In the Debian download CD/DVD images page they have different ISO's for the different instruction set architectures. How do I know what is the ISA of a CPU before I buy one? I know about using the commands

cat /proc/cpuinfo



but these are only good after getting the CPU and running these commands on a Linux based OS. How do I find out this information before getting the CPU?

For example the CPU: Intel(r) core(tm) i5-6300hq cpu @ 2.30ghz In the official intel website they show the ISA is "64 bits". But nothing specific as mentioned in the debian website: amd64 / arm64 / armel / armhf / i386 / mips64el /mipsel / ppc64el / s390x / multi-arch

Can someone tell me how they would go about finding this information?

  • Does this answer your question? How to determine Linux kernel architecture? Aug 13, 2022 at 18:02
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    @RomeoNinov no it doesn't. I want to find out this information about a CPU before getting the CPU. Running any commands means I already have the CPU on a machine and I'm running the commands on a terminal. In my case I don't have the CPU yet. Hope that makes sense. Aug 13, 2022 at 18:08
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    In such case your question have nothing to do with UNIX/Linux. Aug 13, 2022 at 18:18
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    The manufacturer and/or vendor of a PC computer is specifying the CPU and the manufacturer of the CPU is specifying the architecture of the CPU. Your example with Intel i5 64-bit corresponds to amd64 in Linux terminology. In other words, a Linux distro and version with amd64 architecture is made to work in a PC with a 64-bit CPU. Except for arm architecture, which is used for example in Raspberry Pi the other architectures are not used much nowadays, at least not in computers sold to private persons.
    – sudodus
    Aug 13, 2022 at 20:01
  • Determining whether or not a certain executable would run on a certain CPU gets more complicated if we account for ISA extensions such as SSE4.2 or AVX-512. But it seems to be beyond the question's scope.
    – undercat
    Aug 14, 2022 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


If you don't have the cpu, I presume you are buying one or something.

If that is the case, then you can find out everything about the prospective cpu you are going to buy by looking up the data by the model number of the cpu you are looking at.

You can guess the architecture by the manufacturer, as most manufacturers (e.g., Intel) only produce a small number of architectures (for intel, currently, AMD64 aka x86-64, but i386 and IA-64 in the past).

Typically the model number of the cpu will allow you to look up even more detailed information. Wikipedia typically has well collected data in tables on this, but you can also typically find this on the manufacturers' websites.

For your specific example i5-6300hq, a google search finds a reference to it in the wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_i5_processors (with a specific table entry for your example further down) which in turn calls this an "Intel Core" processor, which links to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Core

In the side bar on this page, it lists x86-64, linked to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86-64 and the first line of that page lists AMD64.

Each of these pages has abundant details on what each classification means and how it relates to similar cpus, including the outdated i386 and IA-64.


Tl;dr: recent desktop CPUs are almost certainly AMD64

Generally, new desktop CPUs will be AMD64 (even if they are from Intel). So if you have a desktop computer or a laptop, it is almost certainly AMD64. There are a some old machines that will be i386 (a 32-bit archetecture), and here and there you'll see a machine with some other archetecutre, more often on old computers.

Some small devices (tablets, phones, SBCs*) often use ARM. For example, the Raspberry Pi 4 will have ARM CPUs. For example, that one has an ARM v8 CPU (there are several different ARM versions).

*Single Board Computers - i.e., Raspberry Pi's are often some version of ARM.

If it doesn't say and it is recent, it is most likely AMD64. If it is, for exampple, ARM, it will almost certainly say. For example, the Cortex-A72 CPU says this, indicating compatibility with ARMV7, but also support for Aarch64 (a.k.a. ARM64)

AArch32 for full backward compatibility with Armv7 ... AArch64 for 64-bit support and new architectural features

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