Vista 64? a query from Jim Sogi

November 12, 2007 |

Bill GatesI'm getting an Intel Core Q6666 and 2Gig RAM. Should I get Vista Ultimate 64bit version? Or just the 32bit Business version? This is for heavy number crunching and trading.

Tony Corso explains:

Unless you have a 64bit application [or you're writing you own code with a 64bit compiler] a 64bit OS won't buy you much of anything. And 64bit Vista has far fewer hardware drivers than the 32bit version. In fact, if you are using purchased software, you might find it runs faster under XP-Pro than under Vista.

As to the processor, there is a relatively cheap 2.6GHZ Quad Core Intel chip [about $275 on NewEgg; the 2.8GHz 'extreme' Intel Quad Core is more than twice as expensive]. Get one of those, and get 4Gig of RAM [make sure your motherboard can see it].

Multiple cores won't do much for you if the software isn't designed to use 'em. At the OS level, Vista automatically assigns my Firefox browser and Excel spreadsheet to different cores, and at the application level Excel2007 'auto-magically' multithreads cell recalculations across multiple cores.

And when considering motherboards, the more recent Intel motherboards have hardware RAID controllers built in [data spread amongst Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives so if any one drive fails your machine doesn't care and your data are safe].

You might want to consider chaining four drives to that controller so that you won't be gnashing your teeth when you get the inevitable middle of the trading day hard drive hiccup.

Matthew Chlapowski adds:

I was investigating the same problem just a few days ago. To answer your question, 64bit Windows Vista is unlikely to offer you any performance improvement with just 2Gig of RAM. You would have to invest in hardware with at least twice that much RAM, if not four times, to see any improvement. Eventually systems will come with that much memory, but there is little software out there that takes advantage of the added power of such a setup, and few motherboards support it. I would just stick with the Business 32bit version right now, and maybe think about upgrading in a couple of years. That is, unless you are willing to pay top dollar for a system that supports at least 8Gig of RAM , and for the software designed to use it.

Definitely do get an Intel quad-core processor like the Q6600 for number crunching. I've seen benchmarks on those processors and they absolutely smoke anything else available. Benchmarks with Fritz 10 Chess (one of the most intensive number crunching applications on the market) showed Intel quad core processors completing calculations at nearly twice the speed of any other processor you can buy. Don't even think about getting anything else.

Naturally, newer and better things are always in the pipeline, but you have to pull the trigger and buy sometime!


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