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  1. #1
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    TOP STORY

    The long wait for 64-bit PC software continues


    By Michael Lasky

    Even though 64-bit PCs have been available for seven years, the promise of 64-bit computing has been delayed by a dearth of 64-bit software.

    The situation is improving — slowly — but many major PC applications remain 32-bit affairs.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/01/28/01 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-20 at 14:51.

  2. #2
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    Adobe Photoshop CS4 ships with both 32 bit and 64 bit code.

  3. #3
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    Photoshop CS4 (which is version 11) ships with both 64 and 32 bit versions and the default install is to install both version. A lot ot the plug-ins are only available for the 32 bit version but the developers, AKVIS being on of the first responders among them, are starting to release their plug-ins for the 64 bit version.

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    Coming from a small software shop where I work at (not that I'm a programmer). They are pushing out the 64bit version just like any other revision, however their are serious system upgrades to build these packages as well. We're just a small software shop with 150 servers or so. Adobe, MS, and the other big shops have a huge upgrade ahead of them and given the economy and the lack of software purchases I do not blame them.
    I also found it very enlightening on the amount of ram required to run 64bit apps. I could imagine flash bringing your system to it's knees just to surf a web page. Seems like people will be running into a wall as far as systems are concerned. Most people at this time have 1-3 gigs of ram on their systems. With a whole system running 64bit apps I could see 8-16Gb turning into the norm.
    Linuxed

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    I think we're several (at least) system upgrade cycles away from the point where 64-bit will gain more than a momentary 8-12% performance increase. This is a "only as good as the weakest link" problem so maybe when we have 64 or 128 cores ripping away, 64 gigs of RAM or solid state drives so fast that they can partiall fill that void and provide enough swap space to smoothly feed the monster intakes...I'm sure it will happen at least for a segment of the market where speed and processing power is never enough, but just for business, surfing, home photography, even home video rendering, which I comfortably already produce at 1080P on my 32-bit system...most of us don't really need to try and kill a fly by imploding the biulding its in all the time.

  6. #6
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    Don't understand the Photoshop issue since CS4 (v11) has shipped as a full 64bit application since day 1! Adobe's other flagship product, Lightroom is also fully 64bit operational, and it makes good use of both the additional memory available,as well support as the newer GPU's (via openGL) to offload CPU work, when possible.
    There is somewhat of a problem in the 3rd party (outside of Adobe's hands) plugins however, since 32bit libraries that the plugins usually run off are not compatible with Photoshop 64, so Adobe automatically installs BOTH the 32 bit and 64bit versions when a 64bit OS is detected. This way owners of 32 bit plugins can still use them while they are waiting for the vendor to update their programs.

  7. #7
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    I think this article may be a "reprint" from 2006 or something?. There is a ton of 64 bit native software out there!. As far as drivers go I have maybe had 1 problem with a printer driver years ago when Windows Xp Pro x64bit editon came out in 2005. Also I would like to let writer of this article know that major retailers have been selling systems pre-loaded with Vista 64 bit for at least 2-2.5 years now. Also I don't really know about having to alocate more than 4GB of ram just to photoshop. Something about that doesn't sound right. Sounds like maybe a programming issue and not a true fact. I'm sure these things can be worked out, it just may take some hard work on the programers side. Also if you look at the first two replies they said Adobe Photoshop does come in a 64 bit version...So if you really had to allocate 4GB just to run its 64 bit version than a lot of people must have a ton of ram installed!!!. Otherwise I'm sure peoples systems would be crashing/freezing a lot!.

    A lot of things in the article just don't add up to me. Who knows, maybe its just me?

  8. #8
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    I agree - must be a reprint...

    I use many 64-bit programs, including Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom.

    Ted

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    I have done 64-bit conversions and I can certainly understand why it is taking so long to see 64-bit software. On poorly written code or old code that was written when 32-bits was the only game in town and nobody thought of the future, you will find int', long's and pointers freely mixed as well as simple integer arithmetic done to calculate new pointers. I lost a lot of hair converting some very old code and at times it was maddening. Even worse were structures that included pointers and those structures were expected to be a certain length. Each pointer in the structure, when converted to 64-bits, adds four additional bytes to the structure and routines had to be developed to handle the discrepancy between structures in 32-bit clients and 64-bit clients.

    In the end, I was successful and the performance gains with 64-bit Windows were worth the effort but I have a deep respect for the problems involved in converting 32-bit applications to 64-bits. Thankfully, applications written against the .NET framework are much easier to convert and in some cases no work is required at all. Most of the problems I have had with .NET involve interop with PInvoke's and Marshaling.

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    "Also, finding 64-bit drivers for your PC's peripherals has been like playing the digital equivalent of "Where's Waldo?" and in many cases, Waldo is nowhere to be found."

    This is simply wrong. I recently upgraded a 3 year old custom hardware PC to W7x64...and had no problems finding 64 bit drivers for the 3 year old peripherals. The author simply recycled an old article for XPx64 from a few years ago.

  11. #11
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    Gee, I don't have that problem with my Linux boxes; why is that?

    I have XP, Vista (MS: you owe me a free upgrade from this POC!) and Win7 running on different boxes. Without the 64 bit software, there's no improvement over the 32 bit versions.

  12. #12
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    I can add something substantive to this.

    We've seen major benefits to using Microsoft SQL Server in a 64-bit environment. SQL Server is available in a full, native 64-bit version and, when coupled with the mandatory 64-bit operating system (the Enterprise versions are recommended here), gains a huge amount of capability due to the extra memory addressing. You have to have the extra memory installed too of course!

    Many client/server systems use this database as their back end data store. The interesting thing is that the 3rd party application vendor often does not support 64-bit in any direct way, at least where most application vendors are in terms of their priority lists and development directions. We've found this this is not a significant hurdle.

    The issue is that the typical interface to SQL Server is via Structured Query Language (SQL) queries. SQL Server processes these in a manner consistent with the architecture of the SQL standard, which is to say that it's a hands-off interface. Therefore the application neither knows nor cares how the queries are processed, it simply waits for a result. That wait cycle can be improved, and greatly improved, by giving SQL Server access to vast pools memory to use as SQL Server sees fit.

    Some will tell you that you don't need 64-bit for this. Alternative technologies like AWE and the 3GB switch exist. Don't believe this nonsense. All the alternatives are hacks, temporary, partial, and deeply flawed workarounds. They are very similar conceptually to the memory hacks that popped up when software was transitioning from 16 to 32-bits. Anyone remember EMM and EMS now?

    64-bit is real, it's here now, and it causes surprisingly few problems in a server environment. On the client side I can understand more caution, but the servers can benefit from this right away.

  13. #13
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    Old, misleading article.
    Over a year and a half ago, I moved my Vista 32bit to Vista 64 bit. Basic system performance was very noticeably better,., at least 25%
    No problem finding 64bit drivers for any of my equipment, including sound card, printer, and video.
    Frame rate in World of Warcraft (a 32bit app), went up 25%
    I'm now running Win7 64bit, which runs even faster.

    I have a matched pair of 2gb mem sticks giving me 4gb --about $65 for high quality memory.
    Most systems, even in Costco, come with 4gb ram and 64bit OS pre-installed.

    IE8 64bit is much, much more stable than the 32bit version. I use it for basic news sites that I keep open all the time. Without flash or silverlight, I'm much less bothered by ads....

    I'm looking forward to 64bit Office--especially Outlook, which I hope will improve its stability.

    Stupidest thing out there is the lack of Silverlight 64bit. It might be its only chance to gain significant market share as long as Flash is not 64bit.

  14. #14
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    I take it that if I install 64 bit Firefox, that I won't be able to use Flash? (Rick Hantz says no 64 bit Flash available). I had thought of installing FF 64 but would need Flash compatibility (32) or native 64 version wouldn't I? (I use FF while browsing and most online news etc is flash vid).

  15. #15
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    Weird column. I've been running 64-bit windows for almost a year (first Vista, now 7), and my main work apps - Photoshop CS4 and AutoCAD 2010 - are both 64-bit. I have 6 GBs of RAM and performance is excellent. Except for one old printer, I've had no driver problems.

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