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Windows XP 64-Bit Edition: First Look

Although there is no 64bit Windows XP with AMD64 technology support, it doesn’t mean that this version is not going to come out one day. Although Microsoft doesn’t mention any exact time frame for this operation system version, they do work on it. At present there are pre-beta releases of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition available. We  managed to get one of these builds numbered as 3790 during our Athlon 64 FX-51 test session.

Please note the “Physical Address Extension” words on the properties window of this version. This phrase indicates that this operation system can work with the current CPU with the addresses of more than 32bit long, which is now of the distinguishing features of this bundle. Also, it is quite possible that Windows XP 64bit Edition is based on the Windows 2003 core and not on the classical XP version. In favor of this approach we can say that the system version for AMD64 processors, which should also work for dual-processor configurations, is expected to support NUMA technology (Non-Uniform Memory Access). The implementation of this particular technology has appeared in Windows 2003 Server.

The impressions made by the Windows XP 64Bit Edition, which we have seen, are more than nice. This system seems to be working faultlessly at first glance. The system includes two applications ported for x86-64 command system. They are: Internet Explorer 6.0 and Outlook Express 6. Other applications are being shipped now in the standard 32bit version.

One of the strengths of the AMD64 architecture is reverse compatibility of the CPUs working in 64bit modes with the 32bit code. This way, the regular 32bit applications can be processed without any problems in Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. However, as far as the drivers are concerned, the situation is somewhat different here. The system can’t work with the old 32bit drivers, and the manufacturers don’t seem to be really hurrying to develop 64bit driver versions for AMD64. By now we managed to get only NVIDIA’s beta drivers for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition.

However, the essence of the 64bit Windows version implies that you can work  not only in standard 32bit applications, which can also be used in the regular Windows XP, but also in specifically written tasks, which know to take real advantage of all AMD64 processor features, such as 64bit addressing, and all 16 64bit general purpose registers. Due to the use of these resources, the tasks ported for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition should theoretically work faster than in case of a standard Windows XP version. Unfortunately, it is still too hard to talk about the efficiency of applications for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. A few software developers expressed their desire to release the corresponding program clones, however, it implies that they should first sell quite a bit of AMD64 based processors together with 64bit operation systems. So far there no official version of the 64bit operation system. Moreover, the CPUs with AMD64 architecture are only starting to penetrate into the market. As a result, the processing speed of 32bit applications in the new 64bit OS is the second most important thing after the actual arrival of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition.

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