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Author Topic: 64 Bit CPU - Is it worth it?  (Read 8085 times)
Deozaan
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« on: January 18, 2008, 05:39:19 PM »

I did a quick search on the topic and found that there have been similar threads about 64-bit software, but with so many recent threads about building a new PC I've got to ask: Is it really worth it to get a 64-bit CPU?

In mid-2005 I bought the computer I'm currently using. If I recall correctly, this was before dual core processors were available or else they were prohibitively expensive. I decided to go with a 64-bit processor (AMD Athlon 64 3500+) for that "improved" performance.

Once all my computer parts arrived and the PC was built I very quickly found out that nothing had really been designed for 64-bit CPUs and I was actually an early-ish adopter! To me it felt like the CPU was wasted because though there was Windows XP 64-bit, there were virtually no drivers and no software designed for 64-bit architecture. I was forced to "downgrade" from XP64 to regular old XP just to get my hardware to work.

Now it's 2.5 years later and there's Vista 64-bit, with more drivers, but I still don't see much benefit of a 64-bit system other than the potential to use more than 4GB of RAM. And while the idea of >4GB of RAM is indeed a dreamy dream, I've got 2GB and I'm doing just fine with that.

To get back to the question: Is it worth it to get a 64-bit CPU or would you be better off looking for multicore processors? Or both? Is there really any actual, present, and noticeable benefit in using a 64-bit CPU?
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 05:49:35 PM »

f0dder seems to be the resident expert here, and i don't know much about hardware.
but my basic understanding is that all of the new cpu's are 64bit.

the question is not whether to get a 64bit cpu, everything you buy now, all the dual cores, etc., they are all 64bit cpus.
the question is whether to try to use a 64bit native operating system with your new cpu.
there doesn't yet seem to be much reason to do so.
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ChrisB257
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 06:14:45 PM »

Hi - noob here .......... the thing I'd be concerned about is software compatibility .... seeing as when from back in the old days of my old DX4-66 I ran any and all 16 bit app's just fine.  Over time and by time I got up to P4 and XP etc ... one of my fave old app's (Autosketch v2) ...... no go.

So - just thinking ahead as to whether 64 bit will limit any current app's.
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mwb1100
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 06:34:43 PM »

As Mouser said - you'd have to go out of your way to get a processor that was not 64-bit capable.  In my opinion, unless you know you need the large amount of memory that 64-bit enables, or you want to be on the technology cutting edge there's no reason to install a 64-bit OS.

However, dual-core is definitely worth it.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2008, 06:39:21 PM »

Don't think there are backward compatability issues with 64 bit CPUs at least none that I have noticed (you can still install 32 bit OSes, not sure about 16 bits OSes though).

There are two huge advantage to using 64 bit CPUs -

  • you can buy them easily
  • they will be a lot cheaper than 32 bit CPUs (even if you can find any)

Realistically are there any motherboards still available out there that still support 32 bit CPUs? You may find the odd one left over in a shop or in a sale online but you will be hard pressed to find any that are still being made.
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justice
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2008, 06:41:27 PM »

64-32bit: servers yes, desktop no.
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Renegade
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 09:04:45 AM »

64-32bit: servers yes, desktop no.


Hmmm... Understatement/Overstatement...

For servers, that's an understatement. Nothing in the future will work with 32 bit processors. Vendors are all dropping 32 bit support. (MS has already.)

For the desktop... I'm on the "it depends" fence there. If you need to run software that only runs on 32 bit CPUs, then go there. But if you're forward looking, get 64 bit.

With servers, upgrading is a major deal. With a desktop, who cares? For a desktop, you unplug it... AACCKK! That would never happen for a server... I think you get my drift there.

But even for the desktop arena, I see a lot of vendors going 64 bit now (component vendors included).

I like to buy for tomorrow, because that's always where the computing market is. But, if I need something that won't go there, it's a no brainer. Stick with what works.
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f0dder
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2008, 10:51:50 AM »

Only real problem with running a 64bit windows is that you can no longer run 16bit apps (which includes a lot of installers, idiotic installer developers >_<), and that you can't use 32bit drivers (which isn't much of a problem anymore, except it means you need to get cracks for your legally purchased games, since some of those use (32bit) drivers for software protection).

Other than that, a few dirtily coded apps might break under a 64bit Windows, but most stuff runs fine. You won't notice much improvement in everyday use, but applications compiled for x64 which are compute-intensive can benefit a lot... this would include 3D rendering and whatnot. Oh, and the ability to stuff in a lot of RAM and use it, that requires 64bit.

I'm running XP64 myself, and haven't had any problems doing it this time around. First install several years ago didn't last long because drivers back then sucked smiley
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2008, 10:55:08 AM »

in addition to driver incompatibilities (if you have older hardware you might be in trouble), one of the other things that is not compatible is many of the context menu extensions of programs.  So you may find that your favorite context menu extension tools wont run right on Windows 64.
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f0dder
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2008, 11:01:20 AM »

Ah yes, context menu extensions...

Well, use a 32bit file manager instead of explorer, and then those shell extensions work again smiley
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f0dder
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 01:16:06 PM »

Ah, by the way, I recently did bump into some trouble: digital signature updates. In Denmark, the government gives you the option of getting a digital crypto signature to verify yourself against government self-service sites and the like, and it also lets third parties use this verification. Very useful stuff, since that's a lot less passwords and account names to memorize.

Digital certificates have expiration dates, so you need to renew every once in a while. Guess what? They don't really like firefox. "You have Sun Microsystems Inc. 1.6.0_03 but we require  Suns Java v. 1.4.1 or higher" - very useful error message. And for IE, the required Active-X component is 32-bit only.

Good thing that 64-bit XP has both 64- and 32-bit IE installed... launching 32-bit IE let me renew the signature, which I could then export to .pkcs12 format, and then import into firefox. But sheesh, some coders really deserve a good ol' spanking smiley
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2008, 06:05:11 AM »

What is it with the Sun Java crowd that prevents them from ever creating and using an effective version checking system?!? I run into that mess rather frequently and it's a major part of why I hate Java bases applications.

(On Topic side note)
Vista x64 also has both a 32 & 64 bit copy of IE.
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f0dder
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2008, 06:12:32 AM »

And what is it with the Sun JAVA developers that cause their JVM to be so horribly slow and inefficient? I believe that's the real reason the whole lawsuit against Microsoft's JAVA implementation was launched, because it made Sun look incompetent.
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- carpe noctem
Ath
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2008, 04:50:18 PM »

The good side of running Vista x64 on a 64 bit capable CPU finally came to light today as I was able to install the Windows Server 2008 (RTM, not RC) released yesterday (on MSDN) in a VMWare Workstation 6 x64 session, and I had it running without a hitch in under 1 hour. Rest of the software (app-testing) comes later...
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mwb1100
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2008, 05:40:15 PM »

The good side of running Vista x64 on a 64 bit capable CPU...

Just a note of clarification - you can run 64-bit guests using VMware Workstation (5.5 or newer) even if the host OS is 32-bit.  Whether VMware will run a 64-bit guest VM depends only on the processor, not whether the host is in 64-bit mode.  However, not all x64 processors are supported for running 64-bit guests.

Note that MS Virtual PC/Virtual Server do not support 64-bit guests at all (though they will run on a 64-bit host).
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