What's holding you back from going down the 64-bit road?

What's holding you back from going down the 64-bit road?

Summary: Why aren't computer users who could run a 64-bit OS (that is, they have drivers for everything in place already) not already doing so?

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TOPICS: Hardware
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A week ago George Ou made a very good post which took an objective look at choosing between x86 32-bit edition or x64 64-bit edition of Windows Vista.  It's a good post and if you've not read it yet, I encourage you to do so.  But there's one point that George didn't consider - why aren't computer users who could run a 64-bit OS (that is, they have drivers for everything in place already) not already doing so?

I think that the reason can be summed up by two words - why bother.

Seriously, while there might be advantages to making the leap from a x86 32-bit operating system to an x64 64-bit OS for servers or certain specialized workstations, for the average desktop user, there's little or no advantage.  Sure, you can boost the amount of RAM that you can utilize from 4GB all the way up to 128GB, but how many desktop or notebook users need more than 4GB of RAM? 

On a side note, I'd suggest that for best performance that you double the amount of RAM that you fit into a system that's going to run a 64-bit OS, so if you're been used to running Vista 32-bit with 1GB of RAM, boost that to 2GB when running a 64-bit OS.

Nope, while the 64-bit road is open to all that have the right hardware (and compatible drivers), but there's little in the way of incentive to take it.  While all your existing hardware might be compatible, you never know when you're going to pick up a scanner or printer that's not compatible, and then you have some serious headaches.

But (there's always a but), even if you're not planning on making the jump to 64-bit right now, it's time to start planning for the future.  There's already a good chance that the next version of Windows (Vienna, Windows 7, whatever you want to call it) will ship as 64-bit only so slowly eliminating hardware that doesn't have 64-bit drivers might be a good idea (although if take-up of 64-bit Vista remains low, and hardware manufacturers continue to ignore x64, Vienna might also come in 32- and 64-bit flavors after all).

Oh, and it's also worth bearing in mind that this isn't something that only Windows users need to think about.  64-bit Linux distros are widespread.  The 64-bit desktop PC is certainly coming, it's just hard to know when.

Thoughts?  Are you already using a 64-bit OS on desktop systems?  Do you have any plans to make the switch?  Are you eliminating hardware that has 32-bit only drivers in preparation for future migration?

Topic: Hardware

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26 comments
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  • Nothing is holding me back.

    I run Vista X64 on the systems I have that are capable of it. So far, I have no driver or software compatability issues.
    ShadeTree
  • I'm already on x64

    I'm running both vista x64 and Xp x64 Dual boot), I find that games run faster on XP then Vista and HP still has not released Vista x64 scanning software for my new printer, yes It has a driver but no scanning software to actually scan with.

    I have noticed I never crash the OS even when run for weeks at a time. Sure I crash apps all the time but am happy that the OS stays up.

    Until games run faster and we get some good DX 10 video cards I'll be running XP x64
    GScully
  • OpenSuSE 10.2 x86_64 baby!

    And 100% flawless functionality! ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • So...

      ...what probs have you encountered with it?
      I've been hesitant to go with x86_64
      D T Schmitz
      • So far...

        absolutely none. Not one single issue. I have already created 20 DVD's in literally no time flat. The dual core AMD is kicking bottom very nicely.

        When I get home I will post the hardware specs... I took my time found what I wanted that fit my needs and my budget. Yeah I could have gotten a few things better, but why? This system works great! ]:)
        Linux User 147560
      • System specs as promised:

        [B]Mother Board:[/B] ASUS M2V <Complies with EU Green requirements>
        [B]CPU:[/B] AMD Athlon 3800+ AM2 2.0GHz Dual Core
        [B]Graphics Card:[/B] MSI NX7300LE 128MB PCI-E nVidia powered
        [B]RAM:[/B] Kingston KHX6400D2K2/2GB 800MHz DDR2
        [B]Hard Drive #1:[/B] Seagate SATA-II 80GB
        [B]Hard Drive #2:[/B] Seagate SATA-II 160GB
        [B]DVD Burner:[/B] Sony 16X
        [B]Printer:[/B] Hewlett Packard Business InkJet 1100
        [B]Power Supply:[/B] Coolmax CA-Series 450W

        Onboard sound and NIC. Only gripe is it's rather loud, but I am working on an acoustic baffle to mute it without impeding air flow. Like I said I haven't had any problems at all. Took about 90 minutes start to finish to install and set up and move my data from my old system, all I did was copy my entire home directory over and logged in. It was like I never changed systems, except this one is MUCH faster! So yeah, about 90 minutes start to finish and I was producing my first DVD in about 2 hours. ]:) And people wonder why I like Linux so much!
        Linux User 147560
        • Crocodile Dundee

          That's not loud...

          ECS 755-A2 socket 754 mainboard
          Athlon 64 3000+ processor
          1GB DDR400 RAM
          nVidia Riva TNT 128 vidcard
          2x Hauppauge PVR-150 tuner
          DVD+-RW drive
          1x 30GB Maxtor DiamondMax HDD for OS
          2x 250GB Hitachi Deskstar HDD
          1x 250GB Seagate Barracuda HDD
          1x 300GB Seagate Barracuda HDD
          1x 200GB Hitachi Deskstar HDD
          1x 160GB WD Caviar HDD

          That's loud :)

          I haven't had a single problem in the 64 bit world. Everything runs flawlessly. I'm doing the Gentoo dance on that system, it's my Myth server (if the drive space wasn't a dead giveaway, heh)
          Sabz5150
        • The difference!

          had it been a Vista box you would have been burning your first DVD in 10 minutes.
          ShadeTree
          • You can install Vista in ten minutes?

            Give me some of that quantum computing!
            Sabz5150
          • note

            Note he said he transferred ALL of his user data as well, did not just install the OS. If, like me, he had been running for a long time on an old michine/install of the OS, he has accumulated a huge amount of data to be transferred.
            I simplify this by completely separating the OS install location from my data (different partitions and drives).
            Azriphale
  • Why bother?

    Exactly right. When I was making this decision a few months ago (and it wasn't with Windows, it was with Linux), I looked at a few graphs and saw no difference in anything other than a slight difference in audio/video encoding. Combined with the fact that, at least a few months ago, it was easier to get Windows codecs working in 32bit Linux than in 64bit Linux (I said easier, I know it is possible with 64bit Linux), I decided that I'd get no benefit and certain things would be more difficult.

    I'm trying to think back on the 16bit-32bit arguments and I don't really remember anyone talking about major speed improvements, only that the ability to address more memory would improve things considerably. Back then, desktop computers were already stretching the limits of memory usage that 16bit programs could use. As of today, the 4GB desktop is still extremely rare and I don't this changing for a few years. Should vendors be prepared for 64bit? Yes, but as a consumer, I'm in no rush to convert. Until there is something I can't do with a 32bit OS (some killer 64bit only app for example), I see no reason to switch.
    NonZealot
  • Three things...

    ...drivers, drivers, and drivers
    D T Schmitz
    • Agreed, drivers and buggy older software

      ... create a hellish landscape for Vista 64 users. Some of the equipment I bought earlier this year (webcam) just plain won't work. Other stuff (Winzip 8) causes loud bleating by Vista on installation.
      Compute_This
  • x64 works great!

    I have an Averatec 4105-EH1 that came with 512 MB RAM. I now have 2GB of RAM and never have slowdowns due to memory problems. It used to take a while to compile videos...now it is fast...really fast. I surf ipv6 as well and IE7 works great in 64bit mose. I don't have the security concers that I had running 32 bit IE as most of the viruses are written in 32 bit code.

    The more I hear the Vista horror stories, the more I like XP x64, I simply have all of my config files and programs on one disk and after the "trial" period ends, I reinstall and slip my files back in. Keeps the system clean and the OS ends up being free...and legal.
    conchchowder
  • Not held back - I embraced it a while back!

    I've been running 64-bit OS since late 2005. At first I was a bit held back by some missing drivers. Since then most have been cleaned up and opened.
    What proved difficult then was some specific apps missing a 64-bit version: 32-bit emulation usually worked well enough then.

    Nowadays I run all 64-bit native apps - especially since I found a test build of OpenOffice.org 2.1.0rc2 in Linux/x86-64 and mplayer got a WMV9 decoder...

    What's nice with GNU/Linux is that, since most drivers are now open and it's been doing 64-bit since the DEC Alpha and iItaniums, porting to a new platform right now is almost an afterthought - for both drivers and applications.

    The benefit? Due to the lesser fragmentation in x86-64 world, all distros can be optimized out of the box for AMD64, SSE1/2, MMX(+) and the like. That alone brings a 10-20% speed boost (compared with generic 586 code, which is still the default for most distributions). Then, single-cyle 64-bit computation can get you an extra boost compared with a split 32-bit computation...

    Right now the only thing 'tainting' my system is a Nvidia display driver (64-bit too). The rest is fully Free 64-bit (apart from a few 32-bit libraries to run 32-bit Wine and Google Earth).
    Mitch 74
  • Ready for ...

    the personal insults to head my way:

    [u]http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/64bit/[/u]
    msalzberg
  • It's not the hardware that's the problem...

    Personally, I don't make enough money to buy all the newest and best toys out there and I get along quite well on what I have for what I do (just slower that's all). The problem that I've heard is not getting hardware for it but getting software that fully utilizes 64 bit processing. Have all the software writers ramped up their software to make full use of 64 bit processing yet? I don't mean rewriting a little code to make it emulate working on a 64 bit procesor but rewriting it so that it fully utilizes the full power of it.
    rnhedges@...
  • 64 Bit OS?

    Nothing is holding me back. I have a Mac. Isn't Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, that's been out
    for quite a while, 64 bit? And why would the average MS Windows user need 64 bit
    computing. It seems to me that only those that need REAL computer horsepower
    (like audio/video/graphics professionals) would require this and would probably
    already have a Mac.
    drgriff33
  • 64 bit benefit

    I mentioned this in an earlier TalkBack, but this seems a more appropriate location. 64bit Vista (RC1, at any rate) has what is for me the major advantage of being able to accept installation of non-English software, in the English OS. That means that as an American living in Japan, I can not only use Japanese in MS Office, which can be done in XP, I can install originally Japanese programs, and everything - menus and all - works just fine. I've never seen this commented on in any MS literature, but it would seem to be a selling point in some markets. Incidentally, I tried it in 32bit RC1 and it didn't work.
    j.c.garrott@...
  • Most definitely

    I use 64-bit for Audio work my software is written for it and my hardware has the correct drivers. The audio quality is withot doubt superior to that of 32-bit
    carolineian2000@...