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64-bit or 32-bit Intel?

2243 Views 25 Replies Latest reply: Jun 30, 2006 2:38 AM by DrPlokta RSS
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Mark Delgrosso Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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Mar 15, 2006 4:57 AM
I am assuming these new Intel machines are still the old 32-bit style. Is this correct? What are we sacrificing for back stepping? I work in a PC environment office with my G5 and it's amazing how much clearer and brigher my monitor (we all have the same one) looks next to the others.
PowerMac G5 & PowerBook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.5)
  • Bartok19 Calculating status...
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    Mar 15, 2006 5:54 AM (in response to Mark Delgrosso)
    The current Intel chips in the MACs are 32-bit.
  • Jim Bailey Level 3 Level 3 (690 points)
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    Mar 15, 2006 9:59 PM (in response to Mark Delgrosso)
    I am assuming these new Intel machines are still the
    old 32-bit style. ... What are we
    sacrificing for back stepping? I work in a PC
    environment office with my G5 and it's amazing how
    much clearer and brigher my monitor (we all have the
    same one) looks next to the others.


    I'm having a hard time understanding what you are asking. First, the 32-bit v. 64-bit has nothing to do with your display or its brightness. The bit-size is the number of bits the CPU uses internally for math or accessing memory. Unless you do scientific applications or need a large amount of RAM, you probably would never notice the difference between 32-bit or 64-bit.

    The G5 is capable of doing 64-bit but almost nothing has ever used it. Apple only used the 64-bit nature of the G5 to allow access to 8 GB of RAM. You can write command-line applications that use 64-bits but not GUI applications so practically no one has ever used a 64-bit Mac OS X application.

    Finally, there is no "back stepping" because no Mac notebook computer has ever done 64-bit. The PowerBooks were all 32-bit G4s.
    MacBook Pro 2.16 1 GB 100 GB 7200 RPM, Mac OS X (10.4.5), Mac mini 1.42 1 GB; PowerMac 450 MHz (Upgd. 1.2 GHz)
  • Bob Maher Level 3 Level 3 (680 points)
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    Mar 16, 2006 6:01 AM (in response to Jim Bailey)
    AND, to further state the issue, it is my hope that we skip the rush to 64 bit applications until hard drive technology can keep up with it. It is insane to write a power program with the current technology. We need a much faster bus speed and memory architecture before anything is ready for 64 bit.

    This is a discussion we have in my office almost daily! I'm glad the engineers are listening....

    Bob

    PS: Good post Jim!
    MBP 2.16GHz, 100GB 7200 HDD, 2GB RAM, 12"PB, 60GB iPod Video, 4GB iPod Nano, Mac OS X (10.4.5), My MBP is named "Poindexter"
  • Randall Schulz Level 3 Level 3 (800 points)
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    Mar 16, 2006 5:57 PM (in response to Bob Maher)
    Jim,

    As as software engineer who has worked in various application and systems areas and over the era of transition from 16-bit to 32-bit hardware, I can only agree with you that choice of hardware must be dictated by the needs of the use to which it will be put. So clearly for today's desktops (and even more so for laptops), 32-bit hardware is certainly adequate. Whether or not disk speeds are a factor also depends on the application. Obviously, database-intensive applications typically run the mass storage devices ragged. Other applications barely touch the disk once the program and its data are loaded.

    Anyway, what I really wanted to point out, though you're probably aware of this already, is that the new iMac (Intel dual-core model) and the MacBook Pro both use faster memory and memory buses than any of their predecessors (with the possible exception of the heavy-duty G4 or G5 desktops--I'm not really familiar with their hardware details).

    To give you an idea of a result I found surprising (pleasantly so), a theorem prover I've written in Java (a very CPU- and memory-intensive application) runs much faster (about 50% faster) on the iMac with its dual-core 2 GHz processor(s) than it does on the Linux box with an Intel P4 HyperThreading CPU running at 3 GHz. The reason? The RAM and FSB bus on that Linux box are a lot slower than the ones on the iMac. So even though this application, which currently is principally single-threaded (Java apps can always use a processor core for garbage collection), benefits more from the faster FSB and RAM on the iMac than it is hurt by having a processor running only two thirds the speed of the on in the Linux box.

    Randall Schulz

    iMac 20" Core Duo; MacBook Pro   Mac OS X (10.4.5)  
  • Gregg Green1 Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)
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    Mar 20, 2006 2:17 PM (in response to Randall Schulz)
    The confusion for many people comes from all the marketing that was done regarding the move toward 64-bit G5 processors and waiting for applications to support the 64-bit architecture. All of a sudden 64-bit is an afterthought mainly because the speed of the Intel Core Duo is so much faster than the G5. Technology changes the path sometimes. It looks like developers can relax a bit and keep writing 32-bit applications.
    PowerMac G5, Mac OS X (10.4.5)
  • Randall Schulz Level 3 Level 3 (800 points)
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    Mar 20, 2006 6:57 PM (in response to Gregg Green1)
    Gregg,

    I think the real challenge for lots of developers will be to exploit the hardware parallelism of the new multi-core CPUs now becoming common in consumer computing hardware. The era of rapidly rising clock rates is largely over, and from here out performance gains are going to come from exploiting multiple processors sharing a single RAM segment. For many programmers, this requires new techniques and new ways of thinking about programming and software design.

    I suspect that as has been the case many times in the past, the leap forward in hardware capabilities will take the software community a while to assimilate and properly exploit. In the mean time, we can probably look forward to a bump up in bugs related to concurrency issues that never arose in the past.

    Randall Schulz

    iMac 20" Core Duo; MacBook Pro   Mac OS X (10.4.5)  
  • Harold Abbott Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
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    Mar 21, 2006 4:31 PM (in response to Mark Delgrosso)
    I too am shocked to learn the "new" architecture is 32 bit. For intensive graphics applications like those in the Final Cut Pro Suite it would seem advantageous to move data internally in 64 bit words rather than 32 bit on each clock tick. Especially when you have 2GBytes of RAM. Otherwise, why are Sun and Silicon Graphics workstations 64 bit. Disks are not an issue for them, why would they be for us. RAID overcomes the speed limitations of a single spindle.
    Does Apple allow us to know what the archicture of our systems are? I've never seen a drawing published. How wide are the busses? Are they synchronous or asynchronous? Is there any dual ported memory?

    My maxed-out MacBook Pro is now in Anchorage and it just lost a lot of its glitter. I probably should have waited.

    Does any of Apples marketing material warn us that we are going back to 32-bit with the Intel processors? I bet this post doesn't last long!
    Dual 1GHz G4, G4 Titanium, 2.1 Ghz MBP on order, Mac OS X (10.4.5), 1TByte+ of Disk
  • jim farley Level 3 Level 3 (505 points)
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    Mar 21, 2006 7:02 PM (in response to Harold Abbott)
    I wouldn't be too shocked. None of the hardware vendors are hot on 64-bit architectures (including Sun), for many of the reasons mentioned above. Intel couldn't get their 64-bit chips to move on the market because computer and software vendors couldn't justify the migration to their clients (and themselves). Many of the Suns sold today are 32 bit for the same reason. Computer vendors instead are focusing on multi-core and/or multi-CPU architectures. Hence all the latest, greatest laptops are dual-core 32-bit Intels.

    I don't know of any 64 bit laptops, let alone dual-core 64 bit laptops, so I really don't see how this is a step backwards.
  • Randall Schulz Level 3 Level 3 (800 points)
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    Mar 21, 2006 7:44 PM (in response to Harold Abbott)
    Hi,

    Your shock is unwarranted.

    Everything you need to know about the hardware design of Apple's computers is published freely and is available to all potential customers.

    Your "maxed-out" MacBook Pro is a lot faster than any of its predecessors (i.e., Apple laptops). I don't know what you want to wait for. First of all, computers are always getting faster, more capacious and cheaper (at the very least in price-performance ratio terms). Secondly, the best advice has always been to buy a new computer when you need a new computer and when you do buy the best / most powerful machine you can afford at the time. Assuming you needed a new computer more powerful than the one you had before (if any), then you've made a fine choice. If you bought it for some other reason (or thinking it was a supercomputer of some sort), then perhaps you made a mistake.

    Randall Schulz

    iMac 20" Core Duo; MacBook Pro   Mac OS X (10.4.5)  
  • mcowger Level 2 Level 2 (420 points)
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    Mar 21, 2006 7:45 PM (in response to jim farley)
    I wouldn't be too shocked. None of the hardware
    vendors are hot on 64-bit architectures (including
    Sun), f


    Are you nuts? Sun has used the UltraSPARC v9 architecture (which are ALL 64bit) since 1995. Their x86 processors are all 64bit Opterons.

    Sun IS 64bit all the way.
    MacBook Pro 2.0, Mac OS X (10.4.5)
  • Harold Abbott Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
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    Mar 22, 2006 11:01 AM (in response to Randall Schulz)
    I think we're off topic, so I'll add only one more comment. The new Macs are supercomputers. I don't remember the exact numbers, but we're routinely doing realtime graphics on a Mac that were only possible on a Cray a few years back (to me).
    After looking at the Intel web site it's obvious what's happening at Apple. They needed to improve performance on their laptops or lose the market. IBM was not offering a G5 that would meet Apple's requirement for power consumption and heat, so Intel offered-up the Core Duo with a promise for 64 bit "down the road." I'm sure Apple was given prototypes.
    The reason I believe this is that the 32 bit (Centrino) Core Duo IS a step backward for the server market, which is I/O intensive. This is the market that Apple must get a bigger share of if it wants to be taken seriously. Intel is also taking "heat" for lagging behind AMD and IBM in 64 bit technology. It's obvious! 64 bit is in Apple's near future, again.
    So far as my disappointment to learn my MacBook Pro (which is now in Indianapolis) was 32 bit. I feel stupid that something so major slipped past me when I was making the decision to purchase. Had I known, I probably would have still placed the order since my TiBook is no longer suitable for editing with Final Cut Pro Suite. It's just that what I received would have matched my expectations.
    BTW the first Apple I worked with was a II, then a Lisa, etc., etc. OUT!


    Dual 1GHz G4, G4 Titanium, 2.1 Ghz MBP on order   Mac OS X (10.4.5)   1TByte+ of Disk

    Dual 1GHz G4, G4 Titanium   Mac OS X (10.3.8)  
  • Jim Bailey Level 3 Level 3 (690 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 22, 2006 9:52 PM (in response to Harold Abbott)
    The new Macs are supercomputers.


    The definition of "supercomputer" changes with time. A supercomputer of the 70's is a desktop calculator today. The original 450 MHz G4 was a supercomputer according to Apple. Still think so?

    So far as my disappointment to learn my MacBook Pro (which is
    now in Indianapolis) was 32 bit.


    What do you need 64-bit for on your laptop? What laptop are you thinking of that is 64-bit? Unless you really need more than 2 GB of RAM on your laptop or you do unusual scientific calculations, there is little need for 64-bit. Apple only used 64-bit on the G5s to get beyond the 2/4 GB limit. Outside of a very few niche scientific applications, nothing running on the G5 is 64-bit.
    MacBook Pro 2.16 1 GB 100 GB 7200 RPM, Mac OS X (10.4.5), Mac mini 1.42 1 GB; PowerMac 450 MHz (Upgd. 1.2 GHz)
  • Dan Soderholm Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 25, 2006 6:24 AM (in response to Harold Abbott)
    The reason I believe this is that the 32 bit
    (Centrino) Core Duo IS a step backward for the server
    market, which is I/O intensive.


    When did Centrino become part of this? It's a mobile computing chipset, designed mainly to integrate low-power wireless networking into notebook PCs, so of course it's a step down for servers.

    I bought an XServe G5 a couple of months back, and I'm glad I did; maybe it's just OS X vs Windows, but it kicks my Xeon's backside in resource overhead while doing the same job.
    Dual XServe G5, MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.4.5)
  • Christopher M Liberti Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 25, 2006 5:44 PM (in response to Jim Bailey)
    well, not that I need it, but I know that Acer makes one of their Ferrari laptops that is 64 bit AMD
    PowerBook G4 1.67, Mac OS X (10.4.5)
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