In the lab: Will Smith Experiments with 64-bit Vista

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In the lab: Will Smith Experiments with 64-bit Vista

Listeners of the No BS podcast know that I’ve spent the last two months experimenting with 64-bit Vista on a system with more than 2GB of memory. That’s right, I took my trusty XP/Vista x86 dual boot and borked the entire thing by adding a couple gigs of memory and installing an OS that’s still facing some serious growing pains.

The first problem was stability—the machine crashed at the drop of a hat and Windows rapidly became corrupted. After reinstalling Windows for the nth time, I finally installed components one at a time and was able to determine that my Creative X-Fi card was the culprit. With the X-Fi removed, and onboard sound enabled, everything was much better, or so I thought.

Next up was suspend. While the suspend functionality in 32-bit Vista works flawlessly, I experienced crashes when suspending and resuming in 64-bit mode. I first theorized that the problem was due to my memory configuration. I’d populated all four banks on my motherboard to reach 4GB of RAM, which can cause stability problems. To counter that, I popped two 2GB Patriot DIMMs from the Lab into the test machine—to no avail. The machine still frequently crashes on suspend and resume operations.

What’s the upshot? After at least 10 complete reinstalls of Vista, a switch to onboard sound, a new motherboard or two, and the sacrifice of several chickens, I still can’t suspend or sync my iPod (one of the many incompatible operations I’ve tried). I’m giving up, at least for now. While performance felt moderately better than with 32-bit Vista, especially on apps that can use more than 2GB of memory, the benchmarks didn’t show it, and frankly 64-bit isn’t worth the hassle.

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cjscully

At the risk of stepping on the toes of those who have been successfully using 64-bit Vista, I don't think that 64-bit Windows will suitable for widespread day-to-day use until it is more or less the only Windows version available. In my opinion Microsoft would need to follow a similar path to the one they took in going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 then to 98. Wikipedia refers to those as hybrid 16/32-bit environments and I'd agree with that label. Each iteration was a step away from DOS and 16-bit computing. XP of course was built on the NT kernel which was a 32 bit OS from its inception.

An even better way they could go about it (but probably won't) is to just say, "next version of windows will be 64-bit only and will not run on 32-bit machines." They probably wouldn't lose much in terms of sales or adoption because 64-bit CPUs have already been around for years.

Right now, Microsoft treats 64-bit Windows as the red-haired step-child or an experiment or both. Until that changes we won't see the widespread application and driver support necessary to make it really usable. (If it were the mainstream version of Windows and Nvidia drivers were causing crashes, I'd guess that they'd be a lot faster at finding and fixing the problem than they have been to date.)

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teh 1337 haxxor

I just got Vista 64 Home Premium about a week ago, and I have had NO problems with it at all. My Ipod syncs with my computer just fine. Everything works well. I love gaming with DX10. Crysis...amazing.

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scottwilkins

Will, was your machine based on nVidia stuff? check this out:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080324-vista-capable-lawsuit-paints-picture-of-buggy-nvidia-drivers.html

Turns out nVidia drivers are a third of ALL vista crash reports to Microsoft. Try ATI in 64-bits and get back to us again. I bet your experience will be 100% different.

Scott
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This is my sig...

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DarkHelmet

Dunno if this would solve the suspend/resume issue, but I know on XP I have seen noticable performance increases when you disable the swap file on systems with 4GB of memory. (For the those reading that do not know, Windows defaults to setting your swap file to be 1.5 times the ammount of RAM you have. Do the math and thats a lot of useless data constantly being written back and forth to your hard drive.)

Not sure if Vista even has the option to disabled the swap file, but thought it was worth a mention.

-Helmet

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michaelbart0n

I just started using vista64 business with sp1 and have had no major problems, especially not with drivers or hardware. All my hardware works great, but a couple of games won't update properly. I also have an x-fi card. Will, have you tested sp1 for vista 64 yet? Is sp1 stable?

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Costanza

I have been running Vista 64 for about 8 months now and I have yet to have one problem with it corrupting or even crashing. The wierd thing is I also have an X-fi card and 4GB of ram installed I have yet to have one single crash, whats with all the vista bashing around here.

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rb3m

I've had a pretty good experience using 64-bit Vista for almost a year now. Although drivers were rare at first, now I even have my Asus P-7131 TV Tuner working with PowerCinema 5, and the nvidia drivers for the 8600 GTS seem a lot better than they used to be.

Granted, my components are not that hot, I use the onboard sound and only have 2GB of RAM; but I have found surprisingly few problems. Stability was an issue at first, but the October-November updates seem to have fixed that almost completely (though there's the occasional crash, but what windows doesn't crash occasionally?).

Gameswise, I haven't had any problem with newish games (Crysis, Bioshock, Medieval II, Oblivion) or even older ones (SimCity 4, FIFA 2004, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed!). Some have required a bit of tweaking (Silent Hunter III, IL-2, Empire Earth only works at 640x400). Ironically the only ones that just plainly refuse to run are the Combat Flight Simulators from MS.

In general my experience with Vista has been pretty good. But that's just me, maybe I'm lucky.

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