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What Now?

Your 64-Bit Check List: Potential Issues You Might See
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Some of these issues may sound pretty disappointing, especially given that there are at most few performance advantages for 64-bit Windows versions, and potentially none at all. However, there are a few important facts that are worth keeping in mind:

  • A 64-bit OS version provides more advantages than disadvantages, mostly support for 3+ GB of memory, in the light of cheap 8 GB memory kits.
  • 64-bit systems don’t perform significantly different than 32-bit systems with the exception of very few applications in the high end.
  • The driver situation has been rather good in the last few months, but it may still happen that you don’t find a 64-bit driver for some of your hardware.
  • Driver support for notebooks may still be tricky; check carefully.
  • There is nothing wrong with 32-bit Windows either, if you can live with the fact that the switch to 64-bit will require a complete reinstall.
  • Any system with an OS partition of 2+ TB will require a platform using EFI instead of a conventional BIOS to boot into the operating system.

Conclusions

  • Memory kits with 4 GB or even 8 GB of RAM are really affordable, and they speed up your system noticeably due to less swap file and SuperFetch activity in Windows Vista.
  • Enthusiasts really should go for a 64-bit solution, even if they have to replace some older peripherals or components.
  • 64 bit on notebooks makes less sense, as the platform memory limit typically has been 4 GB. However, if driver support is available, we recommend going for this option for the sake of performance.
  • It is safe to go for a 64-bit operating system if you are about to buy a new PC or notebook, especially if the system comes with the 64-bit OS version.
  • Upgrading an existing system to 64 bits requires some research into driver compatibility and some of the other issues we’ve discussed above.

In closing, we have another recent article on the advantages of a 64-bit environment for gaming, which we recommend that you read: Gaming in 64 Bits: Tom’s Tests, Microsoft Weighs In.

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  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 16 June 2009 16:41
    "The list of features introduced by the EFI includes DRM, [...]"

    Can you elaborate?
  • 0 Hide
    waxdart , 16 June 2009 16:48
    mi1ez"The list of features introduced by the EFI includes DRM, [...]"Can you elaborate?


    It's all about jamming DRM/Trusted Computing down everyone’s throat.
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?no_d2=1&sid=05/07/26/1226233

  • 0 Hide
    Tweedledum , 16 June 2009 17:38
    "operating system processes are mapped into the address space, resulting in an effective memory capacity of 3 GB". Thats not actualy correct, its that fact that the systems hardware, HDD, IDE Controler, Graphics Card, ect, all have memory addresses that have to come out of the same range as the physical memory. This is why 4GB often shows as ~3GB in the BIOS as well.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 17 June 2009 05:46
    The comment about "scientific applications that do not deliver sufficiently precise results" on 32 bit OSs is nonsense. Floating point processors since the 8087, which partnered the first generation of IBM PC processors, have offered hardware support for 64 bit floating point numbers. The main difference that 64 bit processing makes is to increase the address space, allowing bigger problems to be tackled.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 18 June 2009 10:58
    But why would you want to boot from a 2TB+ RAID array anyway?

    If I had a 2TB+ RAID array, I'd use it as secondary storage and boot the OS (be it WinXP, Vista, Linux) from a smaller HDD.
    Is it is now, I use a 120GB HDD for WinXP SP3 and 2 500GB HDDs in a RAID0 array for backup/storage/music/etc...
  • 0 Hide
    phcahill , 18 June 2009 18:49
    No 64bit version of office. No 64bit odbc drivers either. Not good when interfacing Sql Server to office data.
  • 0 Hide
    jwoollis , 22 June 2009 14:50
    Few if any people seem to have considered or mentioned the fact that if there are hardware compatability issues with 64bit Windows, it would be possible to run 32bit windows in a Virtual Environment such as VMware to support older applications. In respect of drivers, many USB devices can be used through a virtual machine by using a network based USB HUB such as Belkin F5L009 which bypasses the host connection issue altogether. It would be possible to connect many none USB device (serial, parallel, PCMCIA, ExpressCard etc) via a USB connection (albeit possibly at a reduced speed). This would leave support only for certain motherboard components and Expansion cards as the only real problem for supported drivers and limit choice to perhaps a generic Vista Driver or a replacement component.
  • 0 Hide
    jwoollis , 22 June 2009 14:56
    I am curious as to the potential to use any memory above the maximum limit (including memory remapped by using large memory devices such as video cards) for a 32bit OS where this limit varies between 3 and 4GB not counting remapped memory.

    Is it possible to reclaim some of this memory either by just using a RAMDRIVE or failing this, could it not be possible to use a Hypervisor to install multiple OS and split the physical memory between the two machines having either 2x2GB or 3GB+1GB or similar splits.