Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Newsflash - Microsoft Into 64-bit Computing

Saw the following blurb on an RSS feed for a Computerworld article:

"it could take years for 64-bit computing to become pervasive in their companies."

I just thought that was ironic since our main business applications have been running 64-bit for years. In fact, I thought I would get out an old book I have here at the office titled Inside the AS/400 by Frank G. Soltis. I have the edition from way back in 1997:

"The AS/400 is the first and only system in the world to have completed the transition to 64-bit computing.... The challenge for the computer industry is how to enable existing software to take advantage of the new hardware designs. The AS/400 is the only system to have met this software challenge - all AS/400 applications are fully 64-bit enabled. No one else is even close.... In contrast, the AS/400's technology-independent architecture protects the system's customers and ISVs from such disruptions as they move to the new 64-bit RISC processors. Existing application software can immediately use the full capabilities of the new hardware." (Inside the AS/400, pp. 1-2)

Then on page 206 we find this: "Our original RISC processor that we started to design in 1990, which we called C-RISC (the C was for commercial), had a 96-bit address. We had the room for this large address in the pointers and decided to go all the way. When we decided to use the PowerPC architecture in 1991, we scaled the address back to 64 bits."

Even new applications to our company such as Lotus Domino (we switched from mostly Outlook POP mail in 2002) now running on our iSeries (formerly AS/400 currently i5) are 64-bit. One interesting quote in that article from Computerworld was:

"One application that will not be supported on x64 Windows is Exchange Server 2003, according to John Borozan, a senior product manager in the Windows Server group. He said a portion of the application runs as a kernel mode driver and any code touching the Windows kernel must be 64-bit."

So, from recent quotes from Microsoft, they will not be updating Exchange 2003 until probably the late 2006 timeframe. This means two things - (1) Exchange 2003 will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of 64-bit hardware, and (2) Microsoft will not have a 64-bit corporate mail platform for about 2 more years. I know that Microsoft is sometimes an easy target, but it is true that the blame doesn't lie with them. To their credit they could only move their CISC-based software and OS to 64-bit when the processors would support 64-bit.

Since Microsoft's direction is 64-bit in 2005, I'm happy to say that we have been ahead of the Microsoft curve for nearly a decade by going with IBM! That's one good thing when dealing with a company that not only produces the software but the hardware and processors.

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