IT managers sound hype alerts on 64-bit computing

IT managers sound hype alerts on 64-bit computing

Australian IT managers have thrown 64-bit processor technology in the hype basket claiming it is still too early to consider migrating from 32-bit computing.

While some readers polled by Computerworld said the decision depends on operating system and application support, others said because this level of throughput is only necessary for high-end computing they will stick with 32-bit processors for some time yet.

Baw Baw (Victoria) Shire Council information systems manager Michael De Groot sees no need for his organization to move to 64-bit computing. "Certainly within my industry, 32-bit computing has a few more years left in it at least," De Groot said.

"Given time, I believe 64-bit computing will trickle down from those that use it for high-end computing, but I think it will be a while before that happens."

De Groot said 64-bit systems would only be required in a business that needed to improve throughput in applications, by increasing the amount of memory that can be addressed per transaction.

Ausdoc Information Management IT manager Jay Menon agreed and believes it would serve well in an environment that required graphics.

"Maybe anyone that wants to integrate voice, video and data might also be interested, but we don't have any business applications that would require this,” Menon said.

"But as more and more technical features keep arriving, businesses might need technology with a higher processing speed.”

A senior IT office for a mining organization who requested anonymity said there was no immediate need for the technology but did identify one area of need: geological modelling.

A senior IT officer for a mining organization, who didn’t wish to be named, also believed 64-bit technology was not needed in their organization.

"We have sufficient infrastructure but may consider it when the price comes down," he added.

Business Connexion Group’s Persetel competency product manager for enterprise servers, Graeme Dendy, said the decision to go to 64-bit depends on operating system (OS) and application support.

He said demand in the mid-to-low-end arena will be driven as and when applications, and the Windows operating system, migrate to a 64-bit platform.

But why should anyone needing the additional power wait for Windows, when Linux is here now, and already supports 64-bit computing?

"Microsoft already has a 64-bit version of Windows 2003 Server available to run on Intel's Itanium processors, however the 64-bit Windows/Intel (Wintel) market is not taking as much of the Unix/Risc share as expected," he said.

In fact research released by analyst firms in the past 12 months shows that Linux is gaining traction at the expense of Unix more than Windows.

Dendy agrees that XP adoption rates have been slower than expected, and anticipates a similar trend with 64-bit Windows, which he attributes to cost and support issues.

"For the cost of migrating to an all-64-bit architecture, the difference between Risc and Intel in terms of return on investment and total cost of ownership are not justified yet," he said.

Traditional wisdom says most companies will adopt a migratory approach.

“Traditionally, a server should have a life span of about three to five years. Given the current slump in the ICT market, where CIOs are mandated to sweat assets, and derive as much value from existing investments as possible, the best approach for implementing 64-bit in the business would be first to assess the need and support from a software perspective,” Dendy said.

“Once the business needs for 64-bit have been identified, 32-bit servers should be phased out, and gradually replaced with 64-bit servers when their life cycles end. That shift is going to take quite a while, two to three years before 64-bit replaces 32-bit at the lower end of the server spectrum.”

-with Brian Bakker.

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