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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
We'll start with gaming performance because I know many of you will be interested to see these numbers first. Our first test is a surprisingly good new game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. This is one of the most visually impressive games on the PC, perhaps even better than Doom 3. The game also comes out of the box with a 64-bit executable (in addition to the standard 32-bit version) and a built-in benchmarking function. That makes it particuarly useful for us, because we can test performance without running a 32-bit benchmarking utility, like FRAPS, alongside it.

We recorded our own custom demo of one of the opening levels of the game and played it back for testing. The game has an advanced rendering mode with soft shadows available on GeForce 6-series GPUs like we used in our test systems, but it really taxes the graphics card, so we bypassed it for the "SM2.0" mode, which runs fast enough to show us when performance is CPU limited.

You'll notice that in the benchmark graphs below and those on the following pages, we have several sets of data for each CPU. Any result labeled "Win32" was run on the 32-bit version of Windows XP Pro, and anything labeled "Win64" was run on WinXP Pro x64 RC2. The tests labeled "32-bit" used 32-bit executable programs, and those labeled "64-bit" used 64-bit versions. Notice that in many cases you'll see a mix of "Win64" and "32-bit," when we are running a 32-bit program via WOW64 on Windows x64.

There's nothing earth-shattering about the performance of either the AMD or Intel CPUs in 64-bit mode here. Interestingly enough, the Athlon 64 is faster running the 32-bit code on WinXP x64 than on WinXP 32-bit. The Pentium 4, meanwhile, is the opposite, losing a step or two in the 64-bit OS. Neither processor benefits tangibly from the move to 64-bit application code, unfortunately.

Doom 3
We'll continue our gaming tests with a few more 32-bit games, just to see how they run on Windows XP Pro x64. Few other games have 64-bit versions that are available to the public at present, sadly. That makes our gaming tests a little bit less enlightening than the non-gaming applications that follow.

We tested performance by playing back a custom-recorded demo that should be fairly representative of most of the single-player gameplay in Doom 3.

Doom 3 doesn't gain or lose much of anything when making the transition to the 64-bit OS. That's good news for those who would like to make the leap.