Best Practice Ezine #56 – 64-Bit Processing
Contents of 64-Bit Processing
In childhood, every boy is an expert on cars makes and model numbers. However, in adulthood, most men move on to other delights and their obsession with car models fades. To digress further, my Father quotes all the pre-war Austin 7 models, apparently, there was a Baby 7, a Ruby 7 and an Austin Big 7. To me the latter was a contradiction in terms. If I could draw an analogy with computer chips, until recently, I had lost my former interest in processor model numbers. I had no idea that AMD made so many different processors. I see there are plain Athlon processors an FX and also an X2 variant. AMD even make a Turion chip for mobiles.
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Why my sudden interest in AMD’s 64-bit processors? Well, I was about to buy a new machine, and until now I have always bought Pentium. When I started my research the new 64-bit Pentium’s did not seem as advanced as their AMD equivalent. As I don’t buy new computers very often, I seek a little future proof, moreover I see 64-bit Windows XP is already here, and that 64-bit Longhorn is in Beta. Therefore, to test these systems I need to make sure that my new computer can run 64-bit programs. My research uncovered that technically speaking, 64-bit processing will mean a massive increase in virtual memory, up from 4 GB to 16,000 GB. This must mean faster response as more data can be held, or even pre-loaded, in virtual memory.
It was George Santyana who said ‘Those who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them’. So let us look back and see what happened when 32-Bit programs replaced their 16-bit counterparts. What made the transition smooth was WOW (Windows on Windows). In my minds eye, WOW provided a padded cell for the 16-bit program. What’s more WOW provided an emulation of the old environment, the result was the 16-bit programs ran happily ever after in their padded cells. Therefore, it will be easy for Microsoft to perform the same trick with WoW64, which will run all my present 32-bit applications without any problem.
Time for one of my litmus tests. Professional software companies have a version of their program for the latest operating system. While the 95% of the 16-bit programs worked perfectly, I was always suspicious of companies who did not produce 32-bit software. I felt that their sales would suffer, and more worrying, there would be no upgrades, and sooner or later I would have to switch to different software. As you may gather, I will be watching out for which companies do and which do not produce 64-bit versions of the software.
Reading between the lines, it seems that the drivers are going to be the biggest problem with 64-bit systems. It is my belief that these compatibility problems go in cycles, and once again we should study the lessons of history. Old timers bang on about why you should buy only kit that’s on the HCL, then the next generation say, ‘Do not worry old timer, everything now works fine, hardware compatibility problems are thing of the past’. Well I can foresee driver incompatibilities with 64-bit systems. From scanners to graphics cards, tears will be shed if you try to use the old hardware on the 64-bit systems. So, once again check Microsoft’s HCL for any hardware you are planning to deploy. Incidentally, another litmus test that separates the amateurs from the professionals is the ease with which companies provide support for drivers.
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SP1 for SBS 2003
I always feel with Microsoft, that they will get there in the end. Well I can report that following the Windows Server 2003 SP1 debate, the promised SBS version of SP1 is now available.
Results of PDF, Word and Ebook Survey
Owing to pressure of work, there was no ezine last week. However, I just want to say a thank you to those who took the trouble to vote in my survey the week before. It was a classic of me providing a free CSVDE ebook, and you the readers kindly responding to my PDF / Word / Ezine question. It is only through feedback from you the readers that I truly appreciate the desire for PDF and Word versions of my ebooks. All I can say is that all future ebooks will have a PDF equivalent and that as and when I re-write existing editions, they too will have PDF versions.
See more interesting Litmus Tests