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Microsoft Windows Technology

Half of Windows 7 Machines Running 64-Bit Version 401

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the way-better-than-my-one-bit-idea dept.
nk497 writes "Microsoft has said that nearly half of machines running Windows 7 are using the 64-bit version, up from just 11% of PCs running Vista. The 32-bit version is limited to 4GB RAM, while the 64-bit version allows 192GB, as well as added security and virtualization capabilities. While Microsoft is pushing 64-bit as a way to gain performance in the OS, it earlier this year advised users to install the 32-bit version of Office 2010, 'because currently many common add-ins for Office will not function in the 64-bit edition.'"
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Half of Windows 7 Machines Running 64-Bit Version

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  • by mstefan (635858) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:27AM (#32875534)
    The reality is though that 10% of Windows systems are 64-bit (there's actually still more systems running Vista than Windows 7 out there, although the gap is shrinking). The vast majority of Windows desktops are still running the 32-bit version of Windows XP, and that's not going to change until businesses decide they have a compelling reason to upgrade.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#32875608) Journal

      The vast majority of Windows desktops are still running the 32-bit version of Windows XP, and that's not going to change until businesses decide they have a compelling reason to upgrade.

      And my guess is that'll happen when they stop supporting XP P3 - which if my memory serves correct is 2014? Can someone back me up on that?

      64 bit isn't too far off. As a developer you'd be better off getting a copy soon and work on merging your projects over to work on 64 bit now, rather than wait for crunch time.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        And I'm running XP-64, so if you love XP and want 64 the possibility exists.

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          What's the driver situation like on XP-64 these days? Do you get security updates at about the same time as your 32 bit brethren? I remember in ~2004 when my buddy got XP he had to downgrade to 32 bit due to driver avalibility issues but I'm sure a lot has changed in six years.

          I recently upgraded from XP-32 to Win7-64 and was amazed that everything I own had recent and fully functional 64 bit drivers... except my netgear brand wifi card, which is 64 bit supported, unless you have more than 3.5GB of [nearlydeaf.com]

      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:01PM (#32875904)

        64 bit isn't too far off. As a developer you'd be better off getting a copy soon and work on merging your projects over to work on 64 bit now, rather than wait for crunch time.

        Pro-active developers ? You've got to be kidding. It took the "annoyance" of Vista's UAC before developers finally started changing their Windows applications not to needlessly require admin privileges. They're not going to be implementing 64-bit support one second before "crunch time" arrived.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 12, 2010 @01:01PM (#32876676)

          It truly amazes me how lazy developers are when it comes to supporting new things. They whine and bitch and drag their feet and blame MS, rather than just admitting they have to learn something new and doing it.

          For example back in the Windows 2000 days I had a professional sound card. It had Windows NT drivers, but had some limits since NT wasn't good at sound. 98 was the preferred OS. Well when 2000 came out, the refused to release 2000 drivers. They claimed that the kernel mixer introduces 30ms of delay that you couldn't get around and that was unacceptable for pro work, etc, etc. Just use the NT drivers even though that caused some problems.

          I (and probably many others) found the MSDN page on kernel streaming and sent it to them, showing them they were full of shit. Finally, many months later, they released a WDM driver... That supported only 2 of the interfaces 10 inputs and outputs. They claimed that WDM could only support one stereo set, that's it. A built in limitation by MS, nothing you can do about it. In frustration I e-mailed MS and I think they were sufficiently surprised by the stupidity of the statement that a developer actually responded and showed me where to find the docs. Turns out that WDM support lots of audio devices, either enumerated as multiple stereo pairs (as old style drivers did) or as a single multi-channel output. in fact you could do both at once.

          So that went off to them and they ignored it for a long time and finally got out a real, full, WDM driver that was buggy as shit. The proceeded to work on the bugs and eventually had a nice driver. They decided they really liked WDM at that point, and quickly stopped supporting the older formats. It went from "We can't do it," to "This is the only way to do it.

          But it took like a year and a half.

          Many, perhaps most, developers are extremely, EXTREMELY lazy at updating to new technologies and fixing up their code. They want to keep doing shit the same way they always have, no matter how outdated that is.

          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:17PM (#32879112)

            It truly amazes me how little the average person understands about economics.

            A business exists to make money. A company doesn't sell a sound card out the kindness of their heart, and they don't write drivers for said sound card out of the kindness of their heart either. They can't survive if they do. If being pro-active does not generate more income than it costs, then it is economic suicide to be pro-active.

            It's called return on investment, and any halfway decent developer is going to do at least a rudimentary ROI analysis before beginning even a small upgrade, let alone a complete overhaul of their code.

            Basically what you are asking developers to do is exactly the same as your boss telling you you need to work evenings and weekends for no pay. You'll do it if it means losing your job, but otherwise you'll tell your boss to either pay you for it or fuck off. Getting an updated driver is no different. If it's free, expect it to take a while - they'll have to spread the cost over a long period of time to make the investment feasible. If it means losing customers because they didn't write the driver, well then you'll get it pretty quickly.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by boxwood (1742976)

              I'd say you're the one who doesn't understand economics.

              You seem to think its only businesses that do ROI calculations. Consumers do ROI calculations too, you know.

              If I bought a product from a company that doesn't give me support, I'm going to consider future purchases from that company to be a bad ROI. In fact I may even come to the conclusion that pretty much all of the corporations won't support their products. So I'll just assume that all products have no warranty and buy the cheapest stuff I can. Which

      • by ultranova (717540)

        64 bit isn't too far off. As a developer you'd be better off getting a copy soon and work on merging your projects over to work on 64 bit now, rather than wait for crunch time.

        Every 32-bit program I've tried to run on 64-bit Win7 have worked perfectly. Some have even benefited, since a 32-bit program in 64-bit Windows can use the entire 4GB virtual memory space for itself, assuming that the correct executive headers are set. And of course having more physical memory makes multitasking easier and allows for

      • by adonoman (624929)
        For the most part, there's very little reason to port apps over to 64-bit. As the OS level, it's great, allows more memory, and allows you to run 64-bit apps. But at the app level, unless your app can make use of the expanded address space, it's not really that useful to port. The few apps that can really take advantage of it were ported long ago.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dbIII (701233)

        64 bit isn't too far off

        That's true, November 1998 will be here so soon that it's as if it's already happened!

    • by alta (1263) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:54AM (#32875844) Homepage Journal

      And considering so many companies are moving towards web based interfaces for their internal applications, this is going to take a long time. Sure, MS can stop making IE for XP, but get SP3 on the machines and it's pretty damn secure. Add to that Chrome or FF to run the business applications and you have a machine that's going to last for many years to come. Want to go faster? Get faster/more servers! XP can essentially become a dumb terminal as for as those enterprises are concerned. I think that about the only thing they could do is to make new versions of office not run on XP. That'll make a few companies switch because they can't be without outlook+exchange/word/excel.

    • The vast majority of Windows desktops are still running the 32-bit version of Windows XP, and that's not going to change until businesses decide they have a compelling reason to upgrade.

      Ah, you mean in a year or two when the machine is upgraded.

      • Upgraded? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gonoff (88518)
        For a long time, when we get new machines, the first thing we do is upgrade them from Vista to XP. This is likely to continue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mstefan (635858)
        Businesses don't tend to have that short of an upgrade cycle when it comes to operating systems. They typically prefer to stay on the trailing-edge of technology as long as possible -- "if ain't broke, don't fix it" is the mantra of most IT departments, particularly in larger companies. If you look at a lot of the "droneware" business desktops out there today, they're sold with 2-4GB RAM and downgrade rights to XP 32-bit. So while the system may be "sold" with a Win 7 64-bit license, that doesn't mean it's
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Nope, We are at another upgrade cycle here and the desktop folks have already bought machines that will come with Win7 x64 and will be promptly imaged to 32bit XP. Our customers apps require this. Business apps are the last to upgrade, so do not expect those to move until at least 2012.

  • Why, oh why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@p ... t ['ray' in gap]> on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:28AM (#32875554) Homepage Journal
    Is there a good technical reason for 32-bit Windows 7 not supporting more than 4 GB of RAM, period? PAE [wikipedia.org] has been in use for a long time now, and while you can't have a single process that exceeds 3 GB in Linux (tunable, I'm given to understand, can also be a 2 GB per process limit in some installations), you can definitely go past 4 GB of total system memory. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise supports 64 GB per 32-bit system...
    • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by 0racle (667029) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:40AM (#32875686)
      Why enable a workaround when there is a native way to support it? PAE does also technically have a performance impact, your average desktop user isn't exactly going to understand that.
      • As far as performance impacts go, 64-bit systems will use more memory for the same set of running programs than otherwise equivalent 32-bit systems.
      • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thegarbz (1787294) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:37PM (#32879382)
        Desktop user? Why would they care? Also the performance impact is tiny compared to the impact of seeking on the harddisk. The article itself should come with a knowledge disclaimer:

        "Half of the windows 7 Machines Running 64-bit Versions, 90% of users don't even realise"

        The average desktop user doesn't know what defragment is, has 50 apps that load on startup, and think computers naturally get slower over time and simply require replacing.
    • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:41AM (#32875700) Journal

      Is there a good technical reason for 32-bit Windows 7 not supporting more than 4 GB of RAM, period? PAE has been in use for a long time now, and while you can't have a single process that exceeds 3 GB in Linux (tunable, I'm given to understand, can also be a 2 GB per process limit in some installations), you can definitely go past 4 GB of total system memory.

      PAE can break [technet.com] badly written drivers, which are more common on desktop versions of the OS than they are on server versions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664)

        The real issue is market segmentation. The driver issues would not exist if the windows driver space made any damn sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      No, because according to MS, PAE is available for Windows 7 32 bit:

      http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366796(VS.85).aspx [microsoft.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mpfife (655916)
      Well, the first off, PAE only gets you to 64gb of memory. While that should be plenty for most people for the foreseeable future, we all know that setting arbitrary and somewhat lower limits turns you into the most quoted man in history (640k should be enough for everyone....) Also, as I recall, the 64-bit memory manager in Vista was quite a bit different (and faster) than the one in the 32-bit version. Legacy support(?) However, there is more than just addressable memory to consider with a 64-bit opera
    • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:50AM (#32875784)

      For the 64 gig support on a 32 bit machine you often need special servers with chipsets that bank the memory appropriately and special system drivers (Serverworks is/was famous for this) on top of that - its really only something you need to do if you were running Metaframe (I think its called XenApp server?) because most Windows apps won't go past 2 gigs of allocation anyhow.

      My understand is the reason for this is just special hardware/driver support - many consumer motherboards for instance map real world pci resources in the 4 gig address range. Its probably easier on quality assurance to only support what they do on server OS's.

      64 bit system doesn't have any of these limitations and you can address all the memory in one chunk without any work-arounds - hence the wider support for more ram there.

      • by bernywork (57298)

        For the 64 gig support on a 32 bit machine you often need special servers with chipsets that bank the memory appropriately and special system drivers (Serverworks is/was famous for this) on top of that

        Sorta, you could go to 8, 12, 16 or 32 with modern motherboards and available RAM (Well above 4GB) but that doesn't help the situation.

        its really only something you need to do if you were running Metaframe

        *cough* What?!?!? After databases needed the RAM (They brought in PAE with the Pentium Pro) then the next problem was Metaframe. Metaframe was NT4.0 TSE era. Having 20 users login to a system was a great way to burn up RAM on a single host. Metaframe is one of the biggest drivers of 64bit systems as you can now get more users on a box WITHOUT the overhead of virtualisation

    • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:51AM (#32875792) Journal

      PAE adds another layer to the page tables (as does 64-bit addressing), which makes TLB misses more expensive, so you don't want to enable it on systems that don't have more than 4GB of RAM. Given that very few machines ship with more than 4GB of RAM, but a 32-bit processor, it's likely that this would be a configuration that would get very little or no testing (especially from driver developers) so would be potentially very buggy.

      A lot of PCI devices are 32-bit, so drivers need to use bounce buffers to do DMA transfers to physical memory over the 4GB line. This is something that device drivers designed for 32-bit systems won't do, because they can just pass 32-bit physical addresses straight to the device on the systems they were written for.

    • by sam0737 (648914)

      Pure technical reason - short answer: nope.

      This is what I have heard - it's not that 32-bit can't do PAE (as you mentioned, in Server SKU it support up to 64GB), but drivers for client 32-bit SKU are usually written are tested for PAE, which means more bluescreen if you insist doing so.

    • by yoyhed (651244)
      Are you actually running MORE than 4GB of RAM with a 32-bit processor? If so, I'd assume it was an older server, in which case you'd probably be running Windows Server which indeed does support more than 4GB for 32 bit. 64-bit Windows compatibility these days is awesome with everything but old 16-bit applications (and you can just run an emulator or VM for those) - no reason not to use the 64-bit version if you've got 4+ gigs of RAM.
    • by drsmithy (35869)

      Is there a good technical reason for 32-bit Windows 7 not supporting more than 4 GB of RAM, period?

      Yes. Firstly it requires applications to be modified to really see much benefit, secondly it hurts performance, and thirdly it breaks a myriad of poorly written third-party drivers and other low-level applications.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Yes. Firstly it requires applications to be modified to really see much benefit, secondly it hurts performance, and thirdly it breaks a myriad of poorly written third-party drivers and other low-level applications.

        So? Its never stopped them before.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Firstly it requires applications to be modified to really see much benefit

        Modified? You mean setting the 'allow me to see more than 2GB of RAM' bit on the executable? Which they should be doing in any case so that it works better on 64-bit Windows? That sounds like lots of work.

        PAE is invisible to applications, has a small performance impact in the worst case and a significant performance benefit in the best case. Microsoft just chose not to support it because they didn't want the support calls when poorly-written drivers fell over.

    • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bernywork (57298) <bstapleton@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:08PM (#32875984) Journal

      You try accessing more than 2GB of RAM (or 3GB of RAM with the /3GB switch in boot.ini) in a single process. What you end up having to do is (firstly) your own memory management (Which sucks) and having to manage multiple 2GB "windows" so if you want to read data you have to swap in an out of these "windows" to be able to read them as the kernel itself is only 32bit and can only directly address 4GB of RAM.

      So you end up coding in what is known in Windows as "Addressable Window Extensions" and they are a pain in the arse. Doing this on SQL server and Oracle was basically a necessity, and when PAE was first thought of, this is exactly what was being thought about, database systems. They have been able to use PAE in VMware etc and other places as they give the upper and lower limits for memory address directly to the operating system (Windows, Linux whatever else is actually running in the VM) and then they address via the hypervisor that memory address space, meaning that the hypervisor doesn't have to do a lot of memory management (Certainly nothing like protected memory)

      So in effect, the biggest reason for 32bit Windows 7 not supporting more than 4GB of RAM is because the kernel itself is a 32bit app and doesn't have the 64bit address space to directly address more than 4GB of RAM itself.

      In the long term it's just too hard, and it's easier to code for 64bit than to deal with what are effectively kludges to make this work.

      If you need to know more about this, I would suggest Mark Russinovich's Windows Internals book.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Pushing people off 32bit so that 64 bit drivers are properly developed for is a pretty good reason.
       
        I bet in two years' time with the wider adoption of 64 bit atom processors we'll see Win7-64 being 80%+ of the install base. Considering both versions cost the same there's no reason to go with 32 bit unless you have some horrible backwards app that can't handle being run in XP-32 compatibility mode as administrator.

  • limits (Score:5, Funny)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:28AM (#32875556)

    192GB ought to be enough for anyone...

  • The majority are probably shipped that way. The new PC I bought for my wife came with Win7 Home Premium. It's dual boot though, as she has been on a KDE desktop for years and prefers that to Windows. She tried out Win 7 for a couple of days before I got Kubuntu set up for her, and she didn't care for it.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:31AM (#32875586) Journal

    We use the 32 bit at work for the compatability with old the old MS Access databases (don't ask... I just work here...)

    I use the 64 bit at home - even though it causes some odd glitches with various games here and there, for the most part it runs everything much smoother. I decided that I'd need more than 4 Gigs of RAM to run Visual Studio to Debug my modified Source game.

    • by NJRoadfan (1254248) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:34AM (#32875628)
      64-bit should be fine for most. For those 32-bit apps that glitch out (or those random Win16 apps, like the old Windows Entertainment Pack games), just run them with XP Mode.
      • At work we find a lot of our apps need to run in Compatability mode regardless of 32 or 64 bit. - I mean they were written in like PowerBuilder 4 or something... Just finished getting them working with Oracle 10g.

        At home, I find that on the odd occaison, Dragon Age Origins will have a glitchy moment, kind of like tearing but not. I mean I've fiddled around with compatability and video options, to no avail - I would normally suspect the graphics card in that case but I was pretty sure a GTS 240 could handle

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by shaunbr (563633) *

        Other than the 16-bit apps, which 64-bit Windows 7 *finally* removed support for, I've had few issues with older programs. I even loaded Might and Magic VI (written in ~1997) and it loaded up and ran without problems -- I didn't even need to use XP compatibility mode.

        Microsoft may get a lot of criticism here (much of it rightly deserved), but backwards compatibility is something they've almost always managed to get right. For the last few years I wondered how much pain we'd run into when the 'average' des

      • XP Mode doesn't support 3D graphics. At all.

        Which leaves you two choices: VirtualBox, which supports OpenGL plus DirectX 8/9 if you replace one of the OS's files, or VMWare Player which supports OpenGL and all versions of DirectX out of the box.

    • Same boat here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:38AM (#32875668) Homepage Journal

      Just got the word that the desktop team is pushing out Window 7. Unfortunately, there are "a couple" of printers that they couldn't get working 64b drivers for. So they are pushing the 32b version out to everyone...

      Blows my mind... It would cost at most a $5000 to replace those printers, compared to the cost of 600+ copies of Windows 7. Crazy.

      -Rick

      • If its anything like where I work (community college) actually doing the work to get more printers purchased is more work then installing 32 bit version of Windows.

        The other thing - having dealt with this exact issue - often similar drivers will work on older printers. For example - if there are Vista 64 or XP-64 drivers those will work - or failing that a similar PCL-5 driver (that may actually come with the OS). Also many printers support postscript emulation - and while postscript isn't technically devic

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Is there a compelling reason for using 64 bits...? If not, stick with the printers.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:51PM (#32876534)

        That is the most common reason I hear for not using 64-bit: "My printer and/or scanner don't work with it." My response is "Then throw that piece of shit out and get a new one." However for some reason, that never seems to be an option considered. They want to keep their 10 year old scanner with their brand new $1000 desktop, even though $50 would get a better, newer scanner.

        Here at work we do both. I work for a university so we have to be flexible. I push 64-bit as the default but I'll give them 32-bit if they bitch or if there is a compatibility issue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by King_TJ (85913)

          I dunno.... I do understand it from the users' perspective. Sometimes, a printer or a scanner is clearly not a piece of shit, worthy of just throwing away, simply because nobody could be bothered to code updated drivers for it. EG. We have a couple of HP DesignJet plotters where I work that use the 42" roll paper. They probably cost well over $12,000 each when they were new, and even today, I see them selling for over $1,000 on eBay. HP never wrote drivers for them for any OS newer than Windows XP (al

    • by Dracker (1323355)
      You need Access on 64 bit? Get these hotfixes:
      http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=C06B8369-60DD-4B64-A44B-84B371EDE16D&displaylang=en [microsoft.com]
      http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=C06B8369-60DD-4B64-A44B-84B371EDE16D&displaylang=en [microsoft.com]

      I, too, have to work with Access databases at work and these hotfixes let me do it on our 64 bit servers.
  • What about flash? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JasonStevens (1574841)
    We've only been waiting FOREVER for a Win64 version of Flash from adobe...

    Although I will say this, the state of drivers for Win64 is far better then the early days (NT 3.1/3.5) of Win32.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:44AM (#32875718) Journal

      We've only been waiting FOREVER for a Win64 version of Flash from adobe...

      They probably don't feel like they need to rush it, because, as it is, Win7 x64 still ships with 32-bit IE as a default browser (due to need to preserve plugin compatibility), and all other mainstream browsers only release officially supported Windows versions in 32-bit.

      • by Joe Snipe (224958) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:07PM (#32875970) Homepage Journal

        Did you just say that we don't have 64-bit flash because Windows uses 32-bit IE because we don't have 64-bit flash?

        • by ashridah (72567)

          Yep. Probably the most secure browser in the world is a 64bit one, since you can't run any plugins, and you're using one of the most uncommon stack layouts... :P

        • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:56PM (#32876616)

          It gets circular like that because developers are lazy fucks. So MS includes 32-bit IE, 32-bit Windows Media Player and so on as compatibility measures. Your old plugins will keep working in your new OS. They also have 64-bit versions so that when they upgrade you can use that, but they maintain old versions for compatibility. So, the lazy fucks at Adobe say "Well 32-bit is there, so we'll just keep that since that's what people use." People then say "Well Flash isn't out for 64-bit so I'll keep using 32-bit." You do get a circular situation. You can't blame the users, they use what is available, you need to blame the lazy shit devs.

      • by hannson (1369413)
        I don't get what a browser would gain from 64-bit support at the moment (even with all the 64bit plugins), I mean most browsers today are going towards a multi-process architecture making it unlikely for them to hit the 32bit process limit and going x64 would just increase the memory usage. Anyone care to shed some light on why 64 bit browsers are so important today?
    • by KlomDark (6370)

      What is the deal with those slothful people? Are they planning to make their business obsolete. I thought I'd see 64 bit Flash long before we saw 64 bit Windows hit the 50% mark.

      If I was a stockholder, I'd be pissed and selling.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449)

        You would? What actual advantage would you get from a 64 bit version of flash over the 32 bit version? None really unless it was an absolutely massive project.

        The only reason they did anything about it on Linux is because the default browser (often Firefox) was a 64 bit build.

  • In another news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by miknix (1047580) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:37AM (#32875664) Homepage

    I've been running 64bit Gentoo Linux since I bought one the first models of Athlon 64, which was almost 7 years ago!

  • by Robotron23 (832528) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#32875678) Homepage

    One of the most obvious things about the development of 64-bit architecture is how woefully behind its 32-bit counterpart just a few years ago. I had a spare rig which I put XP 64 on in around spring of 2007. The low level of development together with the fact that powerful machines did not often have more than 4GB back then meant little incentive for devs to put time in 64-bit. I couldn't even find hardware drivers, and this led my disgruntled self to format that particular rig, whilst telling myself to research this stuff in future.

    I believe Microsoft deserves some cred, along with certain hardware firms like AMD/Intel, with bringing 64 bit to the fore. Not to mention the PS3 and some Macs being of that architecture too. Ironically Microsoft's most stunted OS since the much maligned Windows ME was the first one that could run 64 bit convincingly despite a laundry list of flaws that haunted the entire life cycle of that particular product. Windows 7 is in some ways like XP was to ME a whole 9 years ago.

    Whilst it's great for RAM purposes, and thus demanding things like gaming which will soon require 6GB or more for popular titles there are drawbacks. A file in 64 bit takes up more memory, mainly due to alignment padding. Thus one needs a fairly good set of chips to cache efficiently in future years as the levels of memory inevitably increase. However with the amount of progress going on I daresay all but the most budget hardware solutions will tackle drawbacks very well.

    That the figure is now 50% compared to about a fifth of that not long ago is indicative that 64-bit has finally become established in the mainstream.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Whilst it's great for RAM purposes, and thus demanding things like gaming which will soon require 6GB or more for popular titles there are drawbacks. A file in 64 bit takes up more memory, mainly due to alignment padding. Thus one needs a fairly good set of chips to cache efficiently in future years as the levels of memory inevitably increase. However with the amount of progress going on I daresay all but the most budget hardware solutions will tackle drawbacks very well.

      The one thing people keep forgetting is how register-starved the 32-bit x86 is compared to the 64-bit. Going 64-bit on the x86 has performance benefits in addition to the large memory space. Another benefit is an explicit availability of fast vector instruction sets such as SSE(1,2,3+), which are not guaranteed to be on the 32-bit x86 CPUs.

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      I believe Microsoft deserves some cred, along with certain hardware firms like AMD/Intel, with bringing 64 bit to the fore.

      Sadly, that's largely a reflection on the distorting effect that Microsoft has on the market. Intel and Microsoft were just following where just about everybody else had gone before.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Vista was actually a much better implementation of 64-bit than WinXP-64, and Vista's limited driver and software support was *nothing* compared to the wasteland that was XP-64. I realize there was a lot of pissing and moaning about Vista, but you probably would have experienced far less heartache by going that route in the Spring of '07 than "sticking with" XP (which you weren't actually doing anyway, since 64-bit XP comes from a separate codebase).

    • 32-bit compatibility in 64-bit Windows is completely seamless. Any user mode app just runs. You are unaware it is 32-bit unless you check the process list, it suffers no noticeable (and hardly even measurable) speed degradation and so on. It just works, you don't have to know or care if the app is 32-bit or not.

      That means, for most people, there is no reason NOT to run 64-bit. It is very rare that you have an app that runs on a 32-bit OS but not a 64-bit one. The only real cases are ones that use kernel dri

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:48AM (#32875762) Homepage

    Is there a reason they can't go above the artificial limit of 192 GB?

    64 bit CPUs should be able to access up to 18,446,000,000 GB of memory space, so I see no reason for the arbitrary limit.

    • by Zerth (26112) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:55AM (#32875852)

      Is there a reason they can't go above the artificial limit of 192 GB?

      Because then Windows Server wouldn't look very impressive.

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:03PM (#32875932)

      Is there a reason they can't go above the artificial limit of 192 GB?

      Is there a realistic way of testing it past that amount?

      • What, you mean software is supposed to be tested on what it claims to support? I thought we could just assume the coding was fine. ;)

        Seriously though, you're right. You don't claim to support something unless you tested it on that, usually. Perhaps this is different with *cough cough* most free software, I don't know (I wouldn't blame them particularly, since I doubt most free/open-source devs have access to copious amounts of ram).

        • > I don't know (I wouldn't blame them particularly, since I doubt most
          > free/open-source devs have access to copious amounts of ram).

          Right. How could the "devs" at kernel.org and Mozilla, for example, possibly have access to fancy hardware? After all, they are only backed by little companies such as IBM, Intel, Oracle, HP, Google...

          How many different architectures is your software built and tested on?

          • Me personally? I work at one of those large companies you mentioned. We support x86 (32 and 64 bit), ia64, Power, PARISC (HPUX), and SPARC... OS's are RHEL/SLES (x86, ia64), HP-UX (PARISC and ia64), Solaris (SPARC), and AIX (POWER). We have very large test matrices.

            I know there are some big-hitter free software projects that are backed by large companies and have fairly large revenue streams. I was thinking more about the small-time free software projects, not corporate-backed projects.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      Most (even server) CPU's don't support more anyway. It isn't a hard limit like the 640k or 4GB limits though, the next version can support more while remaining binary compatible with user programs. Given that it's hardly a problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:13PM (#32876022)

      18446000000 / 16GB = 1,152,875,000. Note at 400MHz(the minimum DDR3 speed) light travels about 1 meter per clock cycle. Such a memory array would be much larger than 1 cubic meter, making DDR latency numbers impossible to meet even with lightspeed interconnects.

      Yes, IAAAD(I am an ASIC designer)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit#Current_64-bit_microprocessor_architectures

      The x64 has a 48 bit limitation on the virtual address space.

    • by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:23PM (#32876174)
      x86-64 can only address 48-bits and Windows only addresses 44-bits (16 TB). The Windows limitation is interesting because no windows release to date can even touch that address limitation.

      My best guess would be that OS releases are artificially limited to the amount of memory they actually test internally against. Home Premium probably doesn't get serious testing beyond 16GB while Ultimate might get tested against 192GB workstation hardware. High end server releases probably get tested with up to 2TB (probably the maximum amount of hardware available at time of testing). 32-bit desktops probably don't even get tested with PAE enabled at all since chances are desktop hardware drivers will crash and burn so they get a 4GB limit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by janeuner (815461)

      In this context, bit-width refers to the size of a data register, not the size of the address space. The address space of an x86-64 processor varies between 40-bits up to a full 64-bits, depending upon the generation of a particular architecture.

      Further, consider the purpose of such a mechanism. DD3 can move data at a rate in the range of 2^34 bytes/sec. If we had a memory pool of 2^48 bytes, it would take 4 hours just to read the full contents of that memory space one time. This is clearly unusable, so

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:45PM (#32876444)

      But yes, it is an artificial limit. Their lower end products are limited on purpose. For example Home Premium is limited to 16GB which is as much as you are likely to see in a home system, but pros might want more. Hence 7 pro (and ultimate) has a higher limit.

      As to why they choose to limit it to 192GB? No idea.

      The actual limit for The Windows NT 6.1 setup is 2TB. I don't remember the particular technical reasons for that, but they are there. There is no reason to process addressing for the full 64-bits of memory when no system exists that can take it. You'll also find that CPUs have memory limits lower than the 64-bit cap. They don't have all 64 address lines because it is not needed. I don't know what it is currently, but it is still below 64-bit. Again, no system could possibly have that much (never mind space, a memory controller couldn't handle the electrical load) so no sense in adding hardware you don't need.

      Thus are ARE real limits below the actual 64-bit space but you are correct, 192GB is not one of them. That is an artificial limit and I don't know why they chose it. Doesn't really matter, I do not see people using more than that in a desktop system (144GB is the most I've seen workstation hardware support) and they can always up the limit.

      However you are correct that it seems odd.

  • Only half? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday July 12, 2010 @11:59AM (#32875888)

    Everything I've ever thrown at 64 bit windows runs just fine, and usually somewhat smoother than 32 bit. Even some really old stuff. The only software I ever found that don't run on 64-bit are some really old dos games and utilities, but then they didn't even run under 32-bit XP either.

    It boggles my mind why so many people with 64-bit hardware would still install a 32-bit version of windows. I wonder how much of this is actually ignorance and/or just force of habit rather than actual knowledge that they have something that actually doesn't work under 64 bit.

    • I run 64bit Win7 just fine as my gaming/art box, haven't found anything incompatible yet.
      I don't run Office, though - just portable apps, Adobe CS video/graphics, and games.

    • The Intel Atom netbook and nettop computers require 32 bit OSs. So there really are new, popular computers being shipped which just can't run 64bit.

    • by EXTomar (78739) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:18PM (#32876096)

      There are multiple version with multiple flavors at different price points that confuses "people". Add to this the finicky way upgrades behave and "upgrade upgrade" software and it is no wonder a lot of people don't care or realize a 64-bit version exists.

    • I'm informal tech support for an older lady. I just recently replaced her crappy Dell 2350 with a nice little i3 Gateway (nee Acer) that came with Win 7 64. But I had to also replace her Lexmark Z80 as no real 64 bit drivers exist.
  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:02PM (#32875928)
    I had to work on someone's Vista 64 bit machine and I hated it. Not only were half the programs running in 32 bit mode but almost none of my virus removal tools worked so I couldn't completely disinfect it. Three different antivirus programs wouldn't install properly on it either. Almost no software I had ran on it and for some reason, Java 32 bit was installed and 64 bit wouldn't install. If I wanted a computer that no software ran on, I'd buy a mac.
    • So, because of experiences with Vista x64 (which everyone agrees was not exactly a great OS to begin with), you have decided that 7 x64 is bad. Even though almost everyone in this thread has reported GREAT experiences with the x64 version of Windows 7.

      I ran Vista x64 and Windows 7 x64 and had few problems with either (none with 7, a couple with Vista). So now we are even with our one-on-one anecdotal evidence. ;)

    • If I wanted a computer that no software ran on, I'd buy a mac.

      Ha Ha. But what do you mean? The 64 bit transition there has been much smoother. And these days what doesn't run on a Mac? You can after all even run Steam now...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by King_TJ (85913)

        To be fair, OS X hasn't really fully transitioned people to 64-bits. Yes, the OS supports it, but the 64-bit kernel isn't even enabled by default. You have to hold down the 6 and the 4 keys while booting to tell it to boot into a 64-bit kernel.

        Apple most likely did this because of concerns of drivers not being compatible, and wanting to minimize the number of crashes for people upgrading OS X.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aztracker1 (702135)
        Just because the Steam platform is there doesn't mean all the games magically are there to... Though with Fink or MacPorts there is a lot of FOSS available...
    • by Malc (1751)

      That must have been some time ago because x64 Windows is pretty good these days. The only thing that's causing me problems with it at the moment is the lack of Cisco VPN client. As for the 32 bit apps running in 32 bit mode - who cares?

      I don't think you know much about the current state of Macs either.

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