Home > OS News > The 64-bit Desktop Situation Analyzed The 64-bit Desktop Situation Analyzed Eugenia Loli 2004-08-01 OS News 35 Comments Peter N. Glaskowsky of Electronic Business weighs in the situation in the 64-bit desktop market and analyzes of how consumers will finally buy in. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 35 Comments 2004-08-01 7:12 am Since Redhat, and now Novell/Suse have decidededly taken steps toward a unified desktop (KDE+GNOME?), a usable 64-bit linux desktop may actually happen before either windows or os x are able to make the transition successfully. 2004-08-01 7:38 am I’m a heavy Linux user but I see that there enormous amount of Windows 32bit desktops is leverage enough to buy MS a lot of time before they move out the 64 bit desktops. It will take a long time for most businesses to migrate and this period of time is likely to be much longer than the MS release cycle. I also think that at first it will be difficult to see the advantages of going to 64-bit for most tasks but we will several years (say 4-5) down the track be running a lot of powerful software that is 64-bit only and we won’t look back. In the meantime we will see 64 explode and become dominent in the medium (end and above) serverspace for both Windows and Linux. Later it will get to the point where many consumers will only buy systems that are 64-bit even if they don’t know what that actually means. 64-bit will also likely be driven by consumers into high end gaming when games that take advantage of 64 bits starts hitting the market. 2004-08-01 7:39 am Maybe when Windows 64bit is for sale? It isn’t a technical issue. 2004-08-01 7:44 am GNU/Linux for AMD64 uses the “LLP64 model”. 32-bit apps will run “as-is” on 64-bit systems. Micro$haft didn’t invent anything here, in fact they are lagging behind GNU/Linux by a few years. A 64-bit CPU, mainboard and boxed copy of Mandrake 64 10.0 cost less than $400. Or if you want to recompile your own you can install Gentoo for AMD64. In both cases you get exactly the same desktop as the 32-bit versions. I assume the author of the article has never even tested a GNU/Linux 64-bit desktop machine. Writing about things one does not know leads to mistakes. 2004-08-01 7:48 am The average user will ‘migrate’ to 64-bit only if Dell, HP, etc. sell PCs with 64-bit OSs pre-installed. 2004-08-01 7:58 am Currently there isn’t an advantage for the home user to switch to 64-bit computing. 64-Bit won’t significantly affect emailing and web browsing (the average users needs). The only reason i would purposely buy a 64-bit machine for home use is for gaming purposes. I have owned 64-bit computers(Alpha,PA-RISC and SPARC) for years now and still primarily use my good old 32-bit PC for most of my computing needs. 2004-08-01 8:40 am He does have some questionable facts – AFAIK NTFS is not being replaced, WinFS is sitting on top of it 2004-08-01 9:19 am Did he forget about AMD64? Opteron chips sell way better than Itanium ones. And Athlon64 is present in desktop market. 2004-08-01 10:33 am A lot more powerful or a lot more bloated ? Why do sectaries need to be running 64 bit computers at multi gigahertz ranges if all they do is type up reports, letters, and other crap ? I have no doubt that in other areas they will be needed but in most areas that common folks use computers 32 bits is enough for most of their needs. 2004-08-01 10:59 am Will changing to a 64-bit machine with a 64-bit OS actually make a noticeable difference? I can’t see why it would — and I doubt there will be a significant improvement in performance (certainly not at the desktop level). 2004-08-01 11:42 am Did I miss something? People already run 64-bit Linux desktops today! And have been for months at that. It’s a pretty shallow article. 2004-08-01 1:14 pm Maybe I’m missing something (which is entirely possible as I’m very much a n00b) but according to this: http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/base/amd64/technotes.xml?part=2&chap=… You need to compile 32bit emulation libraries. I own a dual opteron system running 64 bit Gentoo. My experiences so far have been positive (seems stable enough and the forums as always are great) though it’s a pain waiting for more stuff to be available for 64 bit. I have not implemented the 32bit emulation subsystem however so cannot comment about that. As an aside I’m not really familiar/comfortable enough with the internals of the portage system or Linux in general to be a contributor but I’m working on it! 2004-08-01 1:32 pm the article sounds like it was written by a finance guy reporting to the ceo. worthless, ignorant, lacking any insight or depth. 2004-08-01 1:39 pm Why is everyone praising Linux for 64 bit like they invented it when in fact 64 bit chips and OS’s have been out longer than Linux? Damn sheep with their new buzzwords (linux). 2004-08-01 2:41 pm Why? – That’s why: Because now 64 Bit can be had by everybody who can afford a Shuttle bare bone, which isn’t exactly outrageous much. I don’t care whether the NASA had 64 Bit 20 years ago, the point about Linux is not buzz-words but availability + affordability – surprised?! 2004-08-01 3:54 pm A lot more powerful or a lot more bloated? Why do sectaries need to be running 64 bit computers at multi gigahertz ranges if all they do is type up reports, letters, and other crap? You could say the exact same thing about 32 bit machines. Since it seems to be stupid argument day, perhaps you’re just bitter because you’re not old enough to have complained about 32 bit machines being too powerful for what the typical office user does? Why are you so dead set against making an empowering technology a commodity? 2004-08-01 3:58 pm Since driver support for 32-bit Windows on 64-bit hardware is not guaranteed, most people buying hardware will be faced with a need for a new copy of Windows at full retail cost, unless they buy an OEM preinstall. I’d only consider building myself a 64-bit box when I could buy a low-cost upgrade from Windows XP 32-bit edition to the 64-bit edition. If anything, I’d be more likely to buy an Apple 64-bit machine in the knowledge that drivers would be available, albeit there may be a considerable wait for a fully 64-bit edition of the operating system. (Is WinXP64 a fully 64-bit compiled OS or is it the 32-bit edition with extensions to allow for a larger address range?) 2004-08-01 4:07 pm How will a 64 bit cpu empower anyone who types up reports for living ? Please specifically explain how a 64 bit cpu will help secretaries get work done better and faster then they are already doing now on a 1 ghz 32 bit machine if all they are doing is emailing, word-processing, doing spreadsheets and other tasks that don’t even stress a 32 bit 1 gigahertz cpu with 512 megs of ram ? About the only way I can see that a 64 bit cpu can help them is if the office apps they you use somehow become extremely bloated in every aspect imaginable. 2004-08-01 4:15 pm This guy talks about developers transitioning from 32-bit to 64-bit and how Microsoft helped them in the 16-bit to 32-bit transition. I think he’s forgetting that the number of developers doing 64-bit for windows now and the near future is very small and the future (in the windows world at least) is a managed world where these 32-bit to 64-bit transition issues aren’t as much of a problem. 2004-08-01 4:22 pm “The server platforms have been reasonably successful, but the 64-bit version of Windows XP is not finding many customers.” I was under the impression ( http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=7830 ) that this had not been released past the beta stage. This might explain some of the slow uptake of 64 bit Windows on the desktop. 2004-08-01 4:27 pm How will a 64 bit cpu empower anyone who types up reports for living ? >> Dood. Who gives a shizznit? I mean, 16 bit CPUs handle all of this stuff just fine, so why aren’t we all on 16 bit CPUs? I mean, right now, I’m nowhere near tapping out what this G3 600 can do, and I’ve yet to give my Dual 867s a screaming workout; does this mean I don’t “deserve” them? (I don’t run my Integra GSR in the 6000+ rpm range [where the vtec kicks in] that often. Does that mean I should only have a Geo Metro? I mean, I’m certainly not using all those horses all the time, right?) 2004-08-01 5:07 pm “You need to compile 32bit emulation libraries” This needs clarification. Yes, 32-bit libraries are needed for 32-bit code, and 64-bit libraries for 64-bit code. There’s no “emulation” going-on, though. Gentoo offers the choice of installing the 32-bit libraries (which you need to compile yourself, just like the rest of Gentoo) because you may choose to only run “pure” 64-bit code – in this case no 32-bit libraries need to be installed, because they won’t be used anyways. Mandrakelinux and SuSE for AMD64 both install both sets of libraries by default, giving you full compatibility with 64-bit code AND 32-bit legacy code running NATIVELY: there’s no emulation going on. BTW, the LLP64 vs. LP64 that the author of the article makes a fuss about is a slightly distinct issue, and is more related to the Itanium. As somebody else remarked, the author is mistaken/misleading on various technical issues. 2004-08-01 5:10 pm I don’t see the need for 64bit address on desktop(now). Desktop applications hardly use more than 1GB ram. Sure workstations and servers need the extra addressing space, but who care about windows/desktops on those areas anyway. I am sticking with *nix if 64bitness is concerned. 2004-08-01 6:28 pm You have not answered my question at all. In the real world where people work for a living and they have to explain why they need to spend the companies cash on a new 64-bit computers your response would get you fired in a heart beat. 2004-08-01 7:02 pm It will start on high end gaming machines mostly, 64 bit is a cool buzzword and will sell expensive computers. Both Intel and AMD introduce features in the high end and they trickle down through the low end processors as time goes on. Eventually even the Celeron will be 64 bit, and at that time, the secretary will be running native 64 bit too. The transition will be slow till the release of Longhorn. 2004-08-01 7:12 pm > Dood. Who gives a shizznit? I mean, 16 bit CPUs handle all of this stuff just fine, so why aren’t we all on 16 bit CPUs? Last time that I used a computer with 640K of memory, there was no web browsing, the windowing system was crude, and I could only run one application at a time. 2004-08-01 7:17 pm In some specific areas and for specific uses, 64-bit computing is a real plus: scientific, large databases, etc. For the desktop, 64-bit has no inherent overwhelming advantage, but the fact is that the 32-bit x86 processor architecture and ISA are limited in many ways. The AMD64 implementation of 64-bit presents, in this special case, a real advantage for desktop computing, because one gets full 32-bit compatibility, excellent performance and a clear path to better, more advanced processors in the future. So, from a purely technical point of view, AMD64 is better than x86, even for desktop PC use. 2004-08-01 7:43 pm Sure workstations and servers need the extra addressing space, but who care about windows/desktops on those areas anyway. This statement doesn’t make any sense to me. Are you saying that workstation users don’t need graphical desktops? Most workstation apps require GUIs. 2004-08-01 7:48 pm You have not answered my question at all. In the real world where people work for a living and they have to explain why they need to spend the companies cash on a new 64-bit computers your response would get you fired in a heart beat.>> Look dood, since the the 64 bit desktop workstations on the market right now pretty much cost what the machines they replaced cost, you’re missing the point. In a year or so, the prices will be the same. Do I need 64 bits in my job? No. But in a year or 3, it’s all I’m going to be able to buy. Hell, if I want to replace my PowerMac with another PowerMac, I have a single non 64 bit choice. If I want to replace it with a machine that cost the same as this machine when bought new, then I’m looking at a g5 box. At work right now, since there is no 64bit OS that runs natively the programs we need to run (Omni Page, Fine Text, Dreamweaver, Adobe CS … etc), I’d say we’re fine with what we have. But I can guarantee you that in 4 years when my desktop workstation is replaced, it will have a 64 bit processor and will run a 64 bit OS. (Now if I could just convince my Systems staff to let me get a PowerMac…) You can’t stop innovation or progress so stop tilting at windmills. 2004-08-01 7:54 pm Last time that I used a computer with 640K of memory, there was no web browsing, the windowing system was crude, and I could only run one application at a time. >> But hey, that’s all you need to type reports, right? And it can certainly handle email. IIRC, the 16 bit 16k processors weren’t hobbled by the 640k barrier (I could be wrong) and System 7 would let you have (gasp!) more than one program open at at time. But it’s been over 10 years since I used one. 2004-08-01 8:20 pm The biggest thing he doesn’t hit on is the lack of applications that are 64bit capable. The AMD64 runs 32bit programs, but as far as I know the Itanium does not, I may be wrong there though. Until the common applications people use support 64bit, there is no reason to switch. 2004-08-01 11:41 pm When Apple debuted the Power Mac G5, it called it “the world’s first 64-bit personal computer.” True, the G5 is capable of 64-bit processing, but Mac OS X lacks 64-bit addressing and programs are currently limited to data structures about 4 gigabytes in size. Apple recently removed this limit when it announced that “Tiger,” Mac OS X version 10.4, due next year, will support 64-bit addressing. I stopped reading right there, because that simply isn’t true. 2004-08-02 3:11 am > But hey, that’s all you need to type reports, right? And it can certainly handle email. Your thinking will keep you stuck in the decade before last. One can argue that a pencil and paper is all that’s needed to write a report. See, MHz and bit counting isn’t so much about speed as it’s about richness and quality of experience. My “reports” from 15 years ago don’t resemble the ones that I write today. Much less, the way that I write and research is different today than it was 15 years ago. Word Processing, email functions were allowed on 16 bit platforms, but definitely not in the way that I use them now. Arguably, there are plenty of 16 bit computers circulating today and they get plenty of use for their specific application (cash registers, network terminals), but for personal computing, 32bit was a big change and I doubt that you’ll be satisfied with going back. It allowed for huge changes in the way that we worked. While I’m not running out and buying an Opteron tomorrow, I won’t discount the pervasive need for 64bit computing yet. Incidentally, you should follow the rules of entering subject header. 2004-08-02 3:56 am Apple recently removed this limit when it announced that “Tiger,” Mac OS X version 10.4, due next year, will support 64-bit addressing. I stopped reading right there, because that simply isn’t true. That’s right. It’s due out THIS year, not next year. Dude, check around. 10.4 will allow 64bit addressing to go along with the 64bit operations already allowed by current versions of OSX. 2004-08-02 10:00 am By Rayiner Hashem (IP: —.dc.dc.cox.net) – Posted on 2004-08-01 19:43:20 This statement doesn’t make any sense to me. Are you saying that workstation users don’t need graphical desktops? Most workstation apps require GUIs. I think you mixed up “Desktop” and “GUI” “Desktop” is a term that means a GUI for ID107s. Desktops are generic purposed and are meant to easy to use. Easy to use always equates to inflexibility. Workstations are usually fix-functioned. Workstation users are educated. Easy to use is not a requirement. Power and flexiblity are what needed there. Sure most workstations have a GUI, but you won’t call them desktop as a result.