For years, AMD has been talking about the positive impact that 64-bit will have on games. Honestly, we never bought it; games are still a couple of years away from breaking the 2GB process limitation under present day 32-bit Windows. Despite our lack of belief, AMD still did their best to convey the message that gamers would be given a better experience in a 64-bit environment.

AMD has been demoing 64-bit versions of the Unreal engine as well as Far Cry for quite some time now, but neither were ever made public. Originally, we heard talk of 20% increases in performance due to decreased register pressure when running in 64-bit mode. We desperately wanted to see a game recompiled with 64-bit support, but alas, we needed a 64-bit OS. Last month's release of Windows XP x64 Edition fulfilled the latter requirement, but we still lacked any games to test the hype.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay actually shipped with a 64-bit binary out of the box. Unfortunately, we saw absolutely no performance improvement from using the 64-bit binary vs. the 32-bit binary in our extensive evaluation of the x64 edition OS. If performance under Riddick was any indication, 64-bit wasn't going to be much of a performance sell for gamers.

Today, however, AMD and Ubisoft are announcing public availability of the first 64-bit patch and content update to Far Cry. As we just implied, the 64-bit add-ons to Far Cry come in two separate packages. First, there's the actual 64-bit patch that installs and enables a native 64-bit binary to run under x64 edition. The second package is the AMD64 Exclusive Content Update that improves the actual content in the game.

AMD listed the changes to the 64-bit version of Far Cry as follows:
All Levels
  • Improved terrain textures
  • Increased view distance
  • Offset bump mapping added for rock and stone objects
  • More insects and birds
On the Pier Level
  • New beach road with additional vehicle
  • Barrel storage camp
  • Opened more space to explore
Pier and Boat
  • New terrain textures with shader
Two New 64-bit only Multiplayer levels
  • Stronghold
  • Gorge
As you can probably already tell, none of the additions or enhancements have anything to do with 64-bit memory addressability. In fact, a fast GPU is all you really need to take advantage of most of these features - not a 64-bit CPU. The patched version of Far Cry doesn't even eat up more than 512MB of memory during normal gameplay, and supporting more insects and birds doesn't really depend on more architecture registers provided by AMD64 either. It's no surprise that none of the enhancements offered by the 64-bit patch have anything to do with a 64-bit CPU at all, but you have to add value somehow and this is how Ubisoft and AMD decided to do it.

Far Cry doesn't use more than 512MB of memory, even with the 64-bit patches.

Both patches are scheduled to be available to gamers starting today, free of charge, but of course, you must already have a copy of Far Cry to utilize them. The patch and the exclusive content update will only install under Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, so 32-bit XP Professional users will not be able to even install the additional content patch. Despite being very tightly associated with AMD, the new Far Cry patches will work on Intel EM64T enabled systems as well.

Despite the wording of the error message, the patches will work on Intel EM64T enabled systems - just not on 32-bit processors.

The patches themselves are huge, totaling over 1.5GB in size, so be prepared for a hefty download. Even after applying the patches, you can still run the 32-bit Far Cry executable, but doing so will not give you access to the additional features or new multiplayer levels.

The Far Cry patch also acts as a no-CD crack, it appears, as we no longer had to have our play disc in the drive to play the game after applying the 64-bit patch.

64-bit Far Cry Performance
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  • gbrux - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    I'd like to see a performance comparison when each configuration, 32-bit and 64-bit, includes the maximum amount of memory for the motherboard.

    It is reported that Windows 64 with AMD 64 handles large amounts of memory better than a 32-bit system, thereby producing better performance.

    Why did AT use just 1GB memory?

    So, test that.

  • magnusfl - Saturday, September 5, 2009 - link

    what i not see so far is any testing with more then 4 gigs of memory as I sure there a big jump in some games due to the limitation of 2 gig for the game which is not the case in the 64 bit OS
    as when the level is reached the memory overflow goes to the Hard drive which is much slower then memory
  • Carfax - Saturday, May 14, 2005 - link

    Anand may have underestimated how GPU bound 1024x768 at VERY HIGH quality is. The guy who claims the 46% increase used Medium quality settings, which may have exposed the processors influence a lot more.
  • Carfax - Saturday, May 14, 2005 - link

    Doug, I was just about to post that. We need more testers to verify that performance boost though, because it was done by an amateur.

    If it's true though (and I hope so) it bodes well for games which are optimized for AMD64.
  • dougSF30 - Friday, May 13, 2005 - link

    And here is a real comparison that actually makes sense:

    64b FarCry runs up to 46% faster than 32b.

    Gosh, who would've thought that not making the GPU the bottleneck would expose the code speed improvement?

  • maynardc - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    I have the XP Pro x64 disc and have a few questions:

    1. If I install XP Pro x64 over XP Home Edition, will I still be able to run all of currently installed 32-bit apps OR will I have to reinstall everything?

    2. Also, if I uninstall it, will it automatically go back to XP Home Edition SP2?
  • Concillian - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    Who is the tard? The person who wrote the review, or the person who didn't read it well enough to realize that the performance comparisons weren't including the exclusive content that brought the increased visuals? Personally my vote is for the latter.

    "in order to isolate the performance differences from the extra content, we only looked at performance changes with the first 64-bit patch installed - not the Exclusive Content Update."

    Reading Comprehension is your friend.
  • islandtechengineers - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    I thought the same when i saw it. the improved graphics are better than the 5 to 6% performance increase! visually there's a noticeable difference; I doubt anyone would notice a 5 or 6% on performance.
  • TWilliams - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    Who ever wrote this article is a flipping tard!!! LOL... Look at it like this; The game runs 5% to 6% faster and it has greatly improved graphics! One would think we are comparing the same game and only getting 5 or 6 percent increase from the review, but that is not the case! We are getting 5 to 6 percent increase with greatly improved graphics, there is nothing to laugh at when you look at it like that... Any how, crappy review.. hehe
  • smn198 - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    #25 I can't see how your reference to [H]ard|OCP helps your argument. See the final page.

    "Our performance results show that we did not have an increase or a decrease in performance with 64-bit FarCry with the new content. This is actually quite reassuring considering that the ECU patch is actually adding in a lot of new content, including a new rendering feature called Offset Mapping.

    What CryTek and AMD have managed to do is to give us more content and world quality in the game without losing performance! They are taking the power of the AMD Athlon64 CPU and leveraging that to offset any performance differences and adding more detail in the game.

    What we found the most demanding on performance is the new Offset Mapping 3D technique. In Catacombs, which employs this feature all over the scene since you are basically surrounded by stones the entire time, we found performance here to drop the most compared to 32-bit FarCry without Offset Mapping. There were instances where the frame rate was lower by 10-15FPS with Offset Mapping compared to without. However, in most of those scenes, the frame rate was already very high at approximately 70FPS, so losing 10FPS off that wouldn’t cause any change in gameplay experience. Indeed, it seems where Offset Mapping is used, performance is slightly slower in those situations than without from our experiences. There are also scenes and maps though where performance can be slightly faster, a few FPS here and there with 64-bit FarCry, and that’s with the extra content.

    It seems to be both a give or take relationship. Depending on the scene or map, performance could be slightly slower, or slightly faster with 64-bit FarCry. Nevertheless, it is never too drastic to affect real world gameplay."

    In light of your link, I’ll amend my first comment from “#3,5,8 I am impressed. If I understood correctly this is not comparing apples to apples. There are performance gains whilst having higher detail. That is great!” to “#3,5,8 I am impressed. If I understood correctly this is not comparing apples to apples. There is negligible performance deviation whilst having higher detail. That is great!” Hope you are happy now.

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