[b] Hey I was wondering if anyone knows about this model of emachine T6528. I am planning purchasing this model in may, but wanted more info on how well 64bit systems run. Right now i have a dell pentium three.
3 replies to this topic
Posted 15 May 2006 - 10:18 PM
64-bit is an adjective used to describe integers, memory addresses or other data units that are at most 64 bits (8 octets) wide, or to describe CPU and ALU architectures based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size.
As of 2004, 64-bit CPUs are common in servers, and have recently been introduced to the (previously 32-bit) mainstream personal computer arena in the form of the AMD64, EM64T, and PowerPC 970 (or "G5") processor architectures.
Although a CPU may be 64-bit internally, its external data bus or address bus may have a different size, either larger or smaller, and the term is often used to describe the size of these buses as well. For instance, many current machines with 32-bit processors use 64-bit buses (e.g. the original Pentium and later CPUs), and may occasionally be referred to as "64-bit" for this reason. The term may also refer to the size of an instruction in the computer's instruction set or to any other item of data (e.g. 64-bit double-precision floating-point quantities are common). Without further qualification, however, a computer architecture described as "64-bit" generally has integer registers that are 64 bits wide and thus directly supports dealing both internally and externally with 64-bit "chunks" of integer data.
* 1 Architectural implications
* 2 Memory limitations
* 3 Timeline
* 4 32 vs 64 bit
* 5 Pros and cons
* 6 64-bit data models
* 7 Current 64-bit processor architectures
* 8 Beyond 64 bits
* 9 Images
* 10 See also
* 11 External links
Registers in a processor are generally divided into three groups: integer, floating point, and other. In all common general purpose processors, only the integer registers are capable of storing pointer values (that is, an address of some data in memory). The non-integer registers cannot be used to store pointers for the purpose of reading or writing to memory, and therefore cannot be used to bypass any memory restrictions imposed by the size of the integer registers.
Nearly all common general purpose processors (with the notable exception of the ARM and most 32-bit MIPS implementations) have integrated floating point hardware, which may or may not use 64 bit registers to hold data for processing. For example, the x86 architecture includes the x87 floating-point instructions which use 8 80-bit registers in a stack configuration; later revisions of x86, and the AMD64 architecture, also include SSE instructions, which use 16 128-bit wide registers. By contrast, the 64-bit Alpha family of processors defines 32 64-bit wide floating point registers in addition to its 32 64-bit wide integer registers.
Most CPUs are currently (c. 2005) designed so that the contents of a single integer register can store the address (location) of any datum in the computer's virtual memory. Therefore, the total number of addresses in the virtual memory the total amount of data the computer can keep in its working area is determined by the width of these registers. Beginning in the 1960s with the IBM System/360, then (amongst many others) the DEC VAX minicomputer in the 1970s, and then with the Intel 80386 in the mid-1980s, a de facto consensus developed that 32 bits was a convenient register size. A 32-bit register meant that 232 addresses, or 4 gigabytes of RAM, could be referenced. At the time these architectures were devised, 4 gigabytes of memory was so far beyond the typical quantities available in installations that this was considered to be enough "headroom" for addressing. 4-gigabyte addresses were considered an appropriate size to work with for another important reason: 4 billion integers are enough to assign unique references to most physically countable things in applications like databases.
However, with the march of time and the continual reductions in the cost of memory (see Moore's Law), by the early 1990s installations with quantities of RAM approaching 4 gigabytes began to appear, and the use of virtual memory spaces exceeding the 4-gigabyte ceiling became desirable for handling certain types of problems. In response, a number of companies began releasing new families of chips with 64-bit architectures, initially for supercomputers and high-end workstation and server machines. 64-bit computing has gradually drifted down to the personal computer desktop, with Apple Computer's PowerMac desktop line as of 2003 using a 64-bit processor (the G5 chip from IBM), and AMD's "AMD64" architecture (cloned by Intel as "EM64T") becoming common in high-end PCs. The emergence of the 64-bit architecture effectively increases the memory ceiling to 264 addresses, equivalent to 17,179,869,184 gigabytes or 16 exabytes of RAM. To put this in perspective, in the days when a mere 4 kB of main memory was commonplace, the maximum memory ceiling of 232 addresses was about 1 million times larger than typical memory configurations. Taking today's standard as 4 GB of main memory (actually, few personal computers have this much), then the difference between today's standard and the 264 limit is a factor of about 4 billion. Most 64-bit consumer PCs on the market today have an artificial limit on the amount of memory they can recognize, because physical constraints make it highly unlikely that one will need support for the full 16 exabyte capacity. Apple's Power Mac G5, for example, can be physically configured with up to 16 gigabytes of memory, and as such there is no need for support beyond that amount. The latest Linux kernel (version 2.6.16) can be compiled with support for up to 64 gigabytes of memory.
* 1991: MIPS Technologies produced the first 64-bit CPU, as the third revision of their MIPS RISC architecture, the R4000. The CPU was commercially available in 1991 and used in SGI graphics workstations starting with the Crimson, running the 64-bit version of the IRIX operating system.
* 1992: Digital Equipment Corporation introduced the DEC Alpha architecture which was born from the PRISM project.
* 1994: Intel announced plans for the 64-bit IA-64 architecture (jointly developed with HP) as a successor to its 32-bit IA-32 processors. A 1998-1999 launch date was targeted.
* 1995: Fujitsu-owned HAL Computer Systems launched workstations based on a 64-bit CPU, HAL's independently designed first generation SPARC64. IBM released 64-bit AS/400 systems, with the upgrade able to convert the operating system, database and applications.
* 1996: Sun and HP released their 64-bit processors, the UltraSPARC and the PA-8000. Sun Solaris, IRIX, and other variants of Unix continued to be common 64-bit operating systems.
* 1997: IBM released their RS64 full 64-bit PowerPC processors.
* 1998: IBM released their POWER3 full 64-bit PowerPC/POWER processors.
* 1999: Intel released the instruction set for the IA-64 architecture. First public disclosure of AMD's set of 64-bit extensions to IA-32 called x86-64.
* 2000: IBM shipped its first 64-bit mainframe, the zSeries z900, and its new z/OS operating system culminating history's biggest 64-bit processor development investment and instantly wiping out 31-bit plug-compatible competitors Fujitsu/Amdahl and Hitachi. 64-bit Linux on zSeries followed almost immediately.
* 2001: Intel finally shipped its 64-bit processor line, now branded Itanium, targeting high-end servers. It fails to meet expectations due to the repeated delays getting IA-64 to market, and becomes a flop. Linux was the first operating system to run on the processor at its release.
* 2002: Intel introduced the Itanium 2 as a successor to the Itanium.
* 2003: AMD brought out its 64-bit Opteron and Athlon 64 processor lines. Apple also shipped 64-bit PowerPC chips courtesy of IBM, along with an update to its Mac OS X operating system. Several Linux distributions released with support for x86-64. Microsoft announced that it would create a version of its Windows operating system for the AMD chips. Intel maintained that its Itanium chips would remain its only 64-bit processors.
* 2004: Intel, reacting to the market success of AMD, admitted it had been developing a clone of the x86-64 extensions, which it calls EM64T. Updated versions of its Xeon and Pentium 4 processor families supporting the new instructions were shipped.
* 2005: In March, Intel announced that their first dual-core processors will ship in the second quarter 2005 with the release of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the new Pentium D chips. Dual-core Itanium 2 processors will follow in the fourth quarter.
* 2005: On April 30, Microsoft publicly released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition for x86-64 processors.
* 2005: In May, AMD pre-released its dual-core desktop processor family called Athlon 64 X2. Athlon 64 X2 (Toledo) processors feature two cores with 1MB of L2 cache memory per core and consist of about 233.2 million transistors. They are 199 mm² large.
* 2005: In July, IBM announced its new dual-core 64-bit PowerPC 970MP (codenamed Antares).
32 vs 64 bit
A change from a 32-bit to a 64-bit architecture is a fundamental alteration, as most operating systems must be extensively modified to take advantage of the new architecture. Other software must also be ported to use the new capabilities; older software is usually supported through either a hardware compatibility mode (in which the new processors support an older 32-bit instruction set as well as the new modes), through software emulation, or by the actual implementation of a 32-bit processor core within the 64-bit processor die (as with the Itanium processors from Intel, which include an x86 processor core to run 32-bit x86 applications). One significant exception to this is the AS/400, whose software runs on a virtual ISA, called TIMI (Technology Independent Machine Interface) which is translated to native machine code by low-level software before being executed. The low-level software is all that has to be rewritten to move the entire OS and all software to a new platform, such as when IBM transitioned their line from the older 32/48-bit "IMPI" instruction set to 64-bit PowerPC (IMPI wasn't anything like 32-bit PowerPC, so this was an even bigger transition than from a 32-bit version of an instruction set to a 64-bit version of the same instruction set). Another significant exception is IBM z/Architecture, which readily handles applications concurrently with different addressing expectations (24, 31, and 64 bit).
While 64-bit architectures indisputably make working with huge data sets in applications such as digital video, scientific computing, and large databases easier, there has been considerable debate as to whether they or their 32-bit compatibility modes will be faster than comparably-priced 32-bit systems for other tasks.
Theoretically, some programs could well be slower in 64-bit mode. Under some architectures, instructions for 64-bit computing take up more storage space than the earlier 32-bit ones, so it is possible that some 32-bit programs will fit into the CPU's high-speed cache while equivalent 64-bit programs will not. In basic terms moving 64 bits at a time to perform otherwise 32 bit work simply requires more processing effort to/from memory. A common argument is that, in applications like scientific computing, the data being processed often fits naturally in 64-bit chunks corresponding to double-precision floating-point types, and will be faster on a 64-bit architecture because the CPU will be designed to process such information directly rather than requiring the program to perform multiple steps this is erroneous, however, because most 32-bit CPUs already have a 64-bit wide data bus and 64-bit registers for floating-point quantities. The only speed advantages come for manipulating 64-bit integer quantities, but this is rarely a performance-limiting task even for applications (such as large-file I/O) that require such manipulations.
All performance assessments are complicated, however, by the fact that in the process of designing the new 64-bit architectures, the instruction set designers have also taken the opportunity to make other changes that address some of the deficiencies in older instruction sets by adding new performance-enhancing facilities (such as the extra registers in the AMD64 design).
Pros and cons
A common misconception is that 64-bit architectures are no better than 32-bit architectures unless the computer has more than 4 GB of memory. This is not entirely true:
* Some operating systems reserve portions of each process' address space for OS use, effectively reducing the total address space available for mapping memory for user programs. For instance, Windows XP DLLs and userland OS components are mapped into each process' address space, leaving only 2 to 3.8 GB (depending on the settings) address space available, even if the computer has 4 GB of RAM. This restriction is not present in 64-bit Windows.
* Memory mapping of files is becoming less useful with 32-bit architectures, especially with the introduction of relatively cheap recordable DVD technology. A 4 GB file is no longer uncommon, and such large files cannot be memory mapped easily to 32-bit architectures; only a region of the file can be mapped into the address space, and to access such a file by memory mapping, those regions will have to be mapped into and out of the address space as needed. This is an issue, as memory mapping remains one of the most efficient disk-to-memory methods, when properly implemented by the OS.
The main disadvantage of 64-bit architectures is that relative to 32-bit architectures the same data occupies slightly more space in memory (due to swollen pointers and possibly other types and alignment padding). This increases the memory requirements of a given process and can have implications for efficient processor cache utilization. Maintaining a partial 32-bit model is one way to handle this and is in general reasonably effective. In fact, the highly performance-oriented z/OS operating system takes this approach currently, requiring program code to reside in any number of 31-bit address spaces while data objects can (optionally) reside in 64-bit regions.
Linux: 64-bit Linux has become more common in recent years. While finding prepackaged binaries for 64-bit systems has been a problem for some users, many Linux software packages can simply be compiled from source to work in a 64-bit environment. Gentoo Linux supports a very robust 64-bit environment. One issue is that 64-bit Linux cannot play certain audio and video formats easily, due to closed-sourced codecs that are incompatible with 64-bit media players. A workaround is to use 32-bit versions of those media players with the codecs, thus enabling playback of those formats.
64-bit data models
Converting application software written in a high-level language from a 32-bit architecture to a 64-bit architecture varies in difficulty. One common recurring problem is that some programmers assume that pointers (variables that store memory addresses) have the same length as some other data type. Programmers assume they can transfer quantities between these data types without losing information. Those assumptions happen to be true on some 32 bit machines (and even some 16 bit machines), but they are no longer true on 64 bit machines. The C programming language and its descendant C++ make it particularly easy to make this sort of mistake.
To avoid this mistake in C and C++, the sizeof operator can be used to determine the size of these primitive types if decisions based on their size need to be made at run time. Also, limits.h in the C99 standard and climits in the C++ standard give more helpful info; sizeof only returns the number of bytes, which is sometimes misleading, because the size of a byte is also not well defined in C or C++. One needs to be careful to use the ptrdiff_t type (in the standard header <stddef.h>) when doing pointer arithmetic; too much code incorrectly uses "int" or "long" instead.
Neither C nor C++ define the length of a pointer, int, or long to be a specific number of bits.
In most programming environments on 32 bit machines, pointers, "int" variables, and "long" variables, are all 32 bits long.
However, in many programming environments on 64-bit machines, "int" variables are still 32 bits wide, but "long"s and pointers are 64 bits wide. These are described as having an LP64 data model. Another alternative is the ILP64 data model in which all three data types are 64 bits wide. However, in most cases the modifications required are relatively minor and straightforward, and many well-written programs can simply be recompiled for the new environment without changes. Another alternative is the LLP64 model that maintains compatibility with 32 bit code, by leaving both int and long as 32-bit. "LL" refers to the "long long" type, which is at least 64 bits on all platforms, including 32 bit environments. Most 64 bit compilers today use the LP64 model (including Solaris, AIX, HP, Linux, MacOS native compilers), Microsoft however decided to use the LLP64 model.
Note that a programming model is a choice made on a per compiler basis, and several can coexist on the same OS. However typically the programming model chosen by the OS API as primary model dominates.
Another consideration is the data model used for drivers. Drivers make up the majority of the operating system code in most modern operating systems (although many may not be loaded when the operating system is running). Many drivers use pointers heavily to manipulate data, and in some cases have to load pointers of a certain size into the hardware they support for DMA. As an example, a driver for a 32-bit PCI device asking the device to DMA data into upper areas of a 64-bit machine's memory could not satisfy requests from the operating system to load data from the device to memory above the 4 gigabyte barrier, because the pointers for those addresses would not fit into the DMA registers of the device. This problem is solved by having the OS take the memory restrictions of the device into account when generating requests to drivers for DMA.
Current 64-bit processor architectures
64-bit processor architectures (as of 2005) include:
* The DEC Alpha architecture (view ALPHA 64-bit timeline)
* Intel's IA-64 architecture (used in Intel's Itanium CPUs)
* AMD's AMD64 architecture (used in AMD's Athlon 64, Opteron, Sempron, and Turion 64 CPUs).
o Intel now uses the same instruction set as AMD in its own processor architecture as EM64T.
* SPARC architecture (64-bit as of SPARC V9)
o Sun's UltraSPARC architecture
o Fujitsu's SPARC64 architecture
* IBM's POWER architecture
* IBM/Motorola's PowerPC architecture (originally the PowerPC 620, more recently the PowerPC 970 µP)
* IBM's z/Architecture, used by IBM zSeries and System z9 mainframes
* MIPS Technologies' MIPS IV, MIPS V, and MIPS64 architectures
* HP's PA-RISC family (64-bit as of PA-RISC 2.0)
Some 64-bit processor architectures can execute 32-bit code natively without any performance penalty, such as AMD64, MIPS64,Sparc64, zSeries, PowerPC64, etc. This kind of support is commonly called biarch support or more generally multi-arch support.
A completely distinct change in microprocessor design since approximately 2004 has been the introduction of multicore (initially, dual core) processors, which include two or more separate processor cores in a single "chip" or package. Effectively, dual-core processors deliver two-way Symmetric multiprocessing computers using a single motherboard processor socket - or four-way machines with two sockets, and so on. Some dual-core x86 chips, such as AMD's Athlon 64 X2 range, are 64-bit capable; others, such as Intel's Core Duo, are 32-bit devices. The performance and capacity implications of multi-core processors are entirely independent and different from those of 64-bit versus 32-bit. A processor with two 32-bit cores is not a 64-bit processor.
Beyond 64 bits
64-bit words seem to be sufficient for most practical uses today (c. 2006). Still it may be mentioned that IBM's System/370 used 128-bit floating point numbers, and many modern processors also include 128-bit floating point registers. The System/370 was notable, however, in that it also used variable-length decimal numbers of up to 16 bytes (i.e. 128-bit).
IBM's OS/400 has for years used 128-bit pointers. Apps are designed to run on a virtual machine, then converted to the native instruction set when installed. The original hardware was a 32-bit CISC system similar to the System/370. Current hardware is 64-bit PowerPC. A future transition to 128-bit will be painless.
In images, 64-bit refers to 48-bit images with a 16-bit alpha channel.