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Microsoft Windows XP 64-Bit Edition

May 2001


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User Scenarios
Benefits of 64-bit Windows
Differences between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows
ISV Commitment
System Requirements
The Future of 64-bit Computing


The ever-expanding data needs of business, academic, engineering and scientific organizations push the limits and the capabilities of existing information technology platforms. Today, gigabytes or even terabytes of data need to be accessed in real time by millions of users worldwide, and new technology is needed to meet this demand.

The 64-bit Microsoft® Windows® platform will provide high availability, advanced scalability and large memory support based on the Intel® Itanium™ processor family with its extensive multiprocessing features, powerful floating-point arithmetic extensions (up to 6.4 GFLOPS @800MHz when tuned for 3-D graphics performance) and multimedia-specific instructions.

The initial release of the Intel Itanium processor, previously code-named Merced, will primarily be deployed as a development and evaluation platform and by early adopter customers who are pushing the memory limitations of 32-bit systems. Customers only using 32-bit applications and not working with data sets larger than 2 GB will find that 32-bit systems continue to be the best environment for those applications.

User Scenarios

Windows XP 64-Bit Edition and the Intel Itanium processor family are designed to address the most demanding business needs of today's Internet-based world, including e-commerce, data mining, online transaction processing, memory-intensive high-end graphics, complex mathematics and high-performance multimedia applications. Specific business segments that will benefit from 64-bit Windows include the following:

Digital Content Creation

2-D and 3-D animation and rendering, video editing and game development are three major areas of the Digital Content Creation (DCC) segment that will benefit from the additional memory, increased memory I/O speeds and improved floating-point performance of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition on Intel Itanium.

Additional computing power provides game developers and animators with the ability to decrease time spent rendering models or scenes, resulting in less time spent waiting to do further development. It also allows them to work with fully-rendered 3-D models, rather than a smaller wire frame representation of the model. The ability to view models completely rendered during the development process gives animators and developers the freedom to work at their peak level of creativity.

Mechanical Design and Analysis (CAD/CAM/CAE)

Computer aided design and engineering applications find benefit in the large memory support, fast memory throughput and improved floating-point speeds, due to the need for these applications to work with larger models in a shorter period of time.

In areas such as automotive or aerospace design, the ability to conceptualize designs while meeting stringent design safety requirements more quickly than competitors is the key to success.

Design of products such as automobiles and airplanes has also developed a marketplace for analysis tools with the ability to determine the effects of factors such as airflow, stress and heat. These tools perform floating-point, intense, complex mathematical computations to determine the tolerances and characteristics of various materials. In addition, designers can develop real-world scenarios, such as a simulated crash, and apply the results to their models in an effort to improve product design.


In today's financial market, an expansion of software and services due to the readily accessible online trading and personal banking provided by the Internet has created a dramatic increase in the amount of data for customers and financial institutions to analyze. Computer systems are required to perform nearly instantaneous floating-point calculations of large data sets when analyzing data and trends, performing pricing analysis and executing trades.

Windows XP 64-Bit Edition allows these large data sets to be loaded into memory for rapid access by the processor. Since data in memory is accessed about 10,000 times faster than it is on a disk drive, analysis can be quickly performed. This data can then be represented visually in a detailed 3-D model, speeding the decision-making process.

Benefits of 64-bit Windows

Additional Performance and Scalability

  1. Large memory support. Supports up to 16 GB of RAM and 16 TB of virtual memory, enabling applications to run faster when working with large data sets. Applications can preload substantially more data into virtual memory, allowing rapid access by the Intel Itanium processor. This reduces the time for loading data into virtual memory or seeking, reading and writing to data storage devices, thus making applications run faster and more efficiently.

  2. Optimized for the Intel Itanium processor family. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition has been optimized specifically for the Intel Itanium processor and benefits from its key features, such as the EPIC design. More information about the Intel Itanium processor family is available at

  3. Floating-point performance. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will take advantage of the increased floating-point performance of the Intel Itanium platform.

  4. Multiprocessing. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition is designed to support multiprocessing capabilities for maximum performance and scalability.

Single Desktop for Technical and Business Applications

  1. Interoperability. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition provides a rich platform to integrate both 64-bit technical applications and 32-bit business applications. This will enable new levels of productivity and collaboration.

  2. Familiar management tools. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition can be managed using the same tools as 32-bit Windows systems. This allows organizations to standardize on one operating system for all of their desktops, saving substantial amounts of money in management costs.

  3. Windows-based solution. Windows provides the largest breadth of applications, hardware providers and support partners, giving customers more choices in how they create their solutions.

Best Platform for the Next Generation of Applications

  1. Same programming model. With the Windows programming model, developers can create both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of their applications using a single code base. When it is time to compile, they simply choose which version to build.

  2. Robust development tools. Windows has the most robust development tools of any platform, making it easy to build the next generation of applications.

  3. Microsoft .NET ready. Microsoft is taking leadership in developing the Microsoft .NET platform which will enable the next generation of applications that integrate with the Web.

Differences between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows

The major differentiator between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows is in memory support. Currently, 32-bit Windows is capable of supporting up to 4 GB of system memory, with up to 2 GB of dedicated memory per process. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will currently support up to 16 GB of RAM, with the potential to support up to 16 TB of virtual memory as hardware capabilities and memory sizes grow.

Customers will find some feature differences, but overall, 64-bit Windows includes a majority of the features that are included in 32-bit Windows.

ISV Commitment

Microsoft, Intel and OEM partners have engaged with key ISVs supporting target user scenarios. Through Microsoft's Technical Beta Program, pilot systems from Intel and the use of several remote 64-bit development labs, hundreds of ISVs have development well underway. Microsoft's vision is to make a broad portfolio of applications available, including leading Microsoft applications, on 64-bit Windows.

System Requirements

Windows XP 64-bit Edition requires a 64-bit motherboard and chip set, available through Intel and several OEMs.




733 MHz Intel Itanium

800 MHz Intel Itanium






3-D Graphics


A Microsoft-supported prerelease version of Windows XP 64-bit Edition is available with new systems from several OEMs. The operating system will be supported for 30 days after Windows XP is released, at which time it must be upgraded to the RTM version to continue support. An RTM version of the operating system may be obtained via the customers OEM when available. Localized versions are available in English, French, German and Japanese.

The Future of 64-bit Computing

Windows XP 64-bit Edition is the first step in 64-bit workstation computing from Microsoft. As data sets and memory requirements continue to grow, there will be an increasing demand for the capabilities of 64-bit Windows on Intel Itanium.

The Microsoft Windows XP 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems are developed in tandem, providing customers with a full range of computing environments from which to choose.