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Are You Switching to 64-bit Processors? 252

chip_whisperer asks: "I used to be a big time custom desktop builder, making many working boxes per year, but I've been off the bandwagon for about four years now and am trying to get back into it now that Ars Technica has just released their recommendations. The standard seems to be heading towards 64-bit processors, but I'm wondering if it worth it to run a box on XP-64? I've heard that driver support for 64-bit processors can be a hassle. Also, for you fellow Linux geeks, how are current distros (like Suse, Ubuntu, Debian, and others) doing in supporting 64 bit processors?"
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Are You Switching to 64-bit Processors?

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  • Make a list (Score:5, Informative)

    by traindirector ( 1001483 ) * on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:25PM (#17272246)

    Make a list of what XP-64 will do for you that XP won't. If there's anything on that list that really entices you, consider XP-64. If not, forget it, and go along your merry way. XP-64 is guaranteed to give you more driver problems than XP, so if there are no added benefits in using it (which there probably aren't for you, unless you want to use over 2GB of memory), there's no reason for the headache.

    Perhaps a more interesting question would be whether the Windows-users in the Slashdot community plan to run 64-bit Vista, considering its enhanced security (PatchGuard et al.) as well as its enhanced possibilities of restricting you from doing things on your own computer.

    • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:06PM (#17272980)
      Perhaps a more interesting question would be whether the Windows-users in the Slashdot community plan to run 64-bit Vista, considering its enhanced security (PatchGuard et al.) as well as its enhanced possibilities of restricting you from doing things on your own computer.

      I spoke to the /. community's resident Windows user and he is refusing to come out his closet unless you will personally guarantee that the hoard of torch and pitchfork wielding penguins outside won't tar and fether him.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ...unless you will personally guarantee that the hoard of torch and pitchfork wielding penguins outside won't tar and fether him.

        You just don't understand how open source works, do you? If for some reason the Slashdot penguin horde promises to stop tarring and feathering Windows users, I'll just fork the project and start my own horde!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by artifex2004 ( 766107 )
        I spoke to the /. community's resident Windows user and he is refusing to come out his closet unless you will personally guarantee that the hoard of torch and pitchfork wielding penguins outside won't tar and fether him.

        fether? Is that a new compression algorithm I missed?

        • Kind of. You see, once you label him as a Windows user with the feathers, half an hour later what's left of him will be so small that you could transport or store it in a tiny fraction of the space originally required. Rumour has it that the algorithm is somewhat lossy, however.

    • Re:Make a list (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mark-Allen ( 578402 ) <`moc.kooltuo' `ta' `yrrep-nella-kram'> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @10:15PM (#17273500)
      I am currently running my new Compaq laptop (nx6325) with Vista RTM 64-Bit. Installed in 20 minutes, and found all hardware. It has a Dual-Core 2GHz Athalon and runs pretty good. But the base 1GB is not sufficient so I immediately ordered another 1GB for CHF 220.00 (about USD 183.00). The 2GB modules are still over CHF 1,000.00 so I'll wait for now.

      The default apps and such defaulted to the 32-bit versions, so I had to make some changes to the paths but after that all works well. It has been running non-stop for over 7 days, without a single problem. Actually, I haven't rebooted it at all after the installation, so I haven't much experience. This evening I ran through Windows Update and it updated a few things, but didn't require a reboot which was surprising.

      The speed isn't bad for a 64-bit system but Vista is ram-hungry, so I won't be able to see much improvement until I add the extra memory.

      In the future, I will not buy anymore new 32-bit systems, only 64-bit. I will, however, continue to check out vintage 32-bit systems for a good price, if necessary. At Christmas, Santa Clause is bringing me 2 DL-360s, which he only paid Euro 250.00 each. I'll use these for W2K3, and all the server-related apps.

      But the future is 64-bit and so far, so good.

      Just my 2 centimes,

      • Re:Make a list (Score:5, Informative)

        by Phil John ( 576633 ) <phil@webstars[ ].com ['ltd' in gap]> on Sunday December 17, 2006 @07:15AM (#17276164)

        Vista is more RAM hungry than XP, but not by a vast amount.

        If you see that you have very little free memory, this is probably because Vista has a completely new memory management system that learns the apps you most often use and pre-loads them into RAM to speed things up. As soon as you actually need any of that memory it starts unloading things.

        Granted, 1 gig won't really cut it if you're using Visual Studio or SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition (that's why I'm still on XP - plus I'm waiting on SP2 for SQL Server for Vista Compat), but for most tasks and gaming 1 gig will still be ample.

    • Perhaps a more interesting question would be whether the Windows-users in the Slashdot community plan to run 64-bit Vista, considering its enhanced security (PatchGuard et al.) as well as its enhanced possibilities of restricting you from doing things on your own computer.

      Maybe, if the drivers ever come up to snuff in the first place. I do have a 64-bit CPU in my laptop that, at the moment, is just doing 32-bit jumping jacks.

      (And as I do not intend to buy music with MS's DRM, I really don't see what you th
  • Why would I? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:26PM (#17272258)
    This is kind of a dumb question. If you need the processing power, then switch. If not, then don't.

    I have no need for 64 bit processing in my business (retail and web). Computer upgrades have to be worth it, from a financial standpoint. There's no reason for my business to spend any money on 64 bit processors.
    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:02PM (#17272554)

      All the new processors from AMD and Intel (and IBM, for that matter) are 64-bit. Therefore, if you get a new PC, you have no choice but to get a 64-bit processor in it. And since they're all backwards-compatible to 32-bit, there's no downside.

      The only relevant issue here is whether you want to run 64-bit or 32-bit software on it.

      • by gutnor ( 872759 )
        Unfortunatly there is still a lot of Intel Core Duo and Core Solo on the laptop market. And especially the Core Duo is still a solid offering even in higher-range laptop.

        Some brand updated the Core Duo to Core 2 Duo for 'free', but for most, it is still a premium that is not worth it (10% more perf 30% more $). Especially right now before the release of Vista, when you have the choice between a beter graphic card or a marginally beter CPU.

        But as you said, probably second quarter next year, that would be a n
        • by MojoStan ( 776183 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @10:12PM (#17273484)
          Also, Intel's current entry-level notebook CPU, the Yonah-based Celeron M [intel.com], is still 32-bit and won't be upgraded to the 64-bit Merom core until Q1 2007 [dailytech.com]. This is the CPU you'll likely find in many sub-$600 notebooks and has more than enough performance for most users, IMO. I thought Apple should have used it in a sub-$500 Mac mini (it can use the mini's chipset).

          So for this significant portion of the notebook market, I think the transition to 64-bit will probably stretch out past Q2 2007. It might go quicker than most, however, because Merom uses the same chipset as Yonah.

          • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:55PM (#17288844)
            This is one of those areas where I feel that AMD was about 2 (3?) years ahead of Intel.

            They came out with a 64bit CPU that, unlike Itanium, performed just as fast on 32bit tasks as the predecessor. Which meant that buying AMD 64bit chips was a no-risk decision. You could get a 64bit chip (future-proof) but without sacrificing performance on existing 32bit workloads. I don't know if it was an engineering or marketing decision, but it was an important one.

            Imagine a world where Intel's Core 2 was the first 64bit chip for x86. It would've pushed the move to 64bit back to 2010 instead of possibly happening as soon as 2007.

            (Not sure when the 64bit Xeon CPUs first hit the market. We've been buying all Opteron systems.)

    • Re:Why would I? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fry-kun ( 619632 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:10PM (#17272624)
      Your processing power won't improve at all by switching to x64. The only improvement is that you will be able to address more RAM and HD space, nothing else.
      In fact, you will even lose out - 64 bit systems waste more memory than 32 bit systems. That's primarily because the 32-bit structures take up 64 bits on 64 bit system, while not carrying any more data. And all the pointers are suddenly 64 bit in length, etc.
      In other words, it's worth switching only if you have and plan to use a reasonably larger amount of RAM/HD space than the 32 bit max limit. (in other words, if you want to switch to use 5gb, i'd recommend sticking with 32 bit system, but for 6gb or 8gb the pros start outweighing the cons)

      • Re:Why would I? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WalksOnDirt ( 704461 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:25PM (#17272756)
        Most programs run at about the same speed, but some programs gain a lot from running in 64 bit mode.

        One example is that bit-board chess engines, including the current top engine Rybka, are much faster. Non bit-board engines gain little or are slower (The extra registers! They do nothing! Or at least not enough to do more than make up for the code bloat).

        Large number arithmetic (e.g. encryption) gains even more because one 64 bit multiply does more that twice the work of a 32 bit multiply.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's primarily because the 32-bit structures take up 64 bits on 64 bit system, while not carrying any more data.

        I can't speak for x86-64 because I've never seen it, but I've played around with 64-bit PowerPC, and that's really not true. Or not necessarily, anyway. Note that in 64-bit PowerPC, there are no "modes"; all registers are 64 bits in width. However, that doesn't stop 32-bit code from running unmodified.

        Basically what it comes down to is: it's not the size of your register; it's the size of

      • That's true for Sparc64. Not so much for amd64.

        Doubling the number of general purpose registers is nothing to scoff at. Software that takes advantage of that can easily get a noticeable performance jump. Further, the only thing that should reliably be taking up more memory is pointers - x86 & amd64 don't have significant alignment issues like RISC processors, so they can handle short data (i.e. 32 or even 16 bit integers) all day long.

        • by Fry-kun ( 619632 )
          I didn't know that there are twice as many registers in 64bit version. Of course that's only effective for applications compiled to run natively in 64 bit, not 32 bit guest applications... but I see your point.
        • by tricorn ( 199664 )

          If it's that important to save some memory by using 32-bit pointers (and you don't need a 64-bit process address space), then it seems to me it should be pretty easy to compile to code that only uses 32-bit pointers, even with 64-bit code. It shouldn't be hard to mark a process as only having a 32-bit address space so the kernel memory allocation calls don't allocate anything outside of that range (as they'd have to do with 32-bit code anyway). Doesn't GCC support having 64-bit code with 32-bit pointers?

      • Your processing power won't improve at all by switching to x64. The only improvement is that you will be able to address more RAM and HD space, nothing else

        This is not really true. On x86, you get a bunch of extra general purpose registers when you switch to x86-64, making the architecture only very register-starved, as opposed to insanely register-starved. If you are running Lisp code, for example, then this can give a huge performance gain, since existing Lisp compilers work far better on architectures with a lot of registers (on SPARC or PowerPC, Lisp code compiled with the Steel Bank Common Lisp compiler tends to out-perform C++ code implementing the sa

    • I'm really happy that most processors are now 64 bit. 64 bit means it's easier to access more RAM. More RAM means I can simulate more neurons and synapses in less time.
  • by Nimey ( 114278 )
    I don't think it's worth it to run XP64 yet unless you have a needed 64-bit app. Driver support still isn't great, mainly.
  • Whatever the proper name of it, it sucks. There's next to no improvement over standard XP. That being said, Vista is supposed to have massive improvements. I don't know about any of that though, suse, ubuntu, debian, gentoo, pretty much all the regular distros you hear of have a 64-bit variant and most if not all work well. The beauty of the current 64-bit processors though is you can always run 32-bit code as well. So why not get a 64-bit proc?
  • Using Gmail and flash can be interesting for a 64-bit Linux distro - Mozilla just crashes. I don't know if there is a better fix for this but that is because what I have been doing has Just Worked(TM) since I figured it out, and it was the only way to do it back then. I dug and dug and found that forcing 32-bit flash to run in a 32-bit browser on a 64-bit platform was the way to go.

    Here is my posted solution on LinuxForums [linuxforums.org], in case anyone has had the Mozilla-Gmail-flash problem... but I expect that th
    • by Dadoo ( 899435 )
      Using Gmail and flash can be interesting for a 64-bit Linux distro - Mozilla just crashes.

      I'm running SuSE 10.0 on my HP Athlon 64 laptop and, surprisingly, I don't have that problem. I just installed Flash - 9.0 beta, no less - and it just worked.

      Flash 9 is a big step up from Flash 7, too. For instance, on version 7, it was rare for the audio to be in sync with the video. That works perfectly in version 9.
    • by VValdo ( 10446 )
      Using Gmail and flash can be interesting for a 64-bit Linux distro - Mozilla just crashes

      in 64-bit Gentoo, try this:

      emerge mozilla-firefox
      emerge netscape-flash
      emerge nspluginwrapper

      That should let you use the 32-bit flash in 64-bit firefox.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sporkme ( 983186 ) *
      I am glad that flash-32-bit has been working in many Linux-64-BIT distros. This is a testament to the spirit of the hard-working folks behind our favorite flavors of the best OS. This does not excuse the dragging of feet on the part of Adobe. There needs to be a central release and some code for the aforementioned hard working people. RELEASE A LINUX-64-BIT VERSION OF FLASH NOW, you brown-nosed bastards. How can we make this any more clear?
  • switched already (Score:3, Informative)

    by Keruo ( 771880 ) * on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:36PM (#17272354)
    I switched all my boxes to 64bit at spring.
    Only 32-bit systems left are my laptops and I'm not in hurry to replace those.
    After selling the old components, I was left to pay $50-100 per system for the upgrade.

    As for XP-64, don't bother, its utter crap. No drivers whatsoever, and the ones you can find are buggy as hell.
    If you want 64bit win, you'll have to wait for vista.

    For linux, I'd recommend gentoo, but if you're unsure and don't want to compile the entire system, suse or ubuntu works aswell.

  • Not right now (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hexedian ( 626557 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:37PM (#17272362) Homepage
    If you're building boxes for friends or customers, you'll want to consider the fact that Macromedia has not released a 64-bits version of Flash player, meaning users have to use a 32-bits browser to see flash animations. You don't start appreciating having flash around until you load the latest YouTube movie.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You don't start appreciating having flash around until you load the latest YouTube movie.

      Why? Did VideoDL [videodl.org] start requiring flash?
  • I bought a Turion AMD 64 a few months ago. I installed Ubuntu 64bit onto it, and then learned that there is less software out there, and that route is not for Linux noobs like I am. So I installed 32 bit instead.

    Thank goodness for Automatix for Ubuntu.
    • I just bought a Turion AMD64 laptop a couple of weeks ago. I'm dual-booting 64-bit OpenSuSE 10.2 and Windows XP Pro 64. Only problem has been with wireless. (Thank you, Acer, for including a wireless card for which there are apparently no 64-bit drivers.)

      Wireless with Win64 was solved with a Gigabyte GN-WB01GS USB dongle. The 64-bit driver's on the CD, which won't autorun and complains that "this CD is for a different format than what your computer uses" or some such garbage. Open it in Windows Explorer, na
  • Linux has supported x86-64 for years now. The recent versions of Fedora and other distributions have perfectly usable 64-bit versions. The few remaining bits and pieces like OpenOffice have been fixed. (If you run proprietary software such as the Flash player it may be a different story.)

    In any case what sort of question is this? Should you buy a recent processor like the Athlon 64s AMD have been selling for ages, or the Intel chips on the market for almost as long? Well, yes of course. What half-dece
    • What half-decent i386-compatible processor sold these days doesn't support the 64-bit mode?

      Core Duo and Core Solo.

  • I've been running 64-bit linux on my very low power amd64 system (idles in the 30 C's :D) for about a year and a half now. Linux has pretty much been flawless for a while since AMD has been working to get support ready since before it ever came out. The biggest problem in open source was doing pointer math using ints. In terms of closed source software flash needs 32-bit emulation, java64 runs fine but there's no firefox plugin (why!?!?). And of course the win32 codecs are all win32 :P But I've gotten all t
  • I wouldn't recommend a 32-bit processor for server use anymore. Linux support for 64-bit processors is as good as any other platform these days. The only caveat is that it's difficult to find pre-built binaries for Itanium2 anywhere.

    Not so sure about the desktop. My desktop needs are pretty basic, so I haven't thought about 64-bit for that kind of use yet.
  • by LordMyren ( 15499 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:42PM (#17272392) Homepage
    x86-64's main use is its address space. 32 bits places a 4 million word limitation on your addressing. systems like zfs that are heavily heavily transactional end up addressing a lot more objects than this. once you've breeched your 32bit addressing, the performance of native 64 bit addressing v. some kind of page extension mode is night and day. zfs's _need_ for x86-64 stems from this; it'll run on an "old" athlon, but in 64bit mode it flies.

    my personal belief is that the future, the nebulous area Stroustroupe outlines as "better concurrency," is really going to be implemented at a platform level as this kind of deeply nested transactional data structuring, where instead of overwriting your object to change its state, you simply append the new state in a new part of memory. thus each object accumulates address space (referentiability) as it changes across time. i'll leave the full details implementation & ramifications of Copy on Update up to the user for now.

    otoh, a lot of science people want double floats and 64 bit words, but look at the big boys, nvidia. it may bite them in the @#$@# someday, but for now they're sticking to a strong party line: 32bit floating point is sufficient. this works alright for video cards & games, since 4 channels of 32bit fp is an 128bit fp buffer. thats large, but still not entirely that accurate. i'd like to see a time when even game worlds are so massive they straight up require 64bit fp. i'd like to see nvidia release consumer cards with 64bit float performance sometime soon, but i dont think the odds of that happening are very big: its new technology with only a couple scientifc users making any use of it. just as it took the boys at Epic, Sweeny & CliffyB both stating the xbox needed more video ram, without vocal powreful demand we probably wont see it for a while.

    hopefully we'll be doing more distributed dispatching with gpus in the future. 64 bit ints are going to be required there.

    by 2012 -- the end of time
    • it may bite them in the @#$@# someday

      This is the Internet. You're allowed to say "ass".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jlarocco ( 851450 )

      x86-64's main use is its address space. 32 bits places a 4 million word limitation on your addressing.

      That's not entirely true. The new 64 bit extensions also added 8 new registers. That doesn't necessarily speed up most apps, but they do allow for more function parameters to be passed in registers. Theoretically it could reduce the number of memory accesses required, too.

      otoh, a lot of science people want double floats and 64 bit words, but look at the big boys, nvidia. it may bite them in the @#

      • the positional data is key. there's enough sig figs with a 64bit float that even if you are truncating a lot of the absolute positional data there's still enough sig figs remaining to keep accuracy.

        furthermore, to say that 32bit fp per component rendered down to 32 bit color (24 bit actually, my monitor doesnt do alpha) is excessive is an egrigious lie. the 128bit wide drawing buffer contains far more information than the screen can display, yes, but the graphics card generates some kind of mapping that m
        • 32bit integer color granularity is massively degrading: if you're in extreme darkness, visually discerning the difference between #000200020003 and #000300030004 is really hard. to make the difference noticable, the system might attempt to scale the color differences, quadruple the luminocity. in 32bit integer, we get #00080008000c and #000c000c0010, but nothing in between.

          So what you're saying here is that either your eyeball or your monitor can't discern the difference between x and x+1, so in fact 24 bit

  • I built an Athlon64 machine a while back and put Debian Etch on it, and it's awesome.

    You have to use the testing or unstable branches to get AMD64 support until the 4.0 release, but testing (Etch) has been working perfectly for me. With very little work, I've even been able to get the few 32-bit apps I need to work. Without a chroot I have Opera (with Flash), the 32-bit proprietary video codecs, and a few others working perfectly.

    The only "gotcha" I can think of is that the nVidia kernel module isn

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      I built an Athlon64 machine a while back and put Debian Etch on it, and it's awesome. You have to use the testing or unstable branches to get AMD64 support until the 4.0 release, but testing (Etch) has been working perfectly for me.

      Debian Sarge for x86_64 is perfectly well supported; you don't have to run testing/unstable.

      With very little work, I've even been able to get the few 32-bit apps I need to work. Without a chroot I have Opera (with Flash), the 32-bit proprietary video codecs, and a few others

  • 64-bit is good for the Linux server market ... not looking so good for the desktop. You can get an Opteron-powered box for a decent price, all the big distros will support it, and you can usually run some sort of "32-bit compatibility layer" in case you've got some precompiled stuff you need to have work. A few years ago, I was having some problems getting certain programs to work with 64-bit support (Swish-E, specifically) but everything seems to be better now. So you can go ahead and add the 8 gigabytes o
  • First of all, I prefer AMD processors myself, though I prefer to believe that I am not an unthinking fanboy. AMD does not make any non-64-bit processors anymore, so that makes the choice easy :-)

    64-bit support under Linux is YEARS ahead of where it is under Windows! With Ubuntu Linux, 64-bit support "just works." I downloaded the x86_64 Install CD and burnt it, and everything installed flawlessly. Basically every single open source package compiles correctly in 64-bit mode, from the kernel to all the dr
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:55PM (#17272502)
    cos I always want to have that extra bit from my machines.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Timesprout: "You see, most blokes will be coding with sixty-four bit registers. You're on sixty-four, all the way up, all the way up...Where can you go from there? Nowhere. What we do, is if we need that extra push over the cliff...sixty-five. One bigger."

      DiBergi: "Why don't you just write a integer maths library that can virtualize any size you define, and make that a little bigger?"

      Timesprout: (baffled) "This goes up to sixty-five."

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @07:59PM (#17272532) Homepage Journal
    ..but I'm wondering if it worth it to run a box on XP-64?

    If you're even considering Windows, then that suggests you have some kind of heavy legacy requirements. Those legacy applications are what matters; check to see if they have been re-compiled. That's how you'll decide which way to go. If your legacy is ready for 64 bits, then maybe you are too. If your legacy isn't ready, then what's the point?

  • Nothing I use my machines for would realy benefit from 64-bit processing. I don't use that much memory, and the heaviest CPU load comes from Nero trans-coding AVI files and CIV4.

    I'll probably move up to 64, when you guys start talking about 128!
  • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:14PM (#17272666) Homepage Journal
    Win64 is a piece of cake, for the most part. I picked up an NForce4 AMD64 board about a year and a half ago - they had drivers for all of the on board kit (Ethernet, usb, sound, firewire) and NVidia had drivers for the video cards I had as well. As a server or workstation (lines get fuzzy on a dev box), I had very little problems with finding drivers for even the SCSI kit I added into the mix. I also had 4x1G RAM, which Win64 picked up. I ended up going with Win2003-64 and Win2003-32 (with limited access to all 4G, closer to 3.5G with switches, etc) for the Windows environments as it had better support than WinXP-64. 3rd party hardware stuff may be iffy... scanner/printers seem to get forgotten.

    64-bit Gentoo and SuSE both worked like a charm too - but you asked about Windows. Nice to have multiple HDD chassis. (grin)

    The thing that you might have problems with were programs. I found that the 'default' install path for the 32-bit stuff would cause some of my programs to trip up. Things like the 32-bit DVD/CD burning software and a few other programs. But anyhow - should you go with a 64-bit CPU? Yes. Win64 is probably more trouble than it is worth for 'generic' gaming rig today. As Vista goes into mainstream, those using a 32-bit processor will be the odd man out.
  • What doesn't work... (Score:3, Informative)

    by straponego ( 521991 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:16PM (#17272674)
    In my experience, both in Windows and Linux, what doesn't work is almost always non-free software. Flash, Java, LOTS of Windows drivers (like cpu monitoring/throttling stuff, etc), and Windows games are examples. There are workarounds for some of these, and some of them will eventually be patched. But it's a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: open source stuff will be updated much faster than commercial.

    You can get by pretty well with 64 bit Linux. I see no compelling reason to run 64 bit Windows yet, unless you need lots of memory. Yeah, you could get a small boost from having more registers, and yeah, it's cool; but the Windows world is just not used to porting to other architectures :). The CPUs have been out, what, 3 years? And it is still a royal pain. And if you game... get used to things like Neverwinter Nights 2 going through the entire 6 cd install, only to tell you "Oh, by the way, 64 bit doesn't work. Ha-ha!"

  • by Soong ( 7225 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:18PM (#17272698) Homepage Journal
    I'm not exactly sure what confluence of compiler, instruction set and silicon technology is going on, but on one test I found that compiling a float-intensive compute problem I run the EM64T (x86-64) version was faster. This is on my new MacBook Pro, Core 2 Duo with GCC 4.
  • Wrong Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:24PM (#17272748)
    You're asking the wrong question. Of course you should buy a 64 bit system if you're building a new system, unless you have a specific need for a 32 bit system and plan on replacing it within the year. Ther real questions are: Do I want dual core chips (and the really slick hardware virtualization that comes with the dual core chips)? Do I want Intel or AMD? (I'm a long time AMD fan but the Intel dual core chips are getting better buzz than the AMD dual core chips, although you may want to price out the whole systems, not just the CPUs, to get a real idea. And, have other have mentoned here, do I want to run a 64 bit OS or a 32 bit OS? Even with a 32 bit OS you can switch to 64 later (at no cost if you use Linux) as long as you started with a 64 bit CPU.
  • 64 bit is just one of the improvements. CPUs have also gotten faster. It's a package deal, although the two are not necessarily related.

    Even if you don't run an OS or software to utilize the 64-bit aspect of the CPU, all the current faster chips are 64-bit. Consider the 64-bit aspect as a bit of future proofing your new, fast machine. Go for SATA-2, PCI-E, and dual core, and you're set for a while.
  • Windows XP-64 bit works fine for me. It seems alot more stable in many ways than the 32 bit xp. It definately starts up faster. I haven't had any driver issues, but I use obscure hardware by companies named NVidia and HP. I would check if you have anything strange.
    On occasion I have run into programs that acted up because I was in 64, but there are usually alternatives.

    In Linux I have had 0 problems using Ubuntu. The packages are all built for my AMD64. There are occasional issues in terms of things like Fl
  • The kernel and packages have had 64-bit support for years. I have run Linux, WinNT, and BSD on a DEC-Alpha processor, no trouble.
  • In my business, we're completely 32-bit right now, and we will stay the same for a while. We've decided to stay with 32-bit XP until there are compelling reasons to move to 64-bit, at which point we'll go 64-bit Vista.

    On the server side we'll go 64-bit when the apps demand it (Exchange 2007 for instance).

  • XP64 never reached critical driver support. I do high end GIS at work and thought XP64 would be great for a workstation......wrong. I can't find drivers for many of the printers on the network and my scanner does not work. Also many of the software developers for don't support XP64 so if you have a problem they'll blame it on XP64 noteably Autodesk with their latest bug ridden Autocad Map program. Also during the Vista beta program I had nothing but trouble with Creative products using Vista 64. All pr
    • I agree. I upgraded a Win98 system and planned to go to XP and I figured I'd update my motherboard to an Athlon while I was at it. XP64 pro was cheaper than regular XP Pro, so I opted for that. I didn't realize I'd get into a huge scavenger hunt to make sure all the drivers and software would work. And I did this late in the game. There does not appear to be that many vendors supporting XP64 as you'd think.
  • by LauraW ( 662560 )

    The new PC I built a home a couple of months ago had a Core 2 Duo in it, so it's 64-bit by definition. It's still running the 32-bit version of XP, though. I only put 2 Gb of RAM in it, so there didn't seem to be much point in installing XP-64. (I'm tempted to install Ubuntu on it instead, but I still use Photoshop and Quicken and a few other Windows-only apps occasionally.)

    At work, I use a workstation with a 64-bit processor and 4 Gb of RAM. It's running a 64-bit Linux kernel but most apps run in a

  • XP-64 (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcbridematt ( 544099 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:42PM (#17273264) Homepage Journal
    XP 64 is a workstation OS (and has always been marketed that way by Microsoft, FYI). Unless you're doing heavy stuff, or your hardware loves it (i.e Dual Opterons with NUMA), stay out. You can chuck all your older hardware while you're at it too. Personally I haven't had any real problems with it, apart from it being a massive I/O hog.

    XP 64 is based on the WinServer 2003 x64 base, and IMO, Server 2003 x64 makes a better 64 bit workstation OS. I guess M$ frucked up big time when adding all the consumer end stuff to it. Pity 2003 x64 doesn't have the full multimedia support that its 32 bit version does.

  • No issues here.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pluhveso ( 1026052 )
    I am currently running Windows XP Professional x64 with 64-bit processor types nearly since its release.

    The only potential hiccup I encountered was finding an x64 driver for my HP printer; but there is a nice group that came out with drivers that while they claim aren't perfect, I have never had any problems with (both printing and scanning).

    If you've ever low-level coded for x64 it can be slightly more painful or new; but its definitely worth it in the end (as well as multi-core).
  • About a year and a half ago I bought an AMD 64 laptop. I dualboot 64bit Fedora and 32 bit XP (came preinstalled, hardly ever use it).

    The only (minor) problems I've had is that there is no 64 bit version of the Java plugin, and there is no 64 version of Flash player, therefore I run a 32 bit version of Firefox with the 32 bit version of the Java plugin and Flash player.

    I'm still on FC 5, which includes a 32 bit version of OpenOffice.org, runs just fine (I heard that FC 6 includes a 64 bit version of OO.o).
  • Ubuntu x64 here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:54PM (#17273362)

    Add me to the tally of folks running 64 bit Linux. For most purposes, the performance boost is unnoticable. However, I do get a few more FPS when transcoding video and I've noticed no other difficulties compared to 32bit Ubuntu. As others, I run 32 bit Firefox, but this is a breeze to install via automatix. About the only things that don't work for me are Google Earth and RealPlayer. I haven't bothered to look for others having similar troubles with Google Earth (app loads just fine, but imagery is all scrambled) and I don't care that much that RealPlayer barely runs (skips, audio out of sync, hangs inexplicably . . . but it did that on 32bits too).

    As far as general day to day use goes, if you've got a 64 bit proc w/ a 32 bit OS, it's probably not worth the hassle to reinstall 64 bit builds. If you're starting over from scratch anyway, you might want to give it a shot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SLi ( 132609 )
      I have been using Debian-amd64 for bit over a year now. In my benchmarks, the 64-bitness definitely helps performance; e.g. LAME (the mp3 encoder) is 50 % faster when compiled for amd64 than the x86 version.

      I'm running Debian unstable, and I think things break a bit more often for 64-bit architectures than 32-bit. For example, recently apt-get source broke on 64-bit architectures. I think there are enough people however running 64-bit Debian to ensure no such flaws ever get to testing or stable. If you don'
  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <<stephen_samuel> <at> <bcgreen.com>> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @10:09PM (#17273472) Homepage Journal
    From what I've seen people using Windows-64 have had far more problems than people running Linux. Linux 64 bit support has been out for a long time now and is pretty stable.

    XP-64 seems to have all sorts of driver problems that are unlikely to go away as Vista comes out.

    Vista-64 has the problem that you've got the uncertain future of a heavily DRMed machine. This may or may not prove to be a show-stopper, so I'd say wait and see..

  • Are you building these machines for clients. Unless some specifically ask for XP-64 I wouldn't install it. Personally dispite all compatibility claims I've run across a lot of software that won't install correctly on XP-64 for no good reason. (Apparently the "reason" is that installers are often written in 16 bit, but I've even come across recently made applications whos installers will tell me they won't install on XP-64 and give me no way around).
  • I've been running Vista since Beta 2 and decided to hold my breath and try the 64-bit version when the RTM was released to MSDN a month or so ago. So far, much to my surprise, it's been rock solid. it worked with every piece of hardware I have, including a Dell dual-tuner TV card, a no-name Web cam, a couple of digital cameras, and my ATI X1300 video card. No software problems to speak of either - the only thing I can think of that didn't work right off the bat is the MS SyncToy application.

    I can't speak
  • by wolrahnaes ( 632574 ) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Sunday December 17, 2006 @12:05AM (#17274216) Homepage Journal
    The hardware is ready. As others have mentioned, it's basically impossible now to buy a 32 bit desktop (the only one I know of still for sale is the Mac Mini) and the laptops will follow as soon as Intel phases out the original Core line.

    Personally I've been 100% 64 bit on the hardware side for a while now. Athlon 64 X2 in my desktop, Core 2 Duo in my laptop, and even a triple-core 64 bit "Xenon" PowerPC derivative in my game console (though I recently sold that for a Wii, I'm not sure whether "Broadway" is 64 bit or not).

    Software, it's a different story. I'd have no problem running a 64 bit OS on a server or workstation where I can be certain it'll be doing a set group of tasks, but on the desktop no way.

    On both Windows and Linux, drivers are the biggest issue. Linux obviously less than Windows, because all but my video drivers are open source and many were 64 bit ready before AMD ever shipped a single Opteron, but the user-level 64 bit support is less. On Windows, it was mainly driver issues and a few games that balked at the NT 5.2 (Win2003) kernel under XP64. On Linux, the biggest problem was related to plugins and codecs. I didn't have Flash or Java in my web browser and a lot of codecs either weren't there or required building from source which I prefer not to do if I have a choice. I know I could have installed 32 bit Firefox and the 32 bit plugins would have worked, but just like with the codecs it was more work than I was willing to put in to it.

    In both cases 64 bit gained me nothing other than being able to say I'm running in 64 bit mode while causing quite a bit of extra work. The tradeoff wasn't worth it, so I went back.

    Depending on how things develop, I might try 64 bit Vista a few months after the official release, and of course Leopard will bring my Macbook a fully 64 bit OS, but for now I'm happy with 32 bit Vista on the desktop, 32 bit Tiger on the laptop, and 32 bit Ubuntu on both.
  • 64 bit - drivers (Score:3, Informative)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @12:13AM (#17274252)
    About two months ago I installed XP-64 on a new Athlon system I was upgrading. I didn't realize that I'd have to update all my drivers and some software might not work, but the biggest problem was the drivers, however, I custom-built this PC and used popular components so, with the exception of AVG Free (which doesn't have a 64-bit version), I was able to upgrade my entire system. If you're running more obscure peripherals, you should fully-research the availability of drivers before you upgrade.
  • I've already had dual 64 bit chips in my Macs for the last couple of years.
  • ... just not Windows :D

    Lets see, can anyone say Sparc and RISC? Anyway, if you mean x86_64, then, yes, you pretty much will be purchasing a 64bit capabile processor, as all but the mobile lines are now x86_64 from both Intel and AMD. However, as you have noted, Windows XP-64 is another issue. MS decided that they were going to test out some of their lockdown controls for drivers and hardware, basically a test run for when they release Vista so they could work out some of the more nasty "features" *cough*
  • The machine I am typing on is AMD64, but I wouldn't think of XP64 (although you can download the image unlike xp32). when I boot into linux i have lots of application problems because no one supports it yet.

    Just forward planning. For a serious server application, of course. But for a real workstation, you are going to have all kinds of problems for a while.. xp and linux.

    "People get ready"... for a while probably.

    ok shit. Believe it.
  • I've been using 64-bit CPUs for years, running NetBSD on a Sun Ultra 5. However, I can't say it holds any great advantages or disadvantages for me. That's just the CPU that happened to be in it. The open source software I use runs fine on all CPUs I've tried to run it on. The same is definitely not true of Vista - at least, what I've seen from the AMD64 port is that lots of software doesn't work on it, and most drivers don't, either. Perhaps this will be fixed, but I do wonder why it's an issue, given that
  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @05:40AM (#17275772) Homepage
    I have tried both XP-64 and Linux in a 64-bit x86 distro and I can outright say that XP-64 seems to be more a special feature useful for those that really need the use of the 64-bit processing (larger memory available). This especially since the availability of drivers is a problem, but also that it lacks support regarding anti-virus and third-part firewalls. The built-in firewall is in my opinion not good enough.

    On the other hand there is no reason to not use 64-bit Linux on a machine that is capable of 64-bit processing. Very few of the frequently used drivers are 32-bit only. The advantages is not only due to the fact that you are able to access large amount of memory, but you will have less problems with larger files (Above 2GB). If there are any real disadvantages I haven't seen them here.

    If you plan for Vista - I don't see any reason to stick with 32-bit. This since it seems likely that the major focus on Vista development will be on the 64-bit variant. Remember that the recommended minimum RAM is 1GB and new applications are likely to use more RAM so the 4GB barrier present in 32-bit is not too far away.

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