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Operating System Details And Issues

Your 64-Bit Check List: Potential Issues You Might See
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Windows retail versions are typically available in both 32-bit and 64-bit varieties. There are special edition discs that contain both versions, such as a Vista DVD for Microsoft MSDN subscribers. But you have to pay attention to ensure that you install the right version of Windows, as there is no way to change the version once it has been installed.

How Much RAM Do You Want?

Going for a 64-bit system and large amounts of memory not only provides more breathing room for applications, it also allows modern operating systems such as Windows Vista to perform well. First, this means relocating less data into the slower swap file on your hard drive. Second, Vista will take advantage of more RAM by intensively using its SuperFetch feature, which pre-loads applications in the order of importance, meaning that your most popular applications will be pre-buffered into available main memory first. The purpose is to have these applications available almost instantly when you decide to launch them. Since memory kits providing four or even eight gigabytes of RAM have become really affordable, this would be our choice. Power users and enthusiasts definitely want 8 GB of RAM on a 64-bit system today; normal users should not utilize anything below 2 GB. 1 GB is only sufficient for occasional PC use and simple applications.

32-Bit Issues On Windows

As mentioned in the introduction, 32-bit versions of Windows will not give you the full 4 GB of RAM that you might have installed, as Windows components and devices requiring so-called memory mapped access have to reside within the first 32 bits (4 GB) of main memory. A graphics card with 512 MB of on-board graphics RAM requires this memory to be mapped into the system memory, effectively reducing your total capacity by 512 MB. Windows Vista typically limits the available memory to 3.12 GB, but depending on your system hardware, the effective RAM capacity may even be smaller. Add-ons such as Microsoft’s .NET framework can consume 200 MB or more. Linux does things differently, as the kernel never requires more than 1 GB; hence up to 3 GB of RAM can be assigned to processes.

Physical Address Extension instead of 64-bit Windows?

Some Windows versions support a feature that is known as Physical Address Extension (PAE), which means that more than 4 GB of memory can be addressed through a re-mapping process. Windows then not only utilizes the simple way of memory mapping described above, it uses a memory mapping that is based on three levels of paging instead of two. While this has been successfully deployed on servers, desktop systems tend to run into driver compatibility issues because of insufficient standardization: drivers might be assuming that PAE always requires more than 4 GB of RAM, or that addresses will always be 32 or 64 bits wide.

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  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2009 7:00 AM
    This article is filled with inaccuracies. The most outrageous is this one:

    "Finally, there are scientific applications that do not deliver sufficiently precise results unless there are a sufficient number of bits for floating point operations. In these cases, 64-bit applications on 64-bit operating systems are the only real choice."

    No, wrong. Double precision numbers (64-bit floats) are available in 32-bit Windows, just as they are in 64-bit Windows. In fact, 32-bit processes (on 32-bit Windows or 64-bit Windows) have access to the 80-bit floats of the x86 processor. These are rarely used, but technically 32-bit processes have access to *more* accurate floating-point not less.

    For cryptography -- when you need numbers with hundreds or thousands of bits -- the ability to do *integer* math 64-bits at a time in a 64-bit operating system is valuable and leads to a significant speedup.

    Ditto for fractals -- Fractal eXtreme (www.cygnus-software.com) -- uses 64-bit math for a 4x speedup on deep zooms on a 64-bit OS.

    But floating-point math is not improved.

    Other errors:

    > The processor switches to the 32-bit mode for individual clock cycles when necessary.

    It doesn't switch on a per-cycle basis.

    I've been using 64-bit Windows for two years now. It's been great. My machines all have 4-8 GB of RAM and I can run 32-bit and 64-bit software. Choice is good.
  • 12 Hide
    scook9 , June 16, 2009 11:59 AM
    I personally am tired of hearing people complain about how much of a "hog" Vista and Windows 7 are. You know, people complained a lot too when Microsoft added the little animation for while you are copying files, because that would bog down a system as well - and guess what, the world moved on and hardware got cheaper so this was a non issue. If you want a super efficient and streamlined system, then run an ancient OS on modern hardware, you will be wowed by how little resources it uses (and how much compatibility you lose) OR you can just shut up buy some memory because it is dirt cheap and use the new OS, like the rest of the world.

    Hardware and software companies acknowledge that new OS's are the standard to meet, this is why features like Quad SLI are reserved for Vista only and not XP. It is called progress, get out of the way.
  • 11 Hide
    apache_lives , June 16, 2009 7:54 AM
    adbatI strongly do not agree with this - this drives the PC market to insane chase after MORE.I believe that home or office PC do not require 1GB 512 MB i sufficient for XP+office 2003 or XP+browser witch is what most home users need. The additional ram is for gamers, enthusiasts, or for people who got vista sold to them at the store.I have put together a relay small machine with 512MB of memory for my family that mainly need if for browsing and communicating and no one complains and even when I need to use it from time to time I can see how smooth it works.


    Antivirus thrashes that 512mb bad and sure xp started with the ability to run with 512 or less but with every service pack adding up on system resources it is not the same for today.

    The other thing is everyone uses DDR2 atleast today and with prices so low, why the hell are we even talking about 512mb?
Other Comments
  • -3 Hide
    adbat , June 16, 2009 6:35 AM
    Quote:
    1 GB is only sufficient for occasional PC use and simple applications.

    I strongly do not agree with this - this drives the PC market to insane chase after MORE.
    I believe that home or office PC do not require 1GB 512 MB i sufficient for XP+office 2003 or XP+browser witch is what most home users need. The additional ram is for gamers, enthusiasts, or for people who got vista sold to them at the store.
    I have put together a relay small machine with 512MB of memory for my family that mainly need if for browsing and communicating and no one complains and even when I need to use it from time to time I can see how smooth it works.
  • 3 Hide
    NuclearShadow , June 16, 2009 6:35 AM
    I'm currently running Vista Ultimate x64 and I while I feared that it would cause major compatibility problems it turned out that wasn't the case and almost everything works just fine. With the extra ram capabilities I was able to turn page filing off which can really increase performance in games.

    I do believe you missed a disadvantage however. If I am not mistaken the 64 bit version doesn't support 16 bit programs. Bit I doubt this will be a problem for most.
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2009 7:00 AM
    This article is filled with inaccuracies. The most outrageous is this one:

    "Finally, there are scientific applications that do not deliver sufficiently precise results unless there are a sufficient number of bits for floating point operations. In these cases, 64-bit applications on 64-bit operating systems are the only real choice."

    No, wrong. Double precision numbers (64-bit floats) are available in 32-bit Windows, just as they are in 64-bit Windows. In fact, 32-bit processes (on 32-bit Windows or 64-bit Windows) have access to the 80-bit floats of the x86 processor. These are rarely used, but technically 32-bit processes have access to *more* accurate floating-point not less.

    For cryptography -- when you need numbers with hundreds or thousands of bits -- the ability to do *integer* math 64-bits at a time in a 64-bit operating system is valuable and leads to a significant speedup.

    Ditto for fractals -- Fractal eXtreme (www.cygnus-software.com) -- uses 64-bit math for a 4x speedup on deep zooms on a 64-bit OS.

    But floating-point math is not improved.

    Other errors:

    > The processor switches to the 32-bit mode for individual clock cycles when necessary.

    It doesn't switch on a per-cycle basis.

    I've been using 64-bit Windows for two years now. It's been great. My machines all have 4-8 GB of RAM and I can run 32-bit and 64-bit software. Choice is good.
  • -4 Hide
    gek77 , June 16, 2009 7:18 AM
    Sorry guys I also agree with "adbat". I personally run a verry old AMD Athlon XP 64 3000+ CPU with a 6600 VC and only 1Gig of RAM and I'm currently running Win7 for testing. The system also runs some games like H.A.W.X or Silent Hunter without any problems.
    It is true that if you want to have a gaming rig you will want more memory but I strongly disagree that you will need more than 4Gig's. A strong VC and CPU combined with low latency memory will do the trick.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2009 7:40 AM
    I am sorry, but how did this "review" made it so far and got published? First of all - it is plainly incomplete article about Windows. As far as i know, there are other operating systems that facilitate AMD64 architecture, some are have much older support for that. Then why put title so general, when this is just few bits and peaces about Windows?

    In essence i could summarize this article in two sentences from author standpoint - 64bit OS gives you ability to use more RAM and you will run in driver problems. If you are freak, you are using 64bit OS.

    I had expected better quality of articles.
    Points to work on - Is Windows Vista only OS that supports 64 bit CPUs? what problems have other OSes? Does every OS that supports 64 bits have to have "Compatibility mode" or that is just one name from some obscure proprietary OS? What about applications that could effectively use more than 2GB per application? For example, Mac OS X 10.5 is fully 64 bit operating system and it supports all the hardware your laptop might have, so where is the problem using it? Or should users dump that OS and hardware altogether? What about those few vendors that supply notebooks with Linux? those can use 64bit os too, driver problem, that is general in Linux community due to lack of drivers altogether, so no difference compared to standard 32bit kernel.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , June 16, 2009 7:49 AM
    gee cutting edge stuff, how long have 64 bit microsoft os's been available for?
  • 11 Hide
    apache_lives , June 16, 2009 7:54 AM
    adbatI strongly do not agree with this - this drives the PC market to insane chase after MORE.I believe that home or office PC do not require 1GB 512 MB i sufficient for XP+office 2003 or XP+browser witch is what most home users need. The additional ram is for gamers, enthusiasts, or for people who got vista sold to them at the store.I have put together a relay small machine with 512MB of memory for my family that mainly need if for browsing and communicating and no one complains and even when I need to use it from time to time I can see how smooth it works.


    Antivirus thrashes that 512mb bad and sure xp started with the ability to run with 512 or less but with every service pack adding up on system resources it is not the same for today.

    The other thing is everyone uses DDR2 atleast today and with prices so low, why the hell are we even talking about 512mb?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2009 7:57 AM
    Another point to point out with windows x64, it wastes a heck of a lot more space since it has to generate the 32bit dlls and other necessary files to emulate 32bit apps.
  • 10 Hide
    apache_lives , June 16, 2009 8:25 AM
    ArticleIsWayOffFreakinAnother point to point out with windows x64, it wastes a heck of a lot more space since it has to generate the 32bit dlls and other necessary files to emulate 32bit apps.


    its not as if we still use 20gb hdd's anymore
  • -4 Hide
    adbat , June 16, 2009 9:03 AM
    Well apache_lives i run XP with SP3 and latest patches I also use Avast and system after sprat uses about 300MB+ that leaves plenty of space for a browser and some IM. Original installation of XP took below 200MB and what changed - they included a firewall and bunch of other software that I do not use and often turn off.
    And putting that PC together cost me about 40zł(10$) an upgrade of memory - it had 256. (It is an old laptop).
    And yet again if you what to play games or do intensive work you do need more (but not much more).
  • -4 Hide
    JimmiG , June 16, 2009 10:30 AM
    My netbook runs XP fine with 512MB. I wouldn't think of installing Vista or Win7 as they are real memory hogs compared to XP... but for XP, Live Messenger, Live Mail and a bunch of Firefox windows, 512MB is more than enough. 512MB was considered the "sweet spot" when XP was fairly new.

    On my main rig, I encountered a few issues when switching to 64-bit:

    -Buggy AMD AHCI drivers (was eventually fixed)

    -No drivers for my M-Audio Delta sound card (had to download a leaked, private beta). This private beta has now been re-released as a public beta and works OK. Still no supported 64-bit drivers though.

    -Hibernation mode caused total data loss (due to a bug in the BIOS of the Asus M3A32-MVP motherboard. Supposedly fixed with a newer BIOS though I still leave hibernation disabled)

    -Some software that relies on virtual device drivers need me to press F8 at startup and disable the signing requirement
  • 12 Hide
    scook9 , June 16, 2009 11:59 AM
    I personally am tired of hearing people complain about how much of a "hog" Vista and Windows 7 are. You know, people complained a lot too when Microsoft added the little animation for while you are copying files, because that would bog down a system as well - and guess what, the world moved on and hardware got cheaper so this was a non issue. If you want a super efficient and streamlined system, then run an ancient OS on modern hardware, you will be wowed by how little resources it uses (and how much compatibility you lose) OR you can just shut up buy some memory because it is dirt cheap and use the new OS, like the rest of the world.

    Hardware and software companies acknowledge that new OS's are the standard to meet, this is why features like Quad SLI are reserved for Vista only and not XP. It is called progress, get out of the way.
  • 4 Hide
    chripuck , June 16, 2009 12:41 PM
    adbatI strongly do not agree with this - this drives the PC market to insane chase after MORE.I believe that home or office PC do not require 1GB 512 MB i sufficient for XP+office 2003 or XP+browser witch is what most home users need. The additional ram is for gamers, enthusiasts, or for people who got vista sold to them at the store.I have put together a relay small machine with 512MB of memory for my family that mainly need if for browsing and communicating and no one complains and even when I need to use it from time to time I can see how smooth it works.


    Congratulations, you have enough memory for a legacy OS. Microsoft is moving on, Win 7 is coming soon and they've already started on Win 8. 512 will not be enough.
  • 11 Hide
    chripuck , June 16, 2009 12:43 PM
    OsisI am sorry, but how did this "review" made it so far and got published? First of all - it is plainly incomplete article about Windows. As far as i know, there are other operating systems that facilitate AMD64 architecture, some are have much older support for that. Then why put title so general, when this is just few bits and peaces about Windows?In essence i could summarize this article in two sentences from author standpoint - 64bit OS gives you ability to use more RAM and you will run in driver problems. If you are freak, you are using 64bit OS.I had expected better quality of articles.Points to work on - Is Windows Vista only OS that supports 64 bit CPUs? what problems have other OSes? Does every OS that supports 64 bits have to have "Compatibility mode" or that is just one name from some obscure proprietary OS? What about applications that could effectively use more than 2GB per application? For example, Mac OS X 10.5 is fully 64 bit operating system and it supports all the hardware your laptop might have, so where is the problem using it? Or should users dump that OS and hardware altogether? What about those few vendors that supply notebooks with Linux? those can use 64bit os too, driver problem, that is general in Linux community due to lack of drivers altogether, so no difference compared to standard 32bit kernel.


    Maybe it's entirely pointed at Windows becuase 95+% of the people on this site run Windows? The predominant population of this site plays games, and unless you're a masochist (sarcasm), you don't try to game on Linux... and we all know how good Mac's are for gaming.

    Not saying people don't dual boot, but if you want to game, you almost have to run Windows.
  • 2 Hide
    mapesdhs , June 16, 2009 12:48 PM

    Alternative: don't use Windows. I'm sure many use some variant of Linux. I use IRIX
    (properly 64bit since 1994), which does everything I need of an OS for daily-tasks
    use, except for those things where a PC makes a lot more sense (eg. games and video
    encoding), thus I also have an AMD 6000+/8800GT PC currently running XP Pro 32bit,
    and will probably build an i7 920 system late summer for video processing.

    Others use Solaris, HP-UX, etc. There are plenty of choices. The right tool for the
    job is what matters. This article's flaw is assuming the only available tool is
    Windows.

    However, sometimes Windows is the only choice, eg. if an application is not
    available or no longer supported on other platforms. If that's the case, then
    just endure the pain. :}

    Ian.

  • 3 Hide
    xaira , June 16, 2009 12:56 PM
    wen i upgraded to 64 bit the only thing that was incompatible was my tv card: solution: get one that supports x64
  • -5 Hide
    rundll32 , June 16, 2009 1:47 PM
    Few notes.

    1. Does 4GB memory stop Windows using SWAP? At least XP seems to continue to swap though there is empty space in memory. I always turn of SWAP.

    2. I don't quite get it. In 32-bit version if the system uses say 0,9 GB of memory and the rest stays in my use (the famous 3,1GB), so where's the problem? Where's the missused memory?

    3. I'm not sure about this but I read somewhere that video card memory doesn't cause mappings in the system memory with the same extend what the VC memory's size is. It means that 1GB VC memory doesn't cut down your system memory by 1GB.

    4. XP works just fine with 1GB memory and so does Win7 with 2GB.

    5. There was not so long ago a test here in TH which compared 3, 6 and 12GB memory sets. Test pointed out that there is only a minimal performance gain with 12GB over 3GB.

    6. There is also some kind of safety benefit when using a 64-bit version. Can't remember any details, sorry.

    7. There are still 16-bit installation programs which won't work with a 64-bit system.

    8. If you buy a pre-installed 64-bit notebook there shouldn't be any problems, right?

    9. Instead of investing $25 to an extra 2GB memory buy a better processor with that same money and you get a better performance results.
  • 2 Hide
    raptor550 , June 16, 2009 2:10 PM
    Anyone who says there is no difference from 1-2gb and 6-12gb is just a poor sap who hasn't upgraded yet. I bought 8gb for $100, why would I get anything else? There is no need for a better processor, the two bottlenecks are going to be first your HDD then your RAM. By disabling page file you save a serious slow down. Many people may not realize, but 7 and Vista use a lot of memory, if you only have 1gb then it will only allocated a portion of that and the rest to HDD which is considerably slower. Try using 8gb and having 7 take up 1gb on startup, watch it fly.
  • 9 Hide
    mapesdhs , June 16, 2009 2:13 PM

    The real joke is the way Windows uses any virtual memory on disk _at all_ when
    there's still plenty of proper RAM available. I've never understood why Windows
    is written to do this, seems daft to me. Virtual memory should only be used if
    real memory is running out.

    Ian.

  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , June 16, 2009 2:32 PM
    Quote:
    ...making RAID setups the most difficult situation today: if you exceed 2 TB, you will not be able to boot from your array.

    I ran into this about 6 months ago. It took me two days to figure out why Vista wasn't recognizing my array as "acceptable" (I can't remember the exact wording) for installation. All I did was create an 80GB array and the rest of the 4TB another array. That worked for me but was a pain to figure out "why" Vista didn't like the full 4TB array.
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