Windows Tip Sheet

Talkin' 'Bout My 64-Bit Generation

Get ready for another paradigm shift, thanks to Intel, AMD and Microsoft.

It’s time to get on the 64-bit bandwagon, and I don’t mean Intel Itanium’s either (of which its development partner, HP, has jumped off after the processor family’s years of miserable sales). I’m talking about x64, or what Intel calls EM64T and AMD calls AMD64. Call it whatever you want, your next computer will be 64-bit.

The x64 architecture basically builds on the x86 32-bit architecture we’ve been using since, what, 1988? That means x64 processors natively understand and run 32-bit code as if those applications were running on pure 32-bit machines. This means they won’t be running in slow emulation mode (like the WOW64 emulation layer implemented by 64-bit Windows for Itanium processors). In fact, AMD Athlon 64 chips have been currying around under your nose running 32-bit Windows for years now.

Microsoft has introduced a version of Windows compiled for x64, which means it’s a fully 64-bit version of Windows that just happens to run 32-bit apps flawlessly, and it just happens to support terabytes of installed RAM. Seriously. The folks at Microsoft are starting to deal with performance-tuning issues that haven’t even been thought of, simply because the x64 architecture practically eliminates a lot of the wonderful bottlenecks we’re all too painfully familiar with.

So, here’s my tip to you: Make every computer purchase from now on one with an x64-compatible chip. Whether AMD or Intel, make sure it’s 64-bit. That way when 64-bit Windows is available you can just upgrade and you’ll start getting better performance (of course, replacing all your apps with 64-bit versions won’t hurt, either). And think about this: With four to five years between Windows releases, it’s not farfetched to imagine that Longhorn will be the last version of Windows to support the 32-bit architecture (which Longhorn will definitely do, by the way). A 64-bit purchase today is really an investment in tomorrow.

Cool Gadget
Dish Player-DVR 522
[Click on image for larger view.]
Record up to 100 hours of Jerry Springer on Dish Network’s Dish Player-DVR 522’s 120GB hard drive.
We don’t have cable where I live (don’t ask why), so I rely on satellite for my daily dose of Jerry Springer and other quality programming. And, being a geek, I want a fully video-enabled home. While satellite provider VOOM has been promising a solution for some time, Dish Network has one: the Dish Player-DVR 522 receiver. It’s a dual-tuner TiVo-like device which can record shows. But it can actually pump out two different video signals, so you can watch two programs in different rooms of the house. It even comes with an IR remote for the room where the receiver is, and a radio remote to use in the other room. Mega cool.

More Resources:

  • Start reading up on x64 Windows here.
  • Read about WinXP Pro for x64 here.
  • Reading Microsoft employee blogs can be incredibly informative. Here’s one on x64.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.

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