A CDE Definition
32-bit Compatibility Mode
An operational mode in Intel 64 and AMD64 CPUs that enables 32-bit applications to each use up to 4GB of RAM. Contrast with 32-bit Legacy Mode, in which all 32-bit apps share the same 4GB. See 32-bit computing.
CPUs that process 32 bits as a single unit, compared to 8, 16 or 64. Although 32-bit CPUs were used in mainframes as early as the 1960s, personal computers began to migrate from 16 to 32 bits in the 1980s. Starting with the first 32-bit 386 chips in 1985, Intel x86 CPUs were built with a 16-bit mode for compatibility with 16-bit applications (see 386).
The 32-bit mode does not result in two times as much real work getting done as in 16-bit mode, because it relates to only one aspect of internal processing. The CPU's clock speed, along with the speed, size and architecture of the disks, memory and peripheral bus all play important roles in a computer's performance (see throughput). See 64-bit computing and bit specifications.
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