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What is the difference between standard i386 download and the amd64 download of Ubuntu 11.04? I am currently running the i386 on an amd machine, would my system work better with the amd64 download instead? (my machine was running Windows 7 64bit, but I neglected to look at that prior to installing Ubuntu).

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Related (but not a duplicate): Is the 64-Bit version of Ubuntu only compatible with AMD CPUs? –  Eliah Kagan Sep 11 at 10:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 46 down vote accepted

i386 refers to the 32-bit edition and amd64 (or x86_64) refers to the 64-bit edition.

Wikipedia's i386 entry:

The Intel 80386, also known as the i386, or just 386, was a 32-bit microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1985... This is termed x86, IA-32, or the i386-architecture, depending on context.

Wikipedia's x86_64 entry:

x86-64 is an extension of the x86 instruction set. It supports vastly larger virtual and physical address spaces than are possible on x86, thereby allowing programmers to conveniently work with much larger data sets... After launching the architecture under the "x86-64" name, AMD renamed it AMD64... x86-64 is still used by many in the industry as a vendor-neutral term, while others, notably Sun Microsystems (now Oracle Corporation) and Microsoft, use x64.

Even if you have an intel CPU AMD64 is what you'd use to install 64-bit on your computer (it uses the same instruction sets).

I highly recommend using it. For the most part you will not notice a difference but for large workloads (such as video editing, gaming, etc), the computer will perform faster (the computer has the ability to calculate 2+2+2=6 instead of having to do 2+2=4+2=6 in an example). In the windows world, a 32-bit OS will not let you use more than 3.5 Gigs of RAM on your computer (even if you have 8!). You'd need to use a 64-bit OS in order to fully use lots of RAM. For Linux, however, there's no such limit (thanks, Uri).

Regardless, the world has shifted from 32 bit and it's only there to support older machines that are incapable of running 64 bit. The upcoming Windows 8 is said to support 128 bit, to give you an idea of 32's age!

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That last part, is now (in Linux of course) Just not true, you CAN use more than the 3.5GB of RAM with the PAE kernel in 32 bit . –  Uri Herrera Jul 24 '11 at 0:11
    
wouldn't the 3.5gbs of ram limitation of 32bit be 4gbs-<graphics card memory> ? –  Chriskin Jul 24 '11 at 0:11
    
For the sake of simplicity I have omitted technicalities such as the graphics card memory. My aim was to say "if you have more than 3.5-4 gigs, use 64 bit". –  user6658 Jul 24 '11 at 0:15
    
One can still have 3.5+ RAm left and not use an IGP. –  Uri Herrera Jul 24 '11 at 0:17
    
So it can. Never knew that such a patch was in the kernel (I only used 32 bit on machines that were too underpowered for me to ever even experience my imaginary RAM cap). I'll update the answer. Thanks for educating me :). –  user6658 Jul 24 '11 at 0:22

The architecture is named after AMD because AMD invented it, with the Athlon 64. Similarly, the 32-bit i386 architecture is named after Intel's 386 processor, because it was the first of its kind, but i386 will also work on AMD processors. So yes you can use that ISO image.

Source: http://superuser.com/questions/128482/ubuntu-amd64-vs-i386

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Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate you help. –  Dave Wolover Jun 1 '12 at 14:19

Yes, you can use that .ISO. amd64 refers to the architecture. AMD was the first to create a 64-bit CPU, so I believe it was named this at the time, and the name stuck. It seems a little confusing, but amd64 just means 64-bit.

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They were not the first to create a 64-bit cpu. Intel had one before but it was not backward compatible, so was not widely adopted. The name amd64 was to differentiate AMD's architecture from Intel's IA64, which has now been discontinued. –  psusi May 31 '12 at 22:09
    
Thanks a lot for helping me get this straight. –  Dave Wolover Jun 1 '12 at 14:19

yes you can install amd64 bit to Intel 64 bit processor. AMD invented x86-64 bit instruction set processor so the name is just a tribute to AMD.

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Thank you for clearing this up. I know it was a simple question, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere. –  Dave Wolover Jun 1 '12 at 14:22

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