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Old 12-12-2011, 06:58 AM   #1
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Which processor architectures do I have?

Hi all,
I need help determining which processor architectures I own so I can download the appropriate Linux distributions for each of them. I'm fairly sure I have all 64-bit processors (I think), but I'm not sure which architecture they are (i686, x86 or something else). The first pc has an Intel Celeron 420 1.60 GHz, the second one is an AMD Athlon II Dual-Core M300 2.00 GHz, and the last one is an Intel Pentium Dual core E2180 at 2.00 GHz.

Thank you
Old 12-12-2011, 07:18 AM   #2
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I've been using Linux for a while now and I still keep forgetting how to do this, so I have a handy page bookmarked:

Basically, start a terminal window & type in:

uname -m
The link above tells you how to interpret the results.
Old 12-12-2011, 07:23 AM   #3
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...and if you want all details about all your hardware, use lshw.

If it's not on your system(s), the source code is found at

Hope this helps some.
Old 12-12-2011, 07:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by punchy71 View Post
I'm fairly sure I have all 64-bit processors (I think), but I'm not sure which architecture they are (i686, x86 or something else).
All the 64 bit processors in the Intel/AMD x86 family support the same two different architectures (each processor supports both these architectures):

They all support a 64 bit architecture, which has various names: x86-64, AMD64, EM64T. When downloading software, it doesn't matter which of those is named, they all refer to the same architecture.

They all support a superset of the various 32 bit x86 architectures, such as i686. When downloading software, you might want to select software compiled for the more advanced 32 bit architecture (i686 vs. i486). But any 32 bit architecture software works with any x86-64 CPU. The choice of which 32 bit software you use should not be influenced by which 64 bit CPU you use it on.

For extremes of squeezing the last spec of performance in a CPU specific manner, you might consider the L2 cache size for each CPU (you can look those up online). With a relatively low L2 cache size, many applications run fastest if you have installed a 32bit application on a 64bit OS (below 2GB physical ram, they might be a bit faster on a 32 bit OS). With higher L2 cache size, a lot of that performance difference goes away and those applications run just as fast pure 64 bit. Many other applications simply run faster in 64 bit regardless of all those hardware details, so first you need to distinguish those before you start micro managing the details by L2 cache size. I only included that L2 cache info because you seem intent on distinguishing between your CPU chips for optimum software choices.

If you do want to try installing 32 bit applications in 64 bit Linux (for performance comparison and/or general use), that is possible in both Debian based distributions such as Ubuntu and in Red Hat based distributions such as Centos or Fedora. But it is significantly easier in Red Hat based distributions than in Debian based. The 32 bit apps will run just as well once properly installed in Debian based, but the effort to get them properly installed may be much greater.

When choosing between a 32 bit and 64 bit OS, be aware that a 64 bit OS can run both 32 bit and 64 bit programs, while a 32 bit OS cannot run 64 bit programs. Also be aware, there is a moderate amount of extra overhead in both physical ram and hard disk space to running a 64 bit OS vs. 32 bit. If you have decent size ram and disk that extra overhead is too trivial to worry about. With small ram or small disk that overhead might be a big enough fraction of the total to affect your decision. With 2GB or more of ram, I wouldn't worry about the ram aspect of that (even with less than 2GB, I might still select 64 bit). I don't know a similar number for disk size (there are too many other factors) but I wouldn't buy a disk under 500GB anyway and whatever the 32/64 don't care point is for disk size, I'm sure it is FAR below 500GB.

Last edited by johnsfine; 12-12-2011 at 07:52 AM.
Old 12-12-2011, 08:01 AM   #5
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you can execute command
uname -a
Above will tell you all information about the platform and arch also version of kernel.

If find useful do not forget to mark the thread as "solved" by clicking at "thread tools->mark as solved"
Old 12-12-2011, 08:20 AM   #6
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How is the OP going to run uname or lshw on his machine if it's not currently running Linux?

Last edited by alienDog; 12-12-2011 at 08:26 AM.
Old 12-12-2011, 09:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by alienDog View Post
How is the OP going to run uname or lshw on his machine if it's not currently running Linux?
Could try SIW on Windows:
Old 12-12-2011, 12:20 PM   #8
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The most reliable way to determine that would be to ask the manufacturer, I would think:
Intel Celeron 420
Pentium Dual core E2180
AMD Athlon II Dual-Core M300

All of those are processors which use the IA32 instruction set (also known as x86) and can use 64 bit extensions (EM64T for Intel, AMD64 for AMD, also known as x86-64 and, rarely, x64).

Last edited by TobiSGD; 12-12-2011 at 12:31 PM.
Old 12-12-2011, 06:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by alienDog View Post
How is the OP going to run uname or lshw on his machine if it's not currently running Linux?
(There is always a danger that the OP could download a live CD for just this purpose...not necessarily a ridiculous suggestion, if the OP is in a 'distro hopping' phase)

...and its worse than that, in that the 'unames' give you the wrong answer: they answer the question 'What version of the Linux kernel am I running?, or 'For what arch is the kernel in the software that I am running compiled?', when the OP wants to know about the capabilities of the hardware, and not the software that is currently running. So, really, they give a correct answer to the wrong question, but that can still be enough to deceive.

So, for 64 bit x86 hardware (the commonest case, for any recent machine), the hardware is also capable of running 32 bit software, so the 'uname' answer could point towards 32 bit, when the element of the answer that is desired is that this hardware can run 64 bit software (and 32 bit, obviously).

The same isn't true in reverse for older hardware, that was 32 bit only, but it sounds as if the OP doesn't have that.


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