While the countdown for the Athlon 64 chip from AMD has already started, support from various important developers is gradually increasing.
According to AMD's Marty Seyer, Microsoft will be releasing a 64 compatible version of Windows either in Q4, 2003 or Q1, 2004. The figures suggested by the company's VP actually represent a delay since he expects a beta version of Windows to be available for testing in Q3, 2003 while Microsoft had planned a Q2, 2003 beta release. With both desktop and server versions of, 64-bit optimized, windows promised, AMD are now beginning to look for support from the world of gaming.
Game developers are very willing to provide such support because game development stands to gain, technologically by the introduction of 64-bit precessing. The main advantage offered by the architecture is the ability to process more than 4 Gb of memory, the current limit for 32-bit processing. According to analysts only 20 per cent of servers and about 5 per cent of desktops stand to gain any noticable advantage from using the new design of processor. The fact that the new chips will run 32-bit applications however, makes those chips extremely attractive to computer enthusiasts.
64-bit processors will however, offer great improvements when running video and in gaming by keeping complex 3D backgrounds and large chunks of video in memory. Utilizing that potential will take some time though and such applications and games are not expected for another 1.5 to 2 years. Epic's founder Tim Sweeney claims his company is already working on a 64-bit game, not Unreal Tournament, which will feature photorealistic textures.
It will be a year and a half before you see lots of consumer products, he added.
For the time being Epic Games have promised a patch for the 32-bit version of Unreal Tournament 2003 that will allow the game to take full advantage of the processor's 64-bit capabilities.
It is all 100 percent 64-bit code, promises Sweeney.
With 64-bit Linux already released and Windows on its way and with Intel not certain on what to do it seems that AMD is counting on the technological edge offered by its Athlon 64 desktop and the Opteron, the 64-bit server chip, to appeal to our constant craving for speed.