I have been reading some posts and some websites about 64 bit processors lately. For example, the intel itamium, which sounds like a total waste, and then the AMD hammer and so forth. Now, I hardly know anything about the new architectures, so bear with me. First, my understanding is that these first 64 bit processors are for servers and workgroup computing, not for the home user. However, I understand that the later processors are going to be geared towards the home user. From reading an article about windows xp 64, it sounds as though the only real advantage to a 64 bit processor is that it can support massive amounts of memory. This makes sense if you are running a server and need gigbytes of ram. The AMD hammer, I believe, is designed towards the home user, so what will its advantages be in comparison to the current processors? Will it be able to run windows xp 64? How does it compare to apple's processors? Will it become to the new standard, and if so why?
>First, my understanding is that these first 64 bit >processors are for servers and workgroup computing, not >for the home user.
Correct. You may want to add workstations though.
>From reading an article about windows xp 64, it sounds as >though the only real advantage to a 64 bit processor is >that it can support massive amounts of memory
Thats not entirely correct. First of all, it depends on what cpu you are talking about. For the Hammer x86-64 line of cpu's this is more or less true. While there some other advantages (64 bit registers) that may help scientific calculations, its primarely advantage is the addressable memory. If you are talking Itanium, please keep in mind the Itanium has close to nothing in common with current X86 cpu's. Its an entirely new architecture, that may also bring other benefits as well as disadvantages. Some early benchmarks show the Itanium does very well on some very specific software (eg SSL encrytption). Itanium performance however, seems very very dependant on compiler optimizations. This has nothing to do with the 64 bit nature of the beast, but everything with its VLIW core.
>This makes sense if you are running a server and need >gigbytes of ram.
Yup. But, keep in mind, not so many years ago we all bought computers with 4 Mb or less. Now 128-256 is the norm. It wont be too long before 4Gb becomes common, even for home computing. This being said, even the P2 can in theory address upto 64 Gb if Im not mistaken, since it has 36 bit memory addressing (as has the P3/P4/Atlhon/Duron) in spite of the 32 bit core.
>The AMD hammer, I believe, is designed towards the home >user, so what will its advantages be in comparison to the >current processors?
Not really. The hammer is also geared towards workstations and servers. However, since the hammer will be able to run current 32 bit software at lightening speeds (unlike the Itanium, that uses emulation to achieve +- Pentium 100 performance), it could perfectly be used in home pc's as well.
>so what will its [hammer] advantages be in comparison to >the current processors? Will it be able to run windows xp 64?
Its advantage ouhgt to be speed, speed and speed. And as added bonus, you get 64 bit abilities "for free". Microsoft has not announced any support for the x86-64 architecture yet afaik. However, it shouldnt be too hard for MS to compile a WinXP for hammer. I would very surprised if they wouldnt. In which case you can still run Unix or 32 bit XP.
>How does it compare to apple's processors?
Like oranges ;-) Seriously, apple is not (to my knowledge) developping a 64 bit platform. Since they are non existing in the server and workstation market, they dont have the need either. And like I said in another post, it might make sense for Apple to adopt the Hammer and release a 64 bit Mac OS-X one day..
>Will it become to the new standard, and if so why?
No one really knows. My guess is that Itanium (IA64) will find some adoption in high end servers and clusters for specific tasks where it shines. I dont see it become mainstream in any future. Hammer x86-64 is sure to find its way to the desktop/workstation and probably also the server market, but wether it will be used as a fast IA32 platform, or if much advantage will be taken of the x86-64 architecture remains to be seen. Its all still very very far away to make educated guesses.
---- Owner of the only Dell computer with a AMD chip