“The most notable breakthrough of the 64-bit platform is that the 4 Gig memory limit will increase to at least 128 Gig and may go upward of half a terabyte! Recording directly to and playing directly from static RAM will be fully viable. Virtual orchestras that needed five computers to run will be able to run on one. Sample playback performance will be greatly enhanced as an enormous amount of sample files can be stored in static RAM and hard drive streaming will become a non-issue. 64-bit also promises to reduce latency to almost zero, eliminating timing issues with overdubbing and synchronization.
But what makes a system 64-bit?
Well, both the processor and operating system must operate at 64-bit. Although 64-bit hardware has been out for about a year, Microsoft Windows XP 64-bit Edition did not officially launch until April 2005 and was released only to computer manufacturers. The 64-bit edition of Windows XP will not be supplied directly to customers as an upgrade or full package. It will only be available on a new system.
On the processor side, Intel has the EMT64, and the Pentium D, which is 64-bit capable AND a dual-core processor consisting of two processors on a single chip.
But if you’re asking if you should BUY a 64-bit system now?
Know that it’s important to consider the benefits of 64-bit and honestly evaluate how important they are to you. For the majority of professional users, current 32-bit systems are extremely stable and powerful. If you don’t need more than 4 Gig of memory (which most applications still can’t address), you may have difficulty justifying the extra cost and limited availability of hardware and software for 64-bit at this time. Even though it has been officially released, Windows XP 64-bit is still early adopter technology with only a handful of manufacturers supplying software, hardware, and drivers for this new ‘ground up’ OS.
Another consideration is backward compatibility. Although Windows XP 64-bit can emulate a 32-bit operating environment for legacy software applications, it does not support 32-bit hardware drivers, which means that manufacturers must choose to provide new 64-bit drivers for their legacy products in order for them to work at all.”