Windows XP 64-Bit Preview: First Look at Athlon 64 Performance

In case you missed the news, Microsoft has just released a public preview of XP 64-bit.  Microsoft officially calls the new Operating System the "Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems".  The Customer Preview can be downloaded for free or ordered on CD for a fee at the 64-bit Edition website.  The CDs will not ship until mid-February, but the free 420MB download version is available NOW.  We couldn't wait to download the preview of the new OS and run an Athlon 64 through some benchmarks.

Your first task after downloading and installing the OS will be finding drivers for some of the components in your system.  Microsoft's new 64-bit Newsgroup is a great place to start your search. Drivers are part of the new 64-bit OS, but they are still spotty in many cases.  We needed to find a 64-bit driver for the 3Com LAN on our Asus SK8V and better video drivers.  XP64 installed a driver for our Radeon 9800 PRO, but it was really basic and not much in the performance department.  After we discovered ATI did not really have a 64-bit driver, but nVidia did have one on their web-site, we swapped in an Albatron FX5950 Ultra video card.  We also found 64-bit drivers for our 3Com on-board LAN and SK8V Sound at PlanetAMD64 and Collosumus.  With the basic features taken care of we were ready to take our first stab at testing 64-bit performance.

Performance Test Configuration


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  • Jeff7181 - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Very nice. This is reminding me of the Windows 3.1 > Windows 95 switch. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Just to add to what I said, it would be beneficial if AnandTech ran all CPU article game tests at 640x480 to reduce the impact of the graphics-card as past reviews have shown that some of them are gfx-card bound. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Its clear from those results that uaing an Athlon 64 with a 64-bit O/S will certainly give considerable performance improvements with many applications and perform at least as well in everything else.

    Equally clear is that the poor gaming results in this test are caused by immature/unoptimised AGP GART chipset and/or graphics-card drivers as all the other tests which weren't dependent on what was sent to the graphics-card showed the A64 doing at least as well as in 32-bit mode and usually somewhat better. Changing from 32-bit to 64-bit mode obviously isn't going to hamper the transfer of data down the AGP/PCI-Express bus (quite the opposite with suitable drivers) so I'd expect games to show similar performance gains to other apps once the drivers are mature.
  • INTC - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Here is a description of the different modes of AMD64 operations:

    It looks like WOW is okay but until applications are recompiled for full 64-bit the advantages are absent and there may even be some penalty for "Compatibility" mode as seen in the gaming scores.

    It will be interesting to see what Intel will have at IDF in a few weeks.
  • Pumpkinierre - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    This OS has been written for the a64 which from memory has 3 modes of operation: full64bit, 32bit emulation and something in between. You mention DX-32bit(post #13) so can this OS run in 32bit mode. If so, you could run the games benchmarks using 32bit drivers and Win64. If scores were still the same then the OS would be to blame not the drivers.

    Still, good to see movement on the 64bit front. I suspect that Intel's recent announcements have something to do with this. Perhaps Win64 is not coded for A64 alone. Nevertheless, it cant but help a64 sales.
  • tolgae - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Well, nobody seems to mention the fact that many of these apps (games especially) are running under WOW64. It is normal that such losses are happening. The CPU can run 32-bit natively very well, but now applications are going through this extra layer (being "converted" on the fly, in a sense) so that they can run on 64-bit OS. As with everything else about the Windows XP 64-bit, I am sure this will be optimized until the product ships (even after that). Reply
  • mattsaccount - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    The important thing to keep in mind is that this is not the final release of Windows 64 bit, unlike Prescott :) Nobody would use this BETA OS in a production environment.

    The way I interpret these results is like so. The improvements are real and will still be present when Windows 64 final (whatever it's called) is shipped. The applications with poor performance (i.e. games) will probably improve by the time the OS ships and we should therefore withhold judgement.
  • raskren - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Wow what a hit in the gaming department! I expected to a see a modest gain in everything, but the tiny boost in 64bit apps and the huge loss in games makes the Prescott look a lot better. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Splinter Cell has been added to the Game Benchmark comparison.

    XP64 uses DirectX 64 and a Direct X 32-bit version. We were told there may be a problem with enabling DirectX 64 in this Preview Edition. We did run DXDiag for 64-bits and checked to make sure DX64 was enabled. We then reran several game benchmarks and got essentially the same results as those posted in this review.

    We will be on the lookout for updated graphics drivers and will report what we find.
  • klah - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    The Nvidia driver is still very slow and buggy. OpenGL actually runs faster in software mode with this driver.