The limitations of 32-bit operating systems in an increasingly complex computing world have become significantly constraining. Microsoft’s first 64-bit server operating system—Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-based systems—was designed to remove these constraints for the most demanding database and line-of-business (LOB) applications. The limitations of 32-bit architecture are felt across diverse workloads, increasing the need to bring 64-bit computing to the mainstream.
The broad availability of “x64” processors—the latest processors from AMD and Intel that include 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set—has driven the move to mainstream 64-bit computing. With the release of Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, customers now have industry-standard platforms that combine the power of 64-bit processing with the largest base of applications in the industry.
In this paper, we will look at the foundation for pervasive 64-bit computing, including the performance and security advantages that will let customers do more, faster and safer, than previously possible, while maintaining excellent compatibility with existing 32-bit applications to ease the transition. The following are the key benefits of Windows x64 Editions that we will highlight:
Memory—Support for vastly greater physical memory and virtual memory space enables new scenarios not possible before.
Performance—Improvements in memory management, expanded registers, and I/O subsystems provide substantial performance improvements.
Security—New features in x64 processors enable better protection from malicious code.
Compatibility—The unprecedented compatibility of x64 processors with existing 32-bit applications will enable a controlled transition to 64-bit computing.