What is 32-bit?


32-bit is a common measure of computer information and an attribute of computer systems.

Each bit can have two values so 32 bits can have 232 values. This is equivalent to over 4 billion values (4,294,967,296 in decimal and 100000000 in hexadecimal).

How 32-bit values compare with others
Number of bits Decimal
8 256 100
16 65,536 1 0000
32 4,294,967,296 1 0000 0000
64 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 1 0000 0000 0000 0000


Common uses of 32-bits
Category Description

32-bit CPUs process information 32-bits at a time. This was the most common computer processor through most of the 1990s through the 2000s until 64-bit computers started to dominate.

CPU support

32-bit hardware is common but not in graphic cards which tend to be at least 64-bit.

Software All Microsoft Windows desktop versions from Windows 95  have had 32-bit options. Windows Server versions are now starting to drop 32-bit versions alltogether.
Communications and networking IPv4 addressing is 32-bit.

32-bit display is recommended for Windows. it is essentially 24-bit with an 8-bit alpha channel. Windows images have been optimized for 32-bit since Windows XP.


32-bit is a color depth used to represent colors in an image. Typically, only 30 of the 32-bits are used so that each RGB color has 10-bits. But 32-bits are also used for High Dynamic Range where the color difference needs to be heightened. This is useful where your digital camera does not have enough dynamic range to capture the differences that are visible to the naked eye. See Best Free High Dynamic Range Software.

32-bit can also refer to 24-bit RGB (8-bits per channel) with a fourth alpha transparency channel for merging an image with a background.


32-bit audio is overkill except for professional editing to increase dynamic ranges and to reduce noise, clipping and other artefacts of editing. For the rest of us 24-bit audio is probably good enough.


32-bit cryptography is too easy to crack with only 4 billion values. 32-bit processing features are commonly used to process longer keys..


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