What is the Point to 64-bit Processors?

Last year, I found out I was getting a new laptop for Christmas. Since the beans had been spilled, my wife took my input into what would be the best laptop to get for me. I took into account portability, power, and price, and came up with the Compaq Presario v2414. One of the reasons I wanted this particular model was for the AMD Turion 64-bit processor. I figured that sooner or later, there would be a move to 64-bit software and by having the hardware to run 64-bit, I might be able to make that laptop useful for a longer period of time.

I can’t say that to date I have done a lot of research into 64-bit computing. I read somewhere that you can process video and work with graphics better. The first 64-bit offering I tried was SuSE Linux 10.1. I put in the CD and installed onto another partition, but some files didn’t install correctly, I got a lot of error warnings, and when the OS booted for the first time, I saw that a high enough run level could not be achieved to run the GUI. I wasn’t about to spend the time using Linux entirely from a command line, so I removed the installation and restored my Windows XP Boot Manager.

One day I got the idea to try the Windows XP Pro 64-bit trial edition. I downloaded and burned the DVD and installed. I had a heck of a time finding a graphics driver, and my widescreen laptop looked funny in 1024×768 resolution. Once I got the graphics working right, I had to find a wireless driver. Fortunately, Windows Update found this for me automatically. I soon learned that sound would not be working on this installation.

Shortly after this, Windows Vista RC1 was released, so I downloaded the 64-bit install CD and installed Vista over XP Pro. I was able to get a sound driver working, but basically I installed every 64 bit sound driver I could find and kept installing them until something took. Windows Vista has a driver signing protection, and being experimental you are not going to find a signed audio driver for a 64-bit experimental OS, so you have to manually disable the driver signing protection at EVERY STARTUP but going into F8 prior to boot up.

By this weekend, I was ready to scrap Vista, but after talking to a friend I realized that I could go back to the 32-bit Vista, which I did.

It’s nice to have working audio. I’m starting to see 64-bit processors as the modern day USB. USB started showing up on every device one day, most of us didn’t know what to do with it, there were no devices for it, and then we turned around and found it to be in widespread use but we were stuck with parallel printers and scanners that we bought because we didn’t understand the point to USB.


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