06-26-2006, 04:47 PM
What about 64-bit computers? Is it time to make the jump? (or perhaps – Since I have to buy a new computer to run Vista anyway, should I make it an X64 PC?)
08-30-2006, 09:16 AM
Note that while I'm an active member of these forums, I'm also a Microsoft employee. These comments are my own, based on my own experience, but may offer better or more accurate insights or observations because of my "day job."
First I'll try to answer your question with another question:
Are your applications ready to run on 64-bit?
I'm a firm believer in using technology to get what you need done. Buying a 64-bit machine that your favorite DAW or plug-ins don't work on might set you back. It also may incent you to learn something new (i.e., a new app, plug-in, etc.) and give you a spark to create more...
There are multiple options for 64-bit Windows computing:
64-bit hardware with a 32-bit OS (runs 32-bit software only)
64-bit hardware with a 64-bit OS (runs 32 or 64 bit software)
64-bit computing offers a huge number of advantages to the audio creation (pro audio) enthusiast. To date (Aug 2006) there are only a few applications that work in "native" 64 bit mode, and I would expect to see announcements from DAW manufacturer's over the coming months as 64-bit machines become more prominent. However, most DAW's run in what is know as 64-bit WOW (run 32-bit apps in a 64 bit OS). You should check with your DAW manufacturer to see if they support X64, or will be supporting it soon.
You should also be careful about plug-ins. You cannot run 32-bit plug-ins in a 64-bit app without some kind of adapter (Cakewalk Sonar ships with one). And adoption is a chicken/egg issue (DAW's first? Plug-ins first?)... If you have plug-ins that are must haves for you, you want to check very carefully before you make the move.
What are some of the advantages? Here are three:
1. In many ways it is more efficient for audio apps. Because of "longer" words and other processor support, most audio apps seem to run more efficiently on 64-bit. That's anecdotal info: I can't point to any specific study but browsing forums like Northern Sounds you will probably find people talking about how their track-counts have improved, CPU usage is lower, etc.
2. Memory 32-bit Windows limits you to 4 Gigabytes of memory, while 64-bit supports more memory than you can currently buy (at any price :)).
3. 64-bit is where the industry is going. As computer component providers clear out their x86 (32-bit) stock, more and more computer manufacturers will ship 64-bit PC's by default.
BTW - It is not possible to buy a 64-bit version of Windows XP "retail" (i.e., at CompUSA), but it is possible to buy it through a computer manufacturer (Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.) or through the smaller computer providers you'll find in cities everywhere. Windows Vista will provide 32 and 64 bit versions for all its flavors, and those WILL be available retail (at least that's what I'm being told).
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