I recently tested WindowsXP Pro x64 to see how it compared to the 32bit WindowsXP Pro. The results were interesting. The test bed was as follows:
This was tested on Microsoft windows flight simulator as that is the game i mainly use but the results will probably be pretty similar to other games
Asus A8V Deluxe
A64 3700+ San Diego core overclocked = 2752 MHz = (11x 250) @ 1000x2 HT
ATI AIW x800 AGP @ 520 GPU - 520 MEM
2GB OCZ rated @ 2-3-2-5, running 2.5-3-3-5 with 5:3 divider (211.6 MHz)
WindowsXP Pro corporate 32bit - and - WindowsXP Pro corporate 64bit: in dual boot configuration.
What I found was that both operating systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Individual benchmarks of the memory and CPU remained the same for both operating systems however Windows x64 will enable the full abilities of the motherboard in the CPU-Memory/cache. A 9000+ point increase in the Sandra cache/memory benchmark was found. That advantage allows for a significant increase in throughput performance between the memory and CPU.
Total (final result) 3Dmark benchmark numbers remained the same for both operating systems, however, the x64 total result was comprised of LOWER scores for the 3D load tests and HIGHER scores for the CPU load tests. In other words, the x64 operating system increases the memory/CPU performance and lowers the 3D. The result is a total (final result) benchmark score which is equal for each operating system.
Benchmarks are good for gauging a system but are not real world performance tests. I installed FS9 and imported my original Flight Simulator 9 folder (and all configuration files) from Windows x32 into the Windows x64 install to assure both test beds were equal. (same textures, scenery, aircraft, add-on, etc). I then created and saved a flight that had the same aircraft, flight path, traffic, weather, time, etc, conditions and ran a 15 minute flight test on each operating system. All display settings were equal for each test and frames are locked @ 28:
PMDG 747 with Nicks AI Exhaust
KSEA @ 12noon (very busy) with 100% UT traffic running
WEATHER set to: REAL WORLD which produced very heavy cloud cover in both test flights
NOTE: My graphics card was set to 4x FSAA and 16x AF and 100% high quality for all other settings. I set up the test for ultra high quality and extreamly high 3D load in FS9 in order to force severe frame rate drops and note the differences.
Flight Simulator frame rates were equal in both Windows x32 and Windows x64 but there was a difference!! Windows x64 ran visually smoother and loaded textures visually faster than Windows x32. At equal selected points in the flights where maximum loads were achieved, each test resulted in frame rate drops of equal value (from 28fps to 15-19fps). The reduced frame rate loads in the Windows XP 32bit tests were distinctly choppy and had much more stutter than the same load points in Windows x64. The extreme high load points had ½ or less the visual impact on the smoothness of the simulation. Texture loads were practically instantaneous on the x64 OS as compared to Windows x86. The significant CPU/Memory cache performance of Windows x64 provides a distinct edge Flight Simulator can use.
So does this mean I will switch over to WindowsXP x64? Along with the positive elements there were some downfalls to Windows x64:
Although all the 64bit drivers for the hardware in my system were available, many hardware drivers for Windows x64 are still in their infancy.
Windows XP x64 emulates 32bit programs and although most 32bit programs will run using the WOW emulator system in WindowsXP x64, there are some 32bit programs that simply will not work or will malfunction. Pure and true 64bit software is also just starting to become of age. The 64bit applications I tested worked flawlessly and very, very fast. 32bit software did not run anywhere near as fast but it still got performance boots during some operations because of the increased cache performance the 64bit operating system provides by fully unlocking the 64bit hardware. The multimedia software for my AIW ATI card would not run at all on x64. There are alternative x64 TV software options available however many of the AIW card features are useless until ATI releases x64 multimedia software. I had to update my disk defragmenter software to x64 in order to properly maintenance and optimize the system.
I found WindowsXP x64 very stable… when not significantly overclocked. The same stable overclock settings I have used with the 32bit version of WindowsXP for a year netted a few intermittent lockups on the x64 OS. This could also be driver related however the type of lockups (no error, BSOD or memory dump) indicate both the CPU and memory bus were unstable at high O/c, probably due to the bus being maxed out in full 64bit operation. Given the performance increases with 64bit operation, backing off the FSB 10 MHz to stabilize the OS will not cause any loss of performance.
Windows x64 requires more memory be installed to accomplish the same job because of the way it pages the system. I found after running FS9 the peak memory used in the x64 OS was 400mb higher than in the 32bit version: (32bit = 1.1gb peak - 64bit = 1.5gb peak) Although x64 will run on lower memory amounts, 2GB would be the least I would use for 3D applications. The page file should also be a minimum of 2-3x the physical memory installed so a larger HDD would be an asset for x64. PCI-E would probably benefit from x64 more than AGP however I cannot verify that since I have no PCI-E systems to test. UDMA disk performance was definitely better using x64 and there are options available in the device manager to further increase UDMA HDD performance.
64bit Windows is really the way to go however until drivers and software catch up with the hardware technology, the full advantage of x64 will not be realized. Given Windows Vista will be released around the end of the year and I would think 3D software will also follow suit by then, it would probably be best to wait until Visa is released before making the x64 plunge however given Microsoft has suggested they will be discontinuing support for WindowsXP Home Edition after Vista is released, it may be wise to consider a move to x64 in order to get a head start toward using x64 and installing Windows Vista.
You can download a free trial of WindowsXP x64 from Microsoft.com which will allow 180 days of full operation. If you do decide to try x64 I would suggest the following:
1. Make sure you research and collect ALL the x64 drivers for your hardware. (motherboard, video card, sound drivers, etc)
2. If you do not intend to dual boot, make sure the important software applications you need and must use will run in the x64 operating system. Most 32bit programs will run fine but there are some that will not or are handicapped by the 64bit OS.
3. I found there were some issues with dual boot when the 64bit OS is not on the "C" drive. I ran WindowsXP x64 on my "F" RAID drive and there were some problems with services not starting because they could not find the service driver files in C:WindowsSystem32. If you intend to dual boot I would recommend after installing x64 to use the "Computer Management" part of the Administration tools in WindowsXP to change the partition the x64 OS is installed on to "C" and manually edit the boot.ini file for that change. That modification will require technical knowledge of how to accomplish the task without damaging the system boot.
To wrap it up… There has been a 'tweak' posted on the net about installing FS on a separate HDD with a WindowsXP installation, running only FS9. Although the performance gains from doing that are in my mind questionable to say the least, doing that with WindowsXP x64 would most likely increase FS9 performance assuming the x64 driver support for your hardware is good.
You must be using an x64 processor and motherboard in order to run WindowsXP x64
I have found all my 3D applications run significantly smoother during excessive high loads as compared to WindowsXP Pro 32bit. In my opinion, as x64 driver development continues to improve so will performance. Also, since the x64 architecture will be implemented as a permanent fixture I decided it is a good time to not only get acquainted with x64, but to move over to x64 as my primary OS so when Windows Visa (and other x64 based programs) are released I would be ready for the upgrade without the typical questions and minimal hassles involved in such a move.
I will periodically report my findings in this thread as I become aware of issues however at this point the following should be noted:
1. As of now, 1/16/2005, there are no SAFE "deep clean" registry programs. Although there are several registry maintenance programs on the market that "CLAIM" they work with WindowsXP x64, out of the 15 I tested which says they work with x64, I found only ONE that was "SAFE" and that did not delete or damage system files the WindowsXP x64 registry. That program was the freeware application: REGCLEANER 4.3 build 780. I use REGISTRY MECHANIC v5.0 for the 32bit version of Windows as it is a very comprehensive cleaning application and even though it is listed as working with x64, the REGISTRY MECHANIC will delete critical system files in the cleanup process. BE AWARE that maintenance software can destroy or damage WindowsXP x64 and that you should always make a backup of your registry prior to running any type of maintenance software on WindowsXP x64 until you are sure it is safe to use the software.
2. The same maintenance software issues were found with DISK DEFRAGMENT software. Even though RAXIO says PERFECT DISK 7.0 (build 46) is designed and will run on x64, it DOES NOT optimize Windows boot as it does in the 32bit version. You must disable the BOOT OPTIMIZER options in PERFECT DISK or it will make the WindowsXP x64 boot significantly slower. As of this date I have yet to find any DISK DEFRAGMENTER that correctly optimizes WindowsXP x64 for boot. Microsoft BOOTVIS will run in x64 but does not do as good of a job as compared to using it in Windows 32bit however it is the only software I have found to date that improves the x64 boot time.
3. The only application I use that would not run in x64 was my ATI AIW x800 multimedia software, which includes the TV. The TV software is the only part of MMC I need or use so unfortunately I cannot use the ATI software for the TV tuner on the card. On the up side, there are several 3rd party x64 TV tuner software options and I found the best to be CHRIS TV as it was stable and provides 10 times the tuning / recording options the original ATI MMC software does. All other features of my ATI AIW card, such as capture and HDTV output, work flawlessly in x64.
4. The 64-bit version of Internet Explorer is incredibly secure as compared to the 32-bit version. Both 32 and 64 bit versions are included with WindowsXP x64 and the 32bit version must be used for WINDOWS UPDATE. The system will automatically switch over to 32bit IE when accessing WINDOWS UPDATE. The 64bit version does not allow for any ActiveX control installation and most spyware cannot attach itself to the 64bit version. It takes a bit of getting use to not seeing Macromedia Flash content (which in most cases is just annoying advertisements) but whenever it is necessary to use a FLASH enabled website, the 32bit version of IE can be booted and used. At first I though this was a bit of a hassle but now I actually prefer the increased security as I do not visit many sites where I must use FLASH to access the site or features a site might provide. I now use the 64bit version of IE by default for all web browsing.
5. As software is installed the x64 OS will automatically determine if it is x64 or x32. With WindowsXP x64 there are TWO "Program Files" folders in the root directory; "Program Files" and "Program Files (x86)". Any 64bit software automatically installs to "Program Files" and any x32bit software automatically installs to "Program Files (x86)".
6. There were some error messages in the EVENT VIEWER I had to resolve which pertained to some of my older software applications. By using GOOGLE I was able to track down resolutions to the 5 error messages and fix the problems. None of the errors were critical or caused any system crashes however I like to make sure all errors in the event viewer are resolved if possible and there is one error I could not completely remove. 3DMArk 03-05 will produce an ENTECH service error message when 3DMark is booted which will not cause any system problems or any problems running the software, however, on SOME systems it was reported the file pcibus.sys installed by 3DMark-0X must be disabled in the C:WINDOWSSysWOW64Drivers folder after 3DMark is installed by renaming it: PciBus.sys.OLD or the system would crash when 3DMark was booted. I did not have that problem but disabled the pcibus.sys file anyway to get rid of the error message I was getting about it in the event viewer.
7. The unstable maximum overclock I reported earlier is no longer an issue. I discovered the problem was indeed driver related and was caused by the OS not being installed on the "C" drive with driver related services not being correctly enabled due to the OS looking for the service drivers in the C:Windows directory. BE AWARE that you should only install WindowsXp x64 on the C: Partition, even if dual booting. For dual boot this can be done by physically removing all HDD with WINDOWS XP installed except the HDD you intend to install x64 on. Once x64 is installed you can reinstall the other HDD's and boot to the x64 OS which will find the drives and correct the drive letter assignments automatically. The BIOS boot order screen (most systems have this feature on a shortcut key) can be used to boot to the different OS installs without having to edit the boot.ini files. If you are experience with WindowsXP you can write a custom boot.ini file (as I did) to be able to boot to either OS when desired and without using the BIOS boot options.
My overclock is now completely stable as it is with Windows x32
Unlike WindowsXP x32, x64 is not automatically set up for boot optimizing and BOOTVIS DOES NOT WORK on x64. The following method makes x64 boot and run like a rocket.
Install O&O Defrag PROFESSIONAL v8.0 for x64 (MAKE SURE IT IS THE x64 version): http://www.oo-software.com
The x64 version is BETA right now but works fine... it also is PAYWARE (45 bucks) but will work (FULLY FUNCTIONAL) for 30 days FREE. After installation DO NOT RUN IT YET... follow the instructions below...
After installing x64 and ALL YOUR SOFTWARE:
Make sure "Enable" is set to: "N"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory ManagementPrefetchParameters
0x00000002= boot prefetching
Browse to and clean everything out of:
The reboot, click START, RUN and copy paste the following exactly as typed into the RUN box and hit OK:
.... wait until disk activity stops (5-10seconds) and reboot twice.
SYSTEM PROPERTIES - ADVANDED TAB - PERFORMANCE BUTTON - ADVANCED TAB - VIRTUAL MEMORY (CHANGE BUTTON)
Set the system to NO PAGE FILE.... then Hit SET - APPLY and REBOOT x64 with no page file.
Once rebooted, go back to the page file area as listed above and SET YOUR PAGE FILE TO A STATIC (EQUAL AMOUNT) WHICH IS 3 OR 4 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF PHYSICAL MEMORY (ram) YOUR SYSTEM HAS.
UNLIKE x32, Windows 64-bit NEEDS MORE PHYSICAL MEMORY AND A LARGE PAGEFILE TO BE 100% EFFICENT
Then Hit SET - APPLY and REBOOT
RUN O&O Defrag Pro v8.0 x64
The most important defrag is the first 2 runs of this program.
When the program first runs it will ask you to set up for AUTOMATIC DEFRAG... DO NOT SELECT AUTOMATIC
Once in the program, select the x64 drive.. then go to the FILE MENU and select OPTIONS
On the TUNING TAB, select:
Bullet in- O&O AUTOSENSE - Automatic determination of optimal resource usage
Bullet in- SEQUENTIAL - Process all volumes one by one
Check in - OPTIMIZE FILE LAYOUT ACCORDING TO "LAYOUT.INI"
Leave the OFFLINE DEFRAGMENT DISABELD FOR NOW
On the DEFAGMENTATION MENU Select:
....method of DEFRAGMENTING: This will take some time to complete. Once completed, reboot the system.
Once rebooted, MY COMPUTER - Right click the x64 hard drive.. Select PROPERTIES, then TOOLS:
Under ERROR CHECKING, SELECT CHECK NOW... then place a check in: AUTOMATICALLY FIX SYSTEM FILE ERRORS. Leave the other box unchecked.. hit START. Windows will prompt for a BOOT TIME CHECK... select YES, and REBOOT
Once the DiskChk is complete and x64 has rebooted... run O&O Defrag...
Once in the program, select the x64 drive.. then go to the FILE MENU and select OPTIONS
On the OFFLINE DEFRAGMENT, ENABLE IT for your x64 partition, then select EXECUTE ONCE DURING NEXT SYSTEM STARTUP and hit APPLY
reboot the system and let the OFFLINE DEFRAG RUN.. once rebooted, run O&O defrag...
Then, On the DEFAGMENTATION MENU Select:
and let the SPACE type defrag run... once complete, your All Finished
From this point on the: COMPLETEMODIFIED method need only be run once a month (or every 90 days) depending on your use. In between run the SPACE defrag once a week (or every two weeks) to keep the system 100%
WindowsXP x64 may need to be rebooted again to clear the memory.
Once all of the above is done, return the system to PREFETCH OPTIMIZATION by going back and resetting the system:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory ManagementPrefetchParameters
0x00000003= boot + Programs prefetching
What popular programs for sure DON'T work on XP64?
Actually... I remembered one other bugger, CD burn software... it must be x64 driver certified.
I had to upgrade my NERO burning software to x64 support. The WindowsXP burner works fine but ANY AND ALL 3rd PARTY CD BURNING software must be designed with x64 driver support.
You cannot UPGRADE the software from x32 to x64,.. it must be a full install of the x64 supported burn software
After flying for several days (all scenery sliders to maximum, ultra high aircraft settings and above ultra high settings for weather/clouds) in and out of many busy airports (LAX, KSEA, Chicago, Heathrow, New York) with 92% Ultimate Traffic (w/ all GA traffic enabled) I must say WindowsXP x64 has earned my respect for delivering the resources I was missing in XP x32.
Comparing the two operating systems in dual boot and flying the same routes (IFR flight plans and same time and day) with the PMDG 747-400 and Real World weather enabled, even the extreme frame drops (sometimes as low as 11fps) were no where near as visually choppy and annoying in x64... texture loads were 2X-4X faster and in many cases I did not even see the texture load take place.
Booting the program, FS9 tends to load a bit slower in x64 but once loaded there is no mistaking the difference in performance.