The 64bit Bait



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8 June 2005 | 0

64bit Computing has truly arrived with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 x64. The next version of Windows too, Longhorn, will contain both 32bit and 64bit applications. With a projected ten year lifespan for Longhorn and 64bit chips on the market for some time now, the question arises regarding when and how the move should be made to 64bit.

Rakesh Kumar of analysts Gartner says ‘Users are requiring more power and memory and 64bit will help.’ Database applications are one area where the power of 64bit processing is expected to pay dividends, but there are others. John Collins of analyst Quocirca commented ‘There are application areas that can benefit from the extra performance and scalability of 64bit computing, such as business intelligence, analytics and high throughput transactional environments.’




With both Intel and AMD offering 64bit chips, now with multi core processors, 64bit power is available in easily scalable units. Companies need to examine how best to implement 64bit hardware to best serve their needs. Kumar of Gartner said ‘Firms need to be driven by their applications needs’. Collins too urges caution in the adoption of 64bit, “I would be concerned by issues of integration with existing environment, centralised management and application integration.”

The flexibility of the 64bit architecture may go some way toward alleviating such concerns as the current offerings already begin to eclipse previous 64bit stalwarts. Sun recently announced a new Sun Grid Rack System which leverages the multi core capabilities of the AMD Opteron to allow the grid to accept processing tasks via network connections and to pass the results back to a centralised management system. This system provides an alternative to expensive multi-processor servers or mainframes.

The fact that this new Sun offering is based on the Opteron primarily, though Sparc versions can be had if asked for, reflect the fact that a single platform can now run Linux, UNIX or Windows allowing for economies to be made.

Lisa Sieker, Vice President of Marketing for Sun, said that Oracle, Siebel, Computer Associates, EMC and IBM were testing applications for use with Solaris x64, for which more than 1 million licenses were registered from January to March, and that they should start shipping shortly.


Despite the benefits of power, scalability and flexibility, Kumar suggests that companies should ask vendors for the experiences of customers who have already implemented 64bit computing. In urging caution amid the rising tide of adoption, he summed up the question by saying that companies need to ask themselves ‘How long can I delay [ugrading]?’

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