64-bit Bay Trail tablets are coming soon

Intel’s Bay Trail processor is a bona-fide 64-bit chip, but right now, pretty much all Bay Trail-powered Windows 8.1 tablets come pre-installed with the 32-bit version of the OS. Happily, that may be about to change. Or at least, CNet News says it’s going to.

The site got word from a "source familiar with upcoming plans for those tablets" that, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month, "at least one major PC maker" will show a Bay Trail tablet running Windows 8.1 x64. There’s no hint of when such a tablet might hit stores, but in a statement to CNet News, Microsoft said 64-bit Bay Trail systems will turn up "in the coming months."

What’s taking so long? Apparently, there’s a small technical hurdle on the road to 64-bitness: connected standby drivers. Nathan Brookwood of Insight64 told CNet News that a 64-bit version of those drivers was "prioritized toward the end of the list last year." The way he explains it, those drivers are needed to ensure good battery life.

Fully 64-bit Bay Trail tablets will, of course, be able to address a full 4GB of system memory—or more. But there’s another selling point. According to Brookwood, "IT organizations want to standardize on 64-bit images and 64-bit apps." If Microsoft wants to sell Bay Trail tablets to businesses—and those devices are certainly speedy enough for productivity work—then 64-bit could be a big deal.

As for us non-enterprise folks, I think we’ll enjoy the support for extra RAM. Bay Trail isn’t a speed demon by any means, but it does have four cores and the ability to run the same software as higher-wattage desktop and notebook chips. 2GB of RAM does limit one’s multitasking options considerably.

Comments closed
    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    What about the Windows 8 tablets that don’t run Bay Trail but have 4 or even 8 gigs of memory? If this was purely a software thing wouldn’t this affect those systems as well? Or is it a technical limitation of the Atom processor itself?

    • Saber Cherry
    • 9 years ago

    No, it isn’t. You design hardware to be efficient and logical, and good software developers will take advantage. Software ALWAYS comes after hardware. There are special cases, such as video codecs and encryption standards, in which hardware is designed to an algorithmic specification, but non-niche hardware is never designed to some specific software implementation of a specification.

    3dfx was at the top of the hill due to their superb hardware, until their competitors started improving hardware much faster than 3dfx did. Not a good example, considering that software followed hardware there – game companies made glide games because glide-supporting hardware was the best.

    3D Now did not suffer from a lack of software, but rather, because it was an attempt to follow software. Once vectorized math operations became more efficient on video chips, it was mostly obsolete. Designing general-purpose hardware to follow popular software is a fool’s game.

    IA-64 was (and as of today, still is) in-order and inferior to the P3 architecture. It required immense advances in compiler technology to even compete, and said advances were similarly applicable to out-of-order processors, giving IA-64 no inherent advantage beyond more execution units that still cannot be effectively filled even on an out-of-order CPU. IA-64 has neat predicated instructions, but having an artificially intelligent scheduler (OOP) is [i<]so much better[/i<] than needing to issue a complete tree of instructions to an idiot for any possible contingency, just to assure minimal efficiency.

    • Rza79
    • 9 years ago

    It seems you might be right. It was fully supported until Windows XP SP1 and removed in SP2.

    [i<]Another way to remove the PCI hole, which is only useful for 64-bit operating systems and obsolescent 32-bit systems that support the Physical Address Extension method described above, is to "remap" some or all of the memory between the 2 gigabytes and 4 gigabytes limits to addresses above 4 gigabytes. This needs to be supported by the chipset of the computer and can usually be activated in the BIOS Setup. This remapping works on the level of physical addresses, unlike the higher-level remapping of virtual to physical addresses that happens inside the CPU core. Activating this for traditional 32-bit operating systems does more harm than good, as the remapped memory (often larger than the PCI hole itself) is unusable to such operating systems, even though e.g. Windows Vista will show such memory to physically exist on the "System Properties" page.[/i<] Anyhow, I'll keep installing 32bit Vista since it's so much faster than 64bit Vista on old systems. At least now I know more about it.

    • yuhong
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder if it has something to do with Win8.1 update 1.

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    Did you read the article you linked? Addressing memory addresses that have been mapped above 4GB is disabled for 32-bit client version of Windows.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, not since PAE has that been the case.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Where in the World is [s<]Carmen San Diego[/s<] Kabini/Temash?

    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    On average, I have well over 200 tabs open between different groups. It’s not that hard to amass so many for whatever ones focus is at the time.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    There are plenty of memory intensive CPU light tasks that can fill up a 2 gb ram buffer super fast.

    • Narishma
    • 9 years ago

    That’s what bookmarks are for.

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    It did but more recent versions of Windows report the amount physically present as well in the summary.

    • hasseb64
    • 9 years ago

    Meh! Tablets? Toy!
    Have a good one, used it for 1 year. Next tool is a ULTRABOOK!

    • Rza79
    • 9 years ago

    The magic word is PAE. Thanks to PAE, the BIOS can remap PCI, … and whatnot above the 4GB adress space. 4GB is available in Windows in supported cases (which is most as long as NX bit is supported).

    You might want to check out this:
    [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_GB_barrier[/url<]

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    Actually under Windows you still use less than 4 gigs (not quite 3GB, depending on how memory-mapped devices carve out ranges). This was one of the “big fixes” of Vista SP1: to “report” 4GB of RAM instead of anywhere between 3-3.25-3.5GB.

    The remapping above the 4GB address space does require 64-bit support with 64-bit versions of Windows.

    • Rza79
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah and they all report 4GB of RAM. Computers from the last 4-5 years can remap memory allocation above the 4GB adress space. I’m installing Vista 32bit on many laptops. All have 4GB available in Windows.
    The days that installing a 32bit OS causes a system to have only 3GB available are long gone but it seems most people don’t know this yet.

    • Klimax
    • 9 years ago

    Facts not in evidence. Assertion is suspected to be incorrect.

    • ET3D
    • 9 years ago

    It’s probably a support nightmare, people calling support to complain the OS only reports 3GB and they were promised 4GB. I’m sure this happens.

    • ET3D
    • 9 years ago

    Chrome is more popular, and I’d bet the same tabs would take 3GB.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Because you want to read them later.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    Hmmm, I have about 20 tabs open in firefox on opensuse 13.1 64-bit, running a VMware instance of Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit, filezilla open and only consuming 1.3 Gig of RAM…….

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    Why so many? You can read only one at a time

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    You are forgetting about the boatloads of specialty legacy software that is still in use in the business world. Often that software is still in use long after the original developer is gone and moving to a native 64 bit solution would require a complete revamping of their infrastructure. While I agree it would be nice to purge the world of 32-bit x86 legacy code, it still still would require expensive changes for little reward.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 9 years ago

    Except in rare cases there is almost no efficiency gained from native 64bit code. Which is why it’s not gaining traction.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Pretty much.
    Steam engines are legacy and they’re not in widespread use anymore. Just because they’re unsupported by modern legislation and economics doesn’t mean that they suddenly stop working nor does it mean they’re illegal or unusable.

    32-bit software will continue to run on old machines, just as steam engines still function today – but if software deveopers are still relying entirely on 32-bit code over 15 years after the widespread disclosure of the x86-64 instruction set, then they either need to suck it up and get with the times, or fade into obsolescence/extinction.

    Unless I am grossly mistaken, the only reason for legacy support in general is because people are content to use inefficient old methods long after more effective and efficient ways have become available. The words for that are [i<]ignorance[/i<] and [i<]laziness[/i<].

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    People with dozens of browser tabs?

    • strange_brew
    • 9 years ago

    It’s less about actual multi-tasking and more about working set. Windows can suspend or kill background Metro apps as memory pressure increases. This is also common on iOS and Android. Windows allows multiple people to be simultaneously logged into the same tablet (fast user switching), causing more apps to be simultaneously “running”.

    I have a Lenovo Tablet 2 (CloverTrail) tablet with 2GB RAM that my wife and I both use on occasion. When we are both logged in, switching between “running” metro apps becomes very slow because the “running” app has to be relaunched due to it being killed from memory pressure. Having more memory available would make task switching much faster when more apps are “running”.

    There is very little reason, currently, to use 64-bit apps on a tablet, but I would love to have a 64-bit OS with 8GB of RAM.

    Note: I use “running” in quotes because it is a very nebulous term for describing the actual state of a program on any mobile OS.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    My favorite was the little cat that lived on your desktop and would chase the mouse pointer.

    • someuid
    • 9 years ago

    Windows still can’t do half of what OS/2 could do back then.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    “2GB of RAM does limit one’s multitasking options considerably”

    please elaborate. that statement makes no sense. are you just planning to read emails through outlook and have a browser open? its not like angry birds will chew it all up.

    • mczak
    • 9 years ago

    Note this uses a Bay Trail-M chip (Pentium N3520). To my knowledge, only the Bay Trail-T platform and chips (such as Atom Z3770) support connected standby (much more important there for these smaller form factors). So this isn’t really a problem, and this notebook (or whatever it’s called) will just be using ordinary x64 win 8.1.

    • chuckula
    • 9 years ago

    Pshaww OLD MANN… you kuddunt multy-task with that old PoS! It only haz one COAR! You need a BAJILLION coarz to multy-task!! It’s skience!

    • Scrotos
    • 9 years ago

    So pretty much you like Apple’s approach to legacy support.

    • chuckula
    • 9 years ago

    Like Hardware.
    Not like Software.
    Gimme Android64.

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    Plenty of laptops back in the day used to ship with 4GB of RAM and a 32 bit version of Windows and some business system still do.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I think it just annoys me that 32-bit is still so common.

    Having seperate codebases for 32-bit versions of, well – franky [i<]anything[/i<] - seems like a waste. Legacy support is holding back the whole tech industy. If people want to use their old stuff, let them keep their old stuff until it breaks but for the love of all, don't encumber my new stuff with the burden of support for umpteen generations and variants of all that obsolete crap....

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    “2GB of RAM does limit one’s multitasking options considerably.”

    The Atom for Tablets Z3770 supports 4GB of RAM anyway so why would it be limited to 2GB with Win8 32 bit?

    • keltor
    • 9 years ago

    Depending on the system, you might not really lose that much anymore.

    • holophrastic
    • 9 years ago

    yup, getting older.

    • holophrastic
    • 9 years ago

    “…2GB of RAM does limit one’s multitasking options considerably.”

    I multitasked on my pentium 90 more than most people multitask on their tablet.

    Then again, I multi-tasked on my 486 dx2 50MHz via dosswap more than most people multitask on their tablet.

    I had 8MB or RAM. It was more than I could use — after I found the smaller mouse TSR driver.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    It’s a general rule of thumb to design hardware around software, unless if you enjoy taking risks (AMD 3D Now!, Intel IA-64, 3dfx lagging behind on DirectX support, etc).

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Even if it’s the latter, that’s still more usable RAM than 2GB systems have, and in a system that low every little bit helps.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    “there’s a small technical hurdle on the road to 64-bitness: connected standby drivers.”

    Once again, the software guys holding up the hardware……………

    😉

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Posted it in an earlier comments section, but sony’s [url=http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/11/sony-vaio-flip-11a-now-available/<]Bay-Trail powered Vaio Flip 11A[/url<] comes with 4 GB of RAM, which either means they're using x64 Windows 8.1 or losing 1 GB of physical ram to windows 8.1 x86.

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