Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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).

share|improve this question
Related (but not a duplicate): Is the 64-Bit version of Ubuntu only compatible with AMD CPUs? – Eliah Kagan Sep 11 '14 at 10:19
up vote 83 down vote accepted

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

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, you should use AMD64 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 all 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!

share|improve this answer
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
@Treefroginc What exact Tweaks? – Uri Herrera Jul 24 '11 at 0:40
64 bit is every bit as usable and stable as 32 bit with the almost negligible exception of Flash under certain circumstances during a certain time of day and if the planets align giving out cosmic rays. – user6658 Jul 24 '11 at 5:50

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.


share|improve this answer
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.

share|improve this answer
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.

share|improve this answer
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

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.