Similarly, MESoft, another media technology company that offers software and services for the feature film and television broadcast industries, found it was able to encode, encrypt, and compress high definition media almost in real time on the 64-bit Opteron platform. “Previously, it took six hours to compress one hour of video,” says CEO Mark Kapczynski.
Porting challenges remain
As with any platform migration, moving operating systems and applications to 64-bit processors causes organizations to bump up against unforeseen issues. For example, the Performance Tuning/Dell testing previously cited actually found decreased query performance with a 64-bit configuration, which it eventually traced to a flawed Fibre Channel driver. Driver issues will probably be less severe in server environments than with the plethora of different desktop configurations in many enterprises, however, and 64-bit versions of Windows ship with a hefty supply of drivers. Still, migrating to the new platform will not necessarily be as easy as simply ripping and replacing CPUs.
“Thirty-two-bit applications that violate the user kernel space will have trouble running on 64-bit platforms,” says AMD’s Lewis. "AutoCAD has lots of plug-ins that want to address the same memory as the application. If AutoCAD goes 64-bit, all those plug-ins will have to be upgraded as well to function properly.”
“The challenge for writing 64-bit code is to make sure it’s actually taking advantage of all the 64-bit performance benefits,” says MESoft’s Kapczynski. “You need hard-core programmers that really understand memory management, and you have to keep iterating and testing. It took us three times longer than we expected, but that is the nature of development on a new platform.”
The users we talked to, however, had relatively few problems with their migrations. "We had some issues with Fibre Channel drivers and with full-text indexing of SQL Server, but they were quickly resolved,” says MySpace’s Whitcomb. “Installing 64-bit Windows and SQL Server took about a day.”
Agnostic’s Turner agrees. "We had some minor driver incompatibilities, but in my experience, the platform is mature and ready for prime time.”
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