- Editorial: What do 64bit processors do? by Saeed Amen
whole concept of 64bit computers for desktop users is in very much
in the news at the moment. We have from AMD the 64 and from Apple
the G5 (although the processor itself was jointly developed with
IBM). We have had 64bit processors for servers (for example Intel's
Itanium), but it is only now that processors aimed at desktop machines
have become available.
benefits of 64bit processors are numerous. They can address far
more memory than 32bit processors (which are limited to 4GB). The
whole architecture can cope with far more data throughput. The main
problem is that to take advantage of the extra speed 32bit applications
need to be optimised. The AMD64 can run 32bit applications, but
to take full advantage you really need to be running 64bit application.
G5 can also run 32bit applications. However, the advantage that
the G5 has, is that its instruction set was designed for the shift
from 32bit to 64bit. However, with some optimisation applications
can still be made to run faster. It is notable that the many 64bit
applications are already out for the G5 such as Mac OSX and also
most of the Adobe programs.
you really want 64bit computing today, but do not really want to
switch to Macs, you could buy an AMD64. However, it might be more
prudent to wait for the 64bit applications. By that time, the price
of 64bit computing will have come down in price.