Monday Musings: Keeping up with the Joneses, Part 3
In the last of this series, we’re looking at the transition to 64-bit computing and what it means to you.
First of all, what is 64-bit computing? The easiest way to understand it is by the benefits of 64-bit (x64) computing, and the biggest benefit is that it allows you to use more memory or RAM in the computer. Why does this matter? Well, there are effectively three tiers of computer memory, going from fastest to slowest (and also from smallest capacity to largest capacity and most expensive to least expensive):
- Processor memory or cache – this stores the data most frequently required by the processor
- RAM – this stores the programs and data that are currently being used
- Storage or HDD/SSD – where your files and programs are stored
Your computer will try to pull items from storage into RAM, which can be accessed faster by the processor; this is why you often get performance benefits from upgrading the RAM in your computer. So why don’t PC manufacturers fill their computers with RAM? If you browse the specifications of computers, you’ll see they quote something like 4GB of memory and 500GB of HDD space – your RAM is comes in far smaller quantities than your HDD does. This is in part because RAM is more expensive, but also because a non-x64 computer can only make use of 4GB of RAM. Imagine you computer’s RAM is a series of numbered holes. A non-x64 computer can only lookup the contents of 4,294,967,295 holes, which in computer terms equates to 4GB. An x64 computer can lookup the contents of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 holes, equating to 16XB (exabytes) of RAM. While 4GB is sufficient for general document editing, email, surfing the web etc if you want to start photo/video editing or you work with large files, the ability to use more than 4GB of RAM is extremely beneficial. If you bought a PC today it’ll likely support an x64 Operating System, so given the choice why wouldn’t you go for it? That comes down to device and application support. In theory, x64 is backwards-compatible but there are still some exceptions. In Agile for example, our telephone system won’t talk to our CRM because the telephone system doesn’t have any x64 drivers. As time goes on, this inevitably becomes less and less of an issue, but currently it’s something to be aware of.
Thinking of moving to an x64 system? Contact us on 01296 399 237 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can audit your systems to make the transition as seamless as possible.