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Sales are perking up for 64-bit after years of dominance by 32-bit OS's

The hottest buzz in the tech industry in 2003 was 64-bit hardware and operating systems. That year the industry seemed on the verge of a computer revolution.  Then AMD CEO Hector Ruiz stated, "Our industry, right now, is hungry for another round of innovation."

AMD released its first 64-bit processors that year.  While sales were decent, there was no consumer 64-bit operating system to take advantage of the hardware.  Then finally in 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP in 64-bit form.  Yet again the 64-bit industry seemed set to explode.

The release was met with much criticism, though.  Part of the problem was necessity -- even in 2005 the average user did not need more than 2 GB, in most circumstances.  Another major hitch was driver support.  All drivers had to be rewritten to work with the new width.

Despite these difficulties, three years later, for the first time, the 64-bit industry is at last healthy and growing.  With virtually all new processors from Intel and AMD supporting 64-bit, 64-bit OS's are flourishing as well. 

In a recent blog, Microsoft's Chris Flores reported that 20 percent of new Windows systems connecting to Windows Update were 64-bit.  This is up from a mere 3 percent in March.  He stated, "Put more simply, usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit.  Based on current trends, this growth will accelerate as the retail channel shifts to supplying a rapidly increasing assortment of 64-bit desktops and laptops."

Retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City are also catching on to the trend, offering largely 64-bit OS-equipped machines for their most heavily advertised models.  Many manufacturers are also throwing in their support; Gateway will be transitioning its entire desktop line to 64-bit in time for the back-to-school shopping season.  To put this in perspective, in its first quarter, only 5 percent of Gateway's notebooks and desktops were 64-bit.  In its third quarter, a whopping 95 percent of desktops will be 64-bit and 30 percent of notebooks will be.

Aside from the increased memory, one other possible cause for adoption is the increased availability of software that takes advantage of the increased capacity.  Adobe's various graphical design product lines have been revamped for 64-bit.  Another drive may be gaming, which is typically memory hungry. "64-bit versions of Windows will begin to find their way into high-end gaming notebooks, which increasingly are being used as high-end notebook workstations as opposed to strictly gaming systems," said IDC analyst Richard Shim.

Finally, it may just be inevitability that is helping 64-bit.  While the upgrade will only provide subtle benefits to the majority of users, even power users, it is an iterative advance.  And like most advances, after a period of reticence, people are finally warming up to it.



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New systems 64-bit
By TheSpaniard on 8/4/2008 10:11:26 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that if you own a copy of Windows Vista you can change over to 64-bit for the cost of the CD? I know that's why my box is 64-bit! but there really is no reason for it other than instead of 3.2 gb ram I have 4. other than that I have to use 32-bit browser (Firefox dosen't have 64 I think) and none of my games have 64 bit versions.




RE: New systems 64-bit
By FITCamaro on 8/4/2008 10:20:01 AM , Rating: 2
I thought Age of Conan was supposed to have a 64-bit executable. But apparently I was wrong. Maybe its coming with the DX10 update. I don't think the need for a 64-bit web browser is that critical though.


RE: New systems 64-bit
By Spivonious on 8/4/2008 10:34:19 AM , Rating: 2
Halflife 2 has a 64-bit version. Steam automatically loads it if you're on a 64-bit OS.


RE: New systems 64-bit
By rninneman on 8/4/2008 10:44:05 AM , Rating: 2
Crysis has a 64bit executable. The biggest difference I noticed between the 32bit and 64bit version were load times. The 64bit version loaded levels much faster. I didn't play the 32bit version enough to notice much else.


RE: New systems 64-bit
By Aeros on 8/4/2008 10:52:32 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
and none of my games have 64 bit versions.


From: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,1857478...

"The key to running 32-bit applications is something Microsoft dubs WOW64; WOW stands for Windows on Windows. Running 32-bit apps in x64 essentially gives each application its own 4GB of virtual memory space, which isolates it from other applications."

Nearly all modern games will run in a 64 bit OS, with the added cavaet of a larger memory addressing scheme for games that use more than 2GB of memeory. So in addition to "seeing" all 4GB of RAM, applications that need to can address larger amounts of memory in a 64 bit enviorement - even 32 bit apps.

Here is a great article in reference to gaming 32 bit vs 64 bit:
Part 1 - http://www.anandtech.com/gadgets/showdoc.aspx?i=30...

Part 2 - http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...

Part 3 - http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=30...

For a very nice list of Vista supported games etc... http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/232602-44-list-v...


RE: New systems 64-bit
By TheSpaniard on 8/4/2008 10:55:21 AM , Rating: 2
I know that the games RUN in a 64bit enviroment! I play them.

PS: was not aware of Halflife 2 being 64bit thanks for the heads up!


RE: New systems 64-bit
By jvillaro on 8/4/2008 12:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Firefox dosen't have 64 I think


Hey man I was looking around and found this page.
http://www.start64.com/

I found a very early alpha of Firefox 64:
http://www.start64.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

It's by no means a final or even a pre-release but it's coming. The project codename is Minefield. The bad thing is that we're still without 64bit flash pluggins (Not that I like it but you need it now for so much content).

The page is kinda cool and I loved some things I found like the Vista Codec Pack and the 64bit components for it. It's a compilation of all the important codecs (at least for me) and makes everything work perfect on Windows Media Player or other players and Media Center, even the subtitles.

There is also a good amount of great games on 64bit and more are coming so thats good in my book.


RE: New systems 64-bit
By diabloazul126 on 8/4/2008 12:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
I think Firefox x64 (Minefield) has been in alpha for a long time, I have no objections to using a alpha/beta x64 program for experimentation, but internet browsing with an x64 browser sans flash x64 make half of the internet un-renderable. Adobe needs to step it up, or Microsoft with their silverlight.

Seriously.


RE: New systems 64-bit
By AnnihilatorX on 8/4/2008 1:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if extensions will work for FF 64bit.
I can't live without FF extensions :)


RE: New systems 64-bit
By diabloazul126 on 8/4/2008 1:31:29 PM , Rating: 2
Some do, I think. I'll have to experiment again, later.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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