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Understanding the 64-bit environment - Vista Ultimate

Can someone please hash out for me what the differences are between a 32-bit and 64-bit system?  I am going to use the Vista 64-bit and I want to have a clear understanding of it.  For example, when I go to download SQL Server Express (just as an example) there are 3 different downloads available:

SQLEXPR_x64_ENU
SQLEXPR_x86_ENU
SQLEXPR32_x86_ENU

I would assume the x64 is for the 64-bit system.  the SQLEXPR32_x86 is for a 32-bit system, but what is the SQLEXPR_x86 for?  What does the x86 stand for?  Also, what is going on behind the scenes - is it just different drivers or what?

Thanks for the help
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toddpotter
Asked:
toddpotter
2 Solutions
 
LeeTutorretiredCommented:
First of all, this page explains the difference between those three versions of SQL Server Express 2008:

http://blogs.msdn.com/psssql/archive/2008/08/28/sql-server-2008-express-net-framework-2-0-sp2-and-3-5-sp1-explained.aspx

Quote:

For SQL Server 2008 Express Core, you have a choice of 3 packages:

SQLEXPR32_x86_ENU.exe - This contains 32bit binaries only. If you are only installing on a 32bit operating system, use this package.

SQLEXPR_x86_ENU.exe - This contains the same binaries as the 32bit only package plus some x64 binaries so that you can install SQL Express in a WoW environment. Use this package if you want to install SQL Server 2008 Express 32bit on a 64bit operating system.

SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe - x64 package for native x64 SQL Server Express on a 64bit operating system.

As for understanding the term x86, see this Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86

And for your last question, I am sure there are differences not only in drivers, but also in the kernel system files, which must be different because they are handling either 32-bit architecture or 64-bit architecture, and as explained in the above article the assembly language instruction sets are different.
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Sci-Fi-SiCommented:
x86 is the generic way for naming older PC microprocessors

eg 80386 is the name for processors that were available for PC's in about the 1990's as chip technology improved and CPU frequencies got higher processor models such as the 80486 and 80586 (also known at the first Pentium processor) became available.

When I was writing video games in machine code back in the 80's and 90's I programmed a 6502 processor which was 8 bit and opperated on a frequency of 0.7MHz

The number of 'bits' is the number of 0's and 1's a processor can handle simultaneously, its also a measure of how much RAM (Random Access Memory) the microprocessor can access in it's address bus, so 32 bits can access 2^32 bits or RAM, a 64bit processor can access 2^64 bits or RAM which is vastly larger.

Learning machine code is lots of fun, it also means you can program at the lowest possible level - the same level at which the microprocessor operates, no easy to read friendly names, just pure logic every step of the way.

Programming in code is a bit redundent these days as the processors are over 1000's of times faster but for maximum speed go no higher level than C.

All the best
Sci-Fi Si
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