product key ... but you are correct it would require 64-bit drivers which may or may not be available..

A 32-bit system can only address about 3.3GB, not the entire 4GB. There have been some tests tweaking the system to allow full addressing but it is not functional with all software and, though it may be fun to play with on a spare test machine, I would not recommend it for standard use.

Almost all machines that shipped with windows XP were 32-bit, only a very few ran XP Pro 64, and a good percentage of Vista machines shipped with 32-bit. Even W7 shipped as 32-bit on many machines. With the exception of netbooks and computers with under 2GB of RAM, most of the XP and nearly all of the Vista & W7 computers can easily run 64-bit. I would have to strongly disagree with your statement and think it would be a huge disadvantage to limit your upgrade to 32-bit simply based on what bit-size was originally installed.
 

clifford_cooley

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Fixer, could you state a source that would support your statement about RAM modules that can only handle a 32-bit OS even if the processor supports 64?
No, s/he can't! If a motherboard supports a 64 bit CPU, there is no choice but to have a memory architect that also supports 64bit.
 
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Now that you guys mention it, the situation on which I based my post doesn't completely add up and may have involved some bad assumptions on my part or by the person who described it to me.

The laptop in question had 32 bit RAM modules on a daughterboard. My understanding is that a 64 bit OS isn't compatible with a 32 bit data path. It hadn't occurred to me that you shouldn't find such RAM modules associated with a 64 bit capable motherboard. So, my post was based either on a unique kluge and irrelevant to anyone else, or (more likely), some misunderstandings about what was actually in the laptop. The rest of my post was extrapolated from a bad starting point.

Thanks for being vigilant and sorry to have created unnecessary confusion.

edit: I deleted the previous post to avoid confusing later readers.
 
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TrainableMan

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When RAM was significantly more expensive there was a board that you could plug like 4 x 256MB chips into and then plug that board into the MOBO to act as a 1GB chip. Perhaps this is the daughterboard you refer to and I could see the possibility of problems with that special hardware handling 64-bit, but such hardware is so old it shouldn't be running, let a known running 64-bit.

BTW: to do a strike-through add [S] before the text and then add [/S] after.
 

TrainableMan

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I went ahead and moved these posts to their own thread and marked it solved.
 
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When RAM was significantly more expensive there was a board that you could plug like 4 x 256MB chips into and then plug that board into the MOBO to act as a 1GB chip. Perhaps this is the daughterboard you refer to
Most laptops aren't thick enough to use standard RAM sockets that hold the modules perpendicular to the motherboard. The modules need to lie flat or almost flat in order to fit. Most of the laptop motherboards I've seen don't have the RAM directly on the motherboard. They use a daughterboard with a different type of socket to deal with the space constraints. They also use RAM modules that are a smaller form factor. Those kluge boards you referred to were too big for laptops. Manufacturers were using 32 bit RAM in 32 bit laptops until "relatively" recently because the modules are smaller.

Based on what I thought I knew about the laptop I mentioned in the earlier thread, and without giving it adequate thought, I jumped to a conclusion about that manufacturer: for units they were shipping with a 32 bit OS, they had married a 32 bit RAM daughterboard to a 64 bit capable motherboard. Wouldn't you do the same if you had a warehouse full of 32 bit RAM that you stockpiled when it was cheap and the world was moving to 64 bit and you needed a way to use it up? It seemed feasible at the time, and "logically", if that was what they were doing, I expected that there would be problems trying to run a 64 bit OS on such a machine, even though the processor/mobo were 64 bit capable. Well, it all sort of made sense at the time.

Also, it looks like I was misinformed about Microsoft licensing practices. While they are a major pain in the butt regarding their Windows licenses, apparently, they are not quite as big a pain in the butt. We can all be thankful for the little things.
 
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TrainableMan

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There is a W7 upgrade advisor and I would love to know if it would flag that RAM daughterboard or not.
 

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