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Gaming In 64-Bit: Tom's Tests, Microsoft Weighs In

Grand Theft Auto 4

We’ve received a number of requests to add Grand Theft Auto 4 to our benchmark suite, and this is the game’s first run through—and possibly its last. We said it before, back when we were encouraged by Nvidia to look at Dead Space, but ports to the PC from console platforms suffer from inexcusably horrible configuration options and user interface control. Don’t even get me started on the mandatory Social Club app that wants to continuously run in the background.

In a recent patch, Rockstar fixed some of what had originally ailed Grand Theft Auto, adding a finer level of control over the graphics settings and an option to disable vsync. However, the game still uses its own rendering pipeline, which doesn’t include anti-aliasing. That might be fine from 10 feet away on your TV, but it’s painfully obvious on a high-res monitor. For the sake of completeness, we forced anti-aliasing in Nvidia’s driver panel, but rest assured that you get no visual return on the investment of graphics horsepower.

If this is a title you’d really like to see maintained as a benchmark, let us know in the comments section. Otherwise, it’ll likely go the way of Dead Space.

Go figure. Despite all of our disdain for this as a test, it actually yields some interesting numbers—some of which are interesting for the wrong reason.

First and foremost, the retail packaging for Grand Theft Auto 4 mentions optimizations for multi-core processors and 64-bit computing. Well, if the two 3 GB configurations tell us anything, it’s that shifting to 64-bit actually hurts performance, rather than helping it. Not promising. And we'd certainly like some sort of clarification of what is meant by 64-bit optimization.

However, the addition of 3 GB more gives the 64-bit configuration a notable advantage at both tested resolutions. Finally, we begin to see extra memory yielding gains. The ironic thing is that 64-bit technology is less about “going faster,” as Chuck said, and more about enabling new scenarios. The irony is that the graphic detail in this console port isn’t exactly groundbreaking, yet it’s pushing our system harder that more notorious titles like Crysis.

  • salsoolo
    i went 64-bit from last year. i hope that game devs go 64-bit. and every programmer too.

    with Windows 7 around the corner, m$ already said that they expect the majority of windows installations will be 64.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    "Given the very known nature of these virtual address space limitations, you’d think that game developers would be taking a more hurried approach to making the transition."

    This mainly has to do with resources. Most developers use the same engine they've built or bought for a span of many years. Take bioware, for instance, who used the Auroa engine for 9+ years, knowing that it was limited to single threads and low memory.
    To switch to 64-bit, these developers would have to take the time not just to modify their existing engines, but more likely rewrite the entire engine because of the changes involved. Something that some developers just cant afford.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    Oh, and deffinately drop GTA. None of the GTA or games that use the GTA engine have ever been any good on PC, and have never been consistant in indicating graphics performance due to their poorly developed and optimized code. It's a waste of time.
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    I say the benefit of having full access to 8GB of DDR2 is enough to make me switch to 64 bit. Not using a Page File and being able to use native 64 bit programs like those found in CS4, is worth it enough. The advantage of being able to execute native 64 bit instructions is absolutely heavenly powerful speed boost(CS3 vs CS4).
    Reply
  • spearhead
    indeed 64-bit is good and you can see that in games and applications which take advantage from it. it might require a bit more ram but then 64-bit can handle more applications running at the same time and execution of those applications seems to be alot faster that is what i can tell from my experience with 64-bit vista
    Reply
  • nathanlh
    One of the reasons that x64 games might run slower on 3GB of system memory than their x86 counterpart is that x64 code should be somewhat larger due to the 64 bit addressing itself. If the x86 code is already feeling the squeeze on 3GB, the x64 code will be even more so - resulting in more memory swapping to disk. Also, one of the benefits of x64 code is the use of more general purpose registers which the x64 games tested here might not have made use of.
    Reply
  • Chris - could you check the same thing on AMD platform? AFAIK there are some performance differencies between AMD and Intel @ 64bit
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    ^ There were some on Linux with the Athlon 64 and Pentium 4. Gap has really closed tho, I'd say.
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    heh we forget the main concepts here with 64-bit:

    NO ONE uses a system with nothing bar windows a single game installed - they have a few security apps, torrent apps, messenger, keyboard/mouse apps etc - they all sap up resources, so 64 bit gives all apps all the memory they need - for example 8gb is useless to a 32-bit app, but when you got that hungry game ASWELL as a hungry background app etc they both get the full amount of memory!

    Also lessens the "thrashing" effect on HDD's and helps there lifespan etc


    As for why there arnt any benifits for 64 bit games etc - there all still native 32-bit because all those morons still think there 2gb and XP is "sufficent and up to date" - move to 64-bit so we can all benifit!
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    ^ +1

    We should all be 64 bit.

    Those who play hardcore games should have at least a x64 proc.

    So, devs should make 64bit games simply.

    The world will transition in due time.

    We just are at the frontier.
    Reply