Upgrade Report [GeekTech: 64-Bit PCs Coming Soon - 01/25/2005]

Discussion in 'IBM' started by Ablang, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. Ablang

    Ablang Guest

    January 25th, 2005

    GeekTech: 64-Bit PCs Coming Soon

    Sr. Assoc. Ed. Tom Mainelli

    The dawn of 64-bit Windows desktop computing is upon us. So say the
    likes of Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, and Microsoft. And this time,
    they really, really mean it.

    It's about time.

    Ever since AMD launched its Athlon 64 desktop processor in September
    2003, it seems we've been on the cusp of the edge of the beginning of
    the front portion of the eagerly anticipated transition from 32-bit to
    64-bit computing.

    For our initial take on the processor, read "First Tests of Athlon 64
    PCs: Fastest Yet":
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968663/0/

    And so we geeks have waited, with bated breath, only to be denied time
    and again.

    Sure, AMD has been pushing hard for a 64-bit Windows operating
    system--and maybe a few apps to run on it--for years. However, each
    time a launch date for Microsoft's Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
    neared, the company pushed it back:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968664/0/

    First it was delayed so Microsoft could work on security issues; then
    the company pushed it back again to work on Windows XP SP2. Then Bill
    decided his golf game needed work, so he commissioned 1000 of his best
    x64 Edition engineers to crunch numbers on why he couldn't hit the
    green from the tee box on the short par 3 in his backyard. (Okay, I
    made up that last part.)

    Regardless of the reasons for the delay, Intel used this lack of a
    mainstream OS to justify the nonexistence of its own 64-bit desktop
    processor. (Yes, I know there is a 64-bit version of Linux, as well as
    a 64-bit Apple desktop and OS. I said mainstream, so there's no need
    to write to me.)

    Actually, let me take that back. First Intel suggested it wasn't
    rushing out a 64-bit desktop because such it didn't see a need for
    such a chip until the end of the decade. For more on this, read "AMD
    Pushes for 64-Bit Desktops":
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968665/0/

    Later, Intel blamed the lack of a required infrastructure (OS and
    drivers) for its slow move to 64 bits:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968666/0/

    As we begin 2005, however, both Intel and Microsoft insist they're
    ready to go. Microsoft has released its first x64 release candidate
    and promises to launch the final product by midyear. And Intel says it
    will have a new generation of 64-bit-ready Pentium 4 processors before
    midyear as well:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968667/0/

    Meanwhile, AMD continues to lead the way with Athlon 64 processors
    appearing in both desktops and notebooks. In fact, the company
    recently announced plans for a next-generation 64-bit notebook
    processor called "Turion"--and no, I'm not making up that name. For
    the full story, read "AMD Readies New Mobile Processors":
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968668/0/

    See, I told you they really mean it this time.

    Give Me the 64 Bitness

    So what's the big deal about 64 bits? Well, to be honest, it's not
    clear that there's really much need yet for the increased computing
    power the move from 32 bits to 64 bits will bring. However, that's
    never stopped us from wanting more before. Last I checked, Microsoft
    Word doesn't require a 3-GHz processor, either.

    The technology's most profound impact, at least early on, will
    probably be its ability to support dramatically more system memory.
    Today's 32-bit processors and operating systems can use only 4GB of
    memory, max: 2GB for the OS and 2GB for apps.

    A 64-bit processor and OS can theoretically access up to 16 exabytes
    of memory--that's more than 16 billion gigabytes. Since nobody has
    announced plans to offer 4-billion-gigabyte memory DIMMs, a more
    realistic memory configuration in a high-end 64-bit desktop is
    probably something like 8 gigabytes. With that much memory available
    there would be little reason for programs to constantly access that
    pokey old hard drive: Savvy apps could load just about everything into
    memory.

    Alas, therein lies the rub. Much like the x64 Edition of XP, 64-bit
    desktop apps capable of utilizing all that memory have yet to
    materialize. Every time somebody writes about 64-bit computing, they
    trot out the same examples: Video editing apps are coming soon; Epic
    plans a native 64-bit version of Unreal Tournament. As of right now,
    however, none of the big shooters seem eager to spend the money to
    update their apps for 64 bits. Why bother when there's no OS or Intel
    chips?

    It's the classic chicken-and-egg pattern. Even as Microsoft repeatedly
    delayed its OS, the company asked vendors to begin work on their own
    64-bit drivers. (Do as we say, not as we do?) Read more about that in
    "Microsoft Calls for 64-Bit Support":
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/968669/0/

    Hopefully, with Intel and Microsoft finally ready to join AMD with
    real products, that's about to change. Now the software folks will
    finally have a reason to start updating their apps. And once they
    start fiddling, the hope is they'll find many new and interesting ways
    to use all that newfound computing power.

    That's how technology moves forward. That's how breakthroughs in user
    interfaces are made. That's how we move to the next big thing.

    They really, really mean it this time.

    Have a question or comment? Write to Tom Mainelli:
    geektech*pcworld.com

    Read Tom Mainelli's regularly published "GeekTech" columns:
    http://pcwnl.pcworld.com/t/354411/15377828/239026/0/


    ===
    "I'd rather be playing video games." -- Me
     
    Ablang, Jan 26, 2005
    #1
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