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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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RE: What?
By JasonMick on 8/4/2008 10:24:51 AM , Rating: 5
That's kinda unfair to adobe. They just released their photoshop lightroom 64 bit version:

Their full creative suite -- illustrator, photoshop, etc. is going 64-bit w/ CS4:

Though Apple OS users won't get 64-bit versions of creative suite for much longer as Apple has refused to rewrite a 64-bit version of its Carbon API, on which many applications, including Adobe's suite are based.


RE: What?
By neothe0ne on 8/4/08, Rating: -1
RE: What?
By JasonMick on 8/4/2008 11:06:33 AM , Rating: 3

CS3 is not a 64-bit product. Wait for CS4 for that.

But in the meantime Lightroom is 64-bit and should show much better performance. Played with CS3, but haven't had a chance to use Lightroom yet, so I can't personally report a performance increase, but it seems likely.

Again a major holdup has been Apple switching its APIs. Although Apple has a small userbase, it commands much business in the graphics industry, thus this is a major concern for Adobe.

Blaming Adobe for the slowness in releasing its products is kinda like blaming Microsoft for poor Vista driver support. Obviously in both cases the blame largely lies outside the company.

And CS3 should load faster in 64-bit than 32-bit, according to Adobe, despite the fact that the product itself is not fully 32-bit. There is a relative lack of comparative benchmarks, but I've ran it in Vista v. XP, 64 bit xp v. 32 bit xp and haven't noticed poor performance. Do you have network printers installed?

Vista in some benchmarks is shown to be slower (sans load times) than XP with CS3. Have you tried CS3 with 64-bit XP???

RE: What?
By wordsworm on 8/4/2008 11:14:00 AM , Rating: 2
I was pretty sure I was up-to-date on the Photoshop/Apple drama, and was surprised by your post. I then read the link you provided, and it basically said the same stuff as I had read earlier this year.

They're of course not rewriting 64 bit in Carbon because they're switching over to cocoa, which is what Apple changed its tune to. They would have to be insane not to rewrite Adobe to fit with Apple. Apple is also working hard with Adobe to make it work.

Adobe gets castigated for "dragging its feet" on Cocoa/x64. This charge will be inevitable, I suppose, but I want you to know that we started work on the problem immediately after WWDC '07.

There is no question that they're working as hard as possible to create a 64 bit version of Photoshop for Apple. Most Apple users will wait for the Apple upgrade before making the move. Photoshop and other design and/or publishing suites for corporations is where Apple is king. I've never seen a lab that's dominated by PC in these fields. However, it's going to take time for the software to get rewritten in Cocoa, which is essentially what that link has said.

Photoshop, even the 32 bit version, has always worked better in a 64 bit environment. I can open several documents at 2GB a piece (for as much hardware I've got to back it up) on Vista 64 without breaking a sweat. You simply couldn't do that on Vista 32 or XP 32 (although theoretically you could've gotten away with it on 2000 with its extensions - PAE I believe it's referred to, nor did I ever run Photoshop on 2000, so I'm just guessing. However, PAE sucks since it's so slow).

I haven't gotten around to shelling $1,000 to replace Photoshop CS2, nor do I plan on doing it in the near future, so I can't really comment on CS3. However, I wish that wasn't the case. The pro version has some pretty awesome features for applying filters on frames. I have this image of playing around with the type of trippy stuff they did with the Lord of the Rings back in the 70s. Of course, I don't have the budget to run a fully fledged film - but a short or two might be a lot of fun.

A later poster mentioned that CS3 quadruples requirements - but that's what software is meant to do - push the requirements of a given machine to drastically improve what it can actually do. I don't see people going around complaining about how Crysis requires so much hardware to get a smooth frame-rate. How would a professional piece of software be any different? Why wouldn't it push current hardware to its limit?

RE: What?
By neothe0ne on 8/4/2008 3:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
"Quadruple requirements" refers to Premiere Pro CS3's RAM usage in Vista 64 as compared to XP 86, all while taking a huge lag hit. That's not "pushing hardware", that's bad performance and bad code.

Unless someone wants to prove that AMD processors natively perform worse than Intel processors in Vista 64, I'm going to believe the blame lies with Adobe here.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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