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2 min read

“World’s first” academic paper on 64-bit computing

I can’t substantiate the “world’s first” claim, but I was interested to read Victor’s academic paper on 64-bit computing. Victor hails from the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton (UK), and his research paper is focused on the transition from x86-32bit to x86-64bit, and the impact of dual-core.

Victor’s research won’t elicit “ah-ha” reactions from any one who follows 64-bit computing, but he appears to have done his work. His quantitative tests are generally in-line with results we’ve seen in our labs. Windows x64 can boost the performance of 32-bit apps (running on x64 hardware) in some instances, but the big performance boost is realized using 64bit apps. Victor rightly points to the limited selection (compared to 32bit) of apps/drivers for x64. Here’s a summary of Victor’s research conclusion:

Comprehensive testing results reveal that 64-bit computing has a better performance in application performance, system performance and stress testing, but a worse performance in compatibility testing than the traditional 32-bit computing. A 64-bit dual-core processor has been tested and the results show that it performs better than a 64-bit single-core processor, but only in application that requires very high demands of CPU and memory consumption.

Victor’s research also includes qualitative survey results, to include viewpoints on the implications of 64bit computing. Here’s what he wrote:

(1) Why 64-bit computing should be used?: There must be distinctive reasons for going into 64-bit computing, and three of which include (a) providing high computing power; (b) running applications that require high consumptions of CPU and memory and (c) preparing for next-generation computing.

(2) Is 64-computing better than 32-bit computing?: At this stage, it is difficult to judge the winner, because each has its own distinctive advantages. The current disadvantages that 64-bit computing have, are largely related to unsupported drivers, platforms and software, thus making its performance lower than the expectations. However in the next few years, the situation will be changed.

(3) Stability issues: 80% of the system administrators think that current 64-bit operating systems are unstable, thus not recommending any uses. However, one of them suggested that the “Gentoo” Linux is the most stable 64-bit OS and the preliminary testing results favoured this. In fact and in reality the “stability” concern is the combination of troubleshooting and usability issues: Even if with successful troubleshooting, it is difficult to justify in what ways the 64-bit OS can perform the better tasks.

Amen to #1.

With #2, it’s not a horse race here, Victor. The Itanium and x86-32bit model sets up a horse race, but not so with x86-64bit.

As for #3, most issues I hear are tied to the limitations noted in #2. When customers sort out those issues, you get stable apps. For instance, check out Nasa World Wind, which is running AMD 64-bit Windows servers and .NET-based smart client.