I am going to be building a new PC soon mainly to do 3D animation work along with some picture/video/audio editing. Software I will be using is 3DS Max 9, Adobe CS3, Premiere and After Effects. I have read a lot about the issues with usable RAM with 32 vs 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. I am leaning towards getting Vista 64x because it can allow for using the full 8GB of RAM (32bit Vista is <4GB usable). My question is if I am using mainly 32-bit programs on Vista 64, will they even take advantage of the extra RAM even if Windows recognizes it?
Also if 32bit programs can still only recognize/use <4GB of RAM, will having 8GB of RAM on Vista 64 still be beneficial if I run lots of applications at once? Generally when I am working I have 3DS Max, Photoshop, iTunes, and a couple internet windows up (a lot of times streaming video). With having all these programs running at the same time, would I see any performance difference by doing 8GB of RAM? General RAM I am looking at is G.Skill DDR2 800mhz
In a broad sense, heavy duty apps should all run their best since the 64 bit OS can allow each their full load of memory. The limitations inherent in a 32 bit OS obviously having been removed.
Having said that - Understand that the applications themselves may still have memory limitations: In 32 bit windows, the space available for a given app is typically 2GB. Therefore it is not uncommon for individual apps to be programmed to use that, and only that much, address space. In the situation where that is the case, the application itself will only use what it's capable of.
Some apps, particularly ones intended for heavier duty may be able to handle more addressing than the 2GB, these will be able to use more. How much?? Varies - You'll have to ask the maker to know for sure - but 3GB may be a reasonable guess for a 32 bit 'Large Address Aware' program.
In practical terms, what this means is that even under a 64 bit OS, just because you have 8GB (or however much), doesn't necessarily mean that the software you are running on the OS will be able to use it all. It'll surely be able to use as much of the available RAM as it can, though.
Also understand that nothing runs alone: So even if your program is somehow restricted to say, (pulls ficticious number from his behind) 3GB, there is still advantage to be had in the setup you are contemplating since the entire 3GB could be allocated to the app - It won't have to compete for memory with other applications since there is address space and RAM available for lots more.
CS3 will (at least should) work fine on XP x64 and Vista x64 (may have rare problems with Vista x64; this was during Vista SP1 RC). I have tested it out on both OSes and it works. Also 6GB+ really helps on CS3, esp. with XP x64. If all your software runs on XP x64 consider getting this instead of Vista. Vista has a higher system RAM usage meaning less RAM is available for apps.
If all it will see is 4 GB of RAM, you can't change that.
As was stated earlier, if it uses 4 GB max, and it's getting 4 GB, you're still getting the benefit over 32-bit because it's not competing for the RAM, it gets the whole lot.
Besides, unless you're processing a RAW 10 megapixel image, you're probably not going to need it anyways.
The problem with these programmers is they (for whatever reason) don't just check to see how much memory Windows sees, and uses that variable as the maximum allocated memory instead of some arbitrary number (with error protection to make sure the is always RAM avaliable for use, of course ). I've been doing this for years; I have 8-bit apps running fine of Vista 64, and 32-bit ups that can use > 4GB RAM.
That being said, weather a program can actually USE that much RAM at any given point is up in the air. I've seen mods for CivIV use upwards of ~6GB RAM on some of the gigantic maps late in the game, and will break 32-bit systems eventually (to the point where a save game can't load right). Some of those mods are actually great memory benchmarking tools...