Microsoft to kiss 32-bit servers goodbye

Windows Server 2003 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but Microsoft doesn’t plan to conserve the 32-bit/64-bit split approach for very much longer, if a report by APC Magazine is to be believed. The magazine says the next version of the server variant of Windows, which Microsoft recently dubbed Windows Server 2008, will be 64-bit only. “All future operating systems for server hardware from Microsoft beyond Windows Server 2008 will be 64-bit,” APC Magazine quotes Microsoft senior Windows product manager Alex Heaton as saying.

On the desktop, things are less definite for Microsoft. Vista is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and Heaton points out that there is a “growing community of drivers for 64-bit Windows Vista.” However, he adds, “we have not decided when Windows Client will follow Windows Server and become 64-bit only.” The VP of Development for Microsoft’s Windows Core Operating System Division stated back in February that the next client version of Windows is scheduled to come out by the end of 2009.

Comments closed
    • Cova
    • 14 years ago

    Keep in mind MS said the same thing about Exchange 2007. But then when it was released they had to go and change their minds and release a 32-bit copy of the binaries, supported for testing/development only.

    • nerdrage
    • 14 years ago

    Does Linux 64-bit have the same issues with (lack of) drivers that Windows 64-bit does?

      • Bluekkis
      • 14 years ago

      Nope, >90% of all linux drivers have worked in x86_64 arch for years already. Only some older propertiary stuff lacks support (but I can’t think of any).

      • just brew it!
      • 14 years ago

      In general, no… at least where Open Source drivers are concerned. So for common hardware with openly published (or easily reverse-engineered) specifications, the driver situation for 64-bit Linux is better than on Windows.

      OTOH if you’re dealing with proprietary binary-only drivers, you’re probably worse off, since porting the drivers to Windows is a first priority for hardware vendors; Linux is an afterthought in most cases.

      FWIW, I’ve found that Linux tends to be /[

    • Krogoth
    • 14 years ago

    Althought, the news article is incorrect.

    It is still only a matter of time before 32-bit code bites the dust.

    I am still surprised that Longhorn server still offers a 32-bit version. The demands of memory in the server market are quickly exceeding the limits of 32-bit memory addressing.

      • ew
      • 14 years ago

      The 32-bit memory addressing problem was fixed long before 64-bit CPUs became popular.

        • UberGerbil
        • 14 years ago

        For physical memory, yes. But the 32bit virtual address space is still a problem for certain classes of apps — especially server apps (DBMS, HPC on large datasets, etc). In general you want your VAS to be /[

        • Krogoth
        • 14 years ago

        They involved hacks that are ultimately inefficient compared to a native 64-bit environment. PAE and such were merely stop-gap solutions that are just being phased-out by x86-64.

          • just brew it!
          • 14 years ago

          To expand on this a bit…

          Accessing more than 4GB of physical RAM via PAE requires that the application use a special API called AWE (Address Windowing Extensions). The additional RAM doesn’t act like “normal” RAM, i.e. you can’t just access it via a memory address. You have to call an API function to map the page you want into the 4GB physical address space before accessing it.

          This means it is more complicated to use from a programming standpoint, and the performance is generally inferior to a system that supports 64-bit addressing natively.

          It is basically the same concept as the old “EMS” specification which was used back in the 16-bit days, to allow DOS applications to break the 640KB barrier.

            • UberGerbil
            • 14 years ago

            Yes, AWE is an expensive way for a single application to get at more physical memory than it would otherwise have in 32bits. PAE is an efficient way for the (32bit) system as a whole to make use of more than 4GB or memory, even if individual apps are still limited to 2GB of virtual address space.

            Interestingly, Microsoft said at one of the WinHECs that AWE performance was improved by a factor of 10 in Longhorn Server. You’d think they wouldn’t bother, with x64 available, but I suppose 32bit versions of SQL Server and a few other AWE apps are still important

          • UberGerbil
          • 14 years ago

          Actually, the efficiency advantage comes from the expanded virtual address space, which of course can be backed directly by physical memory. But as far as the translation to physical addresses go, x86-64 uses the same page tables that PAE uses, and if you think PAE is inefficient, you’ll be upset to know that 64bit uses the same “hack” and does it one better, by adding a fourth level of Page Table Entries.

          In reality, of course, the PTE indirection is neither a “hack” nor inefficient — whether it is being used by PAE or x64.

    • Corrado
    • 14 years ago

    I, for one, think this is a great idea. You have to FORCE people to properly code things and if making them switch to 64bit is the way to do it, then do it. Why are so many drivers so crappy? Because they are so laden with legacy stuff. I really doubt there are many clean room re-writes of drivers going on and since most important stuff (printers, video, not sure of sound) are just extrapolations of previous gen stuff, its really all just added on to to simplify things. If a company is forced to re-write the drivers for something, I believe they will run better, and may be buggy at first, it will be more efficient than the old way of doing it… ‘oh a new card? add support into our existing drivers’

    Speaking of drivers, why is the Intel nic drivers 98mb? ALMOST 100MB FOR SOMETHING THAT SHOULD FIT ON A FRIGGAN FLOPPY!

      • stdPikachu
      • 14 years ago

      Last time I looked the intel e1000 drivers fitted on a floppy, it’s all the crappy management programs that take up all the space. If you’re content to use the inbuilt deaults in windows you an get away with a minimal install.

        • Corrado
        • 14 years ago

        But the download is 98mb. Its 1 package. Thats myqualm. I know I can rip out what I need to and stick it on a floppy, but why not give me that option from the get go/

    • SGT Lindy
    • 14 years ago

    Ummm something is wrong here. Windows server 2008 is going to be 32bit and 64bit. The “R2” version (like Windows 2003 R2) is going to be 64bit only.

    Cant believe no one caught that.

      • UberGerbil
      • 14 years ago

      Yeah, exactly.

    • albundy
    • 14 years ago

    if this spreads to desktop os’s, it will definitely mean a dual boot for 32bit gamers. more of a lesser issue with applications, tho.

      • just brew it!
      • 14 years ago

      Why would it do that? 64-bit Windows runs 32-bit apps (including games), with performance comparable to native 32-bit OSes.

        • albundy
        • 14 years ago

        you sure about that? i’d like to try xp 64bit!

          • sigher
          • 14 years ago

          Windows 32 bit runs 16bit apps and windows 64bit runs 32bit apps, however windows 64bit did away with compability with the ancient 16bit apps.
          So 32bit games work fine on Win64 but not DOS games 🙂

            • UberGerbil
            • 14 years ago

            But you can run DOS games on 64bit using DOSBox or one of several other emulators. No biggie.

            • Austin
            • 14 years ago

            y[<:o~<]y The need for (and lack of) 64bit drivers is still a very big issue, esp for those without the latest hardware. There's also still a perf deficit to running 32bit on M$ 64bit OS primarily as processor extensions such as MMX & 3Dnow are effectively emulated using SSE.

            • UberGerbil
            • 14 years ago

            Drivers are an issue, particularly for older hardware as you say. Fortunately, that becomes less of an issue over time (and everyone wants an excuse to buy new stuff, right?) And I’m actually surprised at how much works out of the box, or has drivers available online. Printers are still a bit of a mixed bag, but then those things are almost disposable these days anyway (inkjets, at least).

            MMX and 3DNow! aren’t emulated; they’re deprecated but still allowed, so old code will run (though you’ve got a problem if you’re using the MS compiler, since it doesn’t support the MMX intrinsics on x64 and there’s no inline assembler). They aren’t allowed in kernel code, so yeah if you’re writing kernel mode drivers it’s an issue.. but if you’re porting a driver to x64, MMX is way down on the list of things you’re worried about.

            Anyway MMX never got a lot of use in the first place. Most people doing vector-style ops jumped to SSE as soon as they could, and never looked back; the only drag was working on older CPUs that didn’t support SSE. You can do anything in SSE you could do in MMX, and you can do it faster — and one nice thing about the x64 chips: you know SSE is available.

            • just brew it!
            • 14 years ago

            Saying they are “emulated” is a bit of a stretch. Yeah, the ALUs/FPUs are optimized for SSE these days; but 32-bit MMX/3DNow! still run natively on the hardware, i.e. there is no /[

          • UberGerbil
          • 14 years ago

          Uh, yeah. Some of us have been doing if for a couple of years now.

    • Forge
    • 14 years ago

    Someone at APC Magazine has the reading comprehension of a 5 year old.

    q[

      • just brew it!
      • 14 years ago

      Oh… duh!

    • shank15217
    • 14 years ago

    um.. i am running longhorn server beta 3 2008 *[<32-bit edition<]*. Anybody can download it, its not a big deal.

      • danny e.
      • 14 years ago

      why? 32bit should have been killed already.

      • just brew it!
      • 14 years ago

      Just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it hasn’t been (or can’t be) killed as an official product.

      In fact, they may even be using the amount of interest in the beta release to gauge whether or not to go forward with a general release.

      *[

    • just brew it!
    • 14 years ago

    Makes sense… any CPU used in a new server these days will be 64-bit capable.

    Older servers can continue to run Windows Server 2003.

    Or switch to Linux. 😀

    • sativa
    • 14 years ago

    i wish they would have made vista 64bit only but I understand the arguements against it.

    Hopefully vista sp1 or sp2 will be 64bit only.

      • king_kilr
      • 14 years ago

      Why? So they can alienate most of their user base?

        • ManAtVista
        • 14 years ago

        Most? You know Vista 64-bit runs just about every 32-bit app there is? I doubt ‘most’ people use 16-bit software anymore which would be the only problem with doin that shit..

          • sigher
          • 14 years ago

          True 64bit software does take more space though, on HD and in RAM.

            • UberGerbil
            • 14 years ago

            Only a few percent. Not enough to make a difference.

            • just brew it!
            • 14 years ago

            HD space has ceased to be an issue, due to the steady growth of hard drive capacities.

            Code footprint in RAM is largely a non-issue as well; apps which chew up large amounts of RAM typically need it for data, not code.

            It does require a bit more memory bandwidth, to fetch the code into the instruction cache though. So if your app is totally constrained by memory bandwidth, yes you may take a (small) performance hit due to the larger code size.

      • sigher
      • 14 years ago

      I think most coders, including MS’s own coders don’t know how to make 64bit software, that’s what’s keeping them.
      Reason I think that is the many things MS doesn’t make available for win64 and the poor support of it in the area of drivers even today.
      Although support for 64bit IS growing.

        • UberGerbil
        • 14 years ago

        /[

    • danny e.
    • 14 years ago

    about time.

      • Sniper
      • 14 years ago

      good riddance

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