More and more customers are calling for 64-bit applications, but I would guess that the experts are still out to see how strong this new "movement" really is or will be.
Let's get some understanding of what 64-bit computing is really all about, before I go into any more details.
One can find many definitions out on the web but I found the following most compelling: " ..."bit" refers to the number of bits (the smallest unit of information on a machine) that can be processed or transmitted in parallel, or the number of bits used for single element in a data format. The term when used in conjunction with a microprocessor indicates the width of the registers; a special high-speed storage area within the CPU. A 32-bit microprocessor can process data and memory addresses that are represented by 32 bits.
64-bit therefore refers to a processor with registers that store 64-bit numbers. A generalization would be to suggest that 64-bit architecture would double the amount of data a CPU can process per clock cycle. Users would note a performance increase because a 64-bit CPU can handle more memory and larger files. One of the most attractive features of 64-bit processors is the amount of memory the system can support. 64-bit architecture will allow systems to address up to 1 terabyte (1000GB) of memory. In today's 32-bit desktop systems, you can have up to 4GB of RAM (provided your motherboard that can handle that much RAM) which is split between the applications and the operating system (OS)."
Unfortunately, most benefits of a 64-bit CPU will go unnoticed without the key components of a 64-bit operating system and 64-bit software and drivers which are able to take advantage of 64-bit processor features. Additionally for the average home computer user, 32-bits is more than adequate computing power.
Matter of fact is though that the majority of desktop computers today don't even have 4GB of memory installed, and most small business and home desktop computer software do not require that much memory either. Plus they will take a considerable amount of time to transition over.
As more complex software and 3D games become available however, we could actually see this become a limitation, but for the average home user that is very far down the road indeed. And this is where we come in...
Many of our applications, including Inventor, AutoCAD, Product Stream Pro etc., are already offering 64-bit ready software. Autodesk Design Review itself has not made this step as yet, but it is in the planning. At this point, our 32-bit application runs on a 64-bit system.
Said that, there are now calls to not only make the application itself ready, Autodesk Design Review, but also offer the accompanying plug-ins for 64-bit platforms. It is unclear to us as to how many of you are really requesting this capability for the plug-ins.
Are you using the JT and/or DGN Importer(s)? And if so, how soon do you plan on moving to 64-bit platforms?
It would be great if you could share your feedback here or send an email to [email protected], should you prefer to do so.