What Took So Long?

One of the questions that many of your probably have is, what took so long? Opteron and later Athlon 64 have been available for quite some time - roughly two years now. AMD has talked of Windows 64 for that long and more, and only now are we finally seeing the fruits of MS' labor.

The conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly going to talk about an alliance between MS and Intel. It's difficult to say for certain whether that played a role, but remember that Xeon with 64-bit capabilities has been available for nearly a year now. Microsoft stands to benefit - in terms of increased sales of its OS and applications - by the release of XP-64, and we would like to think that they have simply been spending the extra time to make sure the release is as smooth as possible.

One of the other key factors in the delays is the drivers. While MS has control over the source code and APIs for Windows, those are not the only critical parts of the OS. Drivers are an integral part of any OS, and proper optimizations as well as porting take a lot of time and effort. While XP-64 is capable of running 32-bit applications, the drivers must be native 64-bit code.

Whatever the cause of the delays, we feel relatively confident in stating that there wasn't any major conspiracy to hurt AMD or any other company. Microsoft has seen quite a lot of groups shift to Linux simply to gain earlier support for x86-64, and that can't be something they're happy about. In the end, getting a new OS release done well is more important than getting it done fast, and hopefully the release of XP-64 will be one of the less painful upgrades for early adopters.

One last item that we want to quickly point out: many people have also assumed that the launch of XP-64 and the embrace of the x86-64 architecture by Intel has somehow signified an end to Itanium and IA64. It was reiterated on several occasions that Itanium is not dead and it's not going anywhere. XP-64 will also have a version for the IA64 platform, and Itanium will continue to compete primarily with high-end servers like those from IBM with the POWER5 processors and Sun with their UltraSPARC processors. The chances of any home user running an Itanium system anytime soon are pretty remote, but the platform lives on.

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  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    from page 3 "...and with the largest readily available DIMMs currently coming in at 2 GB in size"

    in reply to #5, #6 - Crucial have had 4GB PC2100 DIMMs available for purchase from their website for quite some time. They're certainly not cheap, but they are readily available. If you've got the cash I'm sure they'll sell you a few dozen of them.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    MS may have needed to restrict 64bit to long longs due to some internal operating system code issues ... If, in fact, linux distros that run on x86-64 impliment 64bit longs this may be the case. Otherwise I'd lean towards a hardware issue.

    At this point I haven't looked into it, but I will be sure to ask around (as this is surely the place to do it).
  • bobsmith1492 - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    Melgross - is that English?? I read it over real quickly and it was like... dude, what's he talking about? It just took a good close look though. :P
  • melgross - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    MS wants to control whatever they can. Control graphics memory and we are another step towards commoditized graphics boards.

    I wonder why MS went the way they did with the 64 bitness of the system. They went to (LL)P64 where just the long longs and the pointers are 64 bit, rather than LP64, where the longs are also 64 bit.

    They are the only ones to do that. It seems like a half measure. A conversion from any Unix distro (or OS X) would need more work than is good, as well as a lessening in it's effectiveness as a 64 bit system. Are the 64 bit extentions of the x86 chips at fault?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    Okay, the typos are fixed, and those that didn't like the 8-bit PNG graphics should now be happy. Iit was 4:30 AM when we finished, so our judgement was a bit impaired.) Just don't complain about how the PNGs are now five times as large. :)

    My personal opinion is that Windows XP removed most of the problems with the Windows platform. We'll see how Longhorn works out when it gets here, but that's still almost two years off. The graphics effects are nice, but pretty much totally unnecessary. Hopefully, we'll see some true improvements in the overall performance and not just eye candy.
  • Googer - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    Linux on a MAC: Total freedom from with in a confined space.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    tbh, with the current state of things Linux game performance is not up to par with windows. Even with windows managing graphics memory, windows performance will likely be better.

    And from a workstation perspective, having virtualized graphics memory for free is more of a blessing than a curse.

    I do think it would be better if MS gave graphics developers a choice whether to allow windows to manage graphics memory or not...
  • Son of a N00b - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    dont you dare go screwing up the performance of my vid card ms...if you do im going linux...
  • suryad - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    Agreed. Windows should not be managing graphics ram...unless MS came up with some new techniques...MS seems to be pulling out all the stops though in my opinion. I think the hybrid drive is a good idea but like #12 said...that is quite a concern!
  • Cygni - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    #10's post makes me giggle.

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