The second problem is the lack of appropriate software. Although, one of the strengths of AMD64 architecture is its backward compatibility with 32bit software. Therefore, this is no fatal problem at all. Most 32bit tools and utilities work fine with Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems due to the so-called WOW64 (Windows-on-Windows) emulator, which transfers the CPU from the native 64bit mode into the compatibility mode, so that the application can manipulate the CPU registers and address the memory in 32bit format. During the tests we carried out for various 32bit programs we revealed just a few issues. The first one had to do with the failing installation of Windows Media Encoder 9 with all the resulting consequences, while all other issues were connected with different artifacts popping up in 3D games every now and then. Of course, it was the graphics card driver that was responsible for the latter problems.
At the same time, the variety of software developed specifically for 64bit mode of AMD64 processors will keep increasing. Some programs are already available today, although there are very few of them, I should say. In particular, we know about 64bit versions of TweakUI Power Toys utility, Sun Java 2 platform and beta version of Computer Associates eTrust Antivirus.
Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems operation system looks very much like Windows 2003 and not like Windows XP. It looks as if they used exactly the Windows 2003 code when they were working on the Windows XP version with AMD64 support. The OS includes a set of 64bit DirectX 9.0b libraries and a set of standard programs ported for AMD64 architecture. It is a pretty curious fact that Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems includes not only a 64bit version of Internet Explorer 6.0, but also a classical 32bit version of this program. Also the 64bit Windows XP package will include a number of critical updates absent in the standard Windows XP SP1 package for 32bit systems.
I would also like to say a few words about the test system, which we used for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems testing. The thing is that the standard platform configuration didn’t suit our goals this time, as we failed to find corresponding drivers for a few components of our system. That is why we had to replace an ATI based graphics card with an NVIDIA based one. As a result, Athlon 64 FX-53 was tested on the following system:
- CPU: AMD Athlon 64 FX-53;
- Mainboard: ASUS SK8V (VIA K8T800);
- Memory: 1024MB Registered DDR400 SDRAM (Mushkin High Performance ECC Registered 2 x 512MB, 2-3-2-6);
- Graphics card: Sparkle GeForce FX5900XT (Detonator 53.04).
- HDD: Western Digital WD400JB.
In order to finish our story about the preliminary version of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems in a logical manner, we decided to test AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 processor in this operation system during the processing of 32bit and 64bit applications.