A 64-bit processor is a microprocessor with a word size of 64 bits, a requirement for memory and data intensive applications such as computer-aided design (CAD) applications, database management systems, technical and scientific applications, and high-performance servers. 64-bit computer architecture provides higher performance than 32-bit architecture by handling twice as many bits of information in the same clock cycle.
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The 64-bit processor is backwards compatible with older applications and operating systems; it detects whether an application or operating system is 16-bit, 32-bit, or 64-bit and computes accordingly. This is essential for enterprise situations where purchasing new software is not feasible.
Intel, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, and AMD currently develop or offer 64-bit processors.