The 64-Bit Question

from the who-needs-it? dept

When it comes to technology, people seem to love numbers, and bigger is always better. That explains part of the reason why AMD has been doing quite well lately with their 64-bit chip. However, Simson Garfinkel explains all of the details about 64-bit (and 32-bit) computing to explain why, unless you're doing some massive data mining or working on specific scientific applications, the only people 64-bit computing (by itself) is really helping out are the marketers who tell you need to buy a 64-bit computer. While there are performance benefits to 64-bit chips, for the most part, the benefits are because the chip is newer and made with better, more modern technology - and don't have anything to do with its 64-bitness.

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  1. identicon
    Nonesuch, 5 Jun 2004 @ 1:17am

    Sun Microystems went through this years ago

    Sun launched the 64-bit UltraSparc processor line almost exactly ten years ago. Initially there was no 64-bit Solaris. With Solaris 8 many sites began to experiment with running in 64-bit mode, unless they needed a driver that was only available as a 32-bit binary.

    The average userland application compiled for 32-bits runs fine under Solaris Sparc 64, if just a bit slowly.

    About three years ago, Sun ago started to ship "64-bit only" UltraSparc III platforms; newer systems such as the 280R and V480 offered 900Mhz and 1.1Ghz CPUs, and could address significantly more than four gigs of RAM, but would only boot 64 bit Solaris 8/9.

    For most Solaris shops, the processors have been 64-bit capable for many years, but the driving factor behind using the capability wasn't about perceived or actual performance gains, but rather that the latest, fastest, and most scalable Sun hardware would no longer boot 32-bit kernels, could no longer interoperate with 32-bit device drivers.


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