Is 64-bit OS necessary?

I'm in the market for a new computer and want to be sure I get the best for my Finale / VDL2 setup.  I'm looking at pc's (I'm an oddball Mac to PC convert) and am trying to learn about processors and OS's. 

My current setup is:

Windows XP
Pentium 4 2.4 mHz processor
2GB memory
80GB hard drive
Finale 2007

Of course I have lots of questions...

My first question is about the difference between 32 and 64 bit operating systems (not processors, as it seems much of the higer end are 64-bit now anyway). Will a system running with, say 4 - or 8 - gigs, run Finale / VDL2 faster with a 64 bit OS?  Are Finale or VDL2 even written for 64-bit mode?  Or is it a waste of money to get a 64-bit OS?

Many of the new computers out have a max of 4GB of memory - but I read on here where people have up to 8GB...  At what point is it a waste of money to add memory when a 32-bit OS will only use so much anyway?  And will the computer recognize moer than 4 if it says 4 is the max?

Maybe the easier question would be what's the ideal PC to have (processor, RAM, etc) to effectively playback a marching band score with no skips or computer brain freezes - winds and complete drumline - without having to break the bank?

Thansk to anyone who can help me with this confusing and somewhat long-winded situation.

1 Comment

Without getting too techy - The main difference between a 32-bit and a 64-bit OS is that it fully takes advantage of a 64-bit processor. The 64-bit CPU can process larger ";chunks"; of data at once. A 32-bit OS running on a 64-bit CPU may see minor performace increases, but it's essentially no different.

A 32 bit OS can only use 4 gb of memory, if you have more the OS won't recognize it. A 64-bit OS can use much more. (18 billion GB) Generally speaking, in a 32-bit OS, 2 gb of memory is reserved for the OS and 2gb for the application. So in a 32-bit environment an application can normally only use up to 2 gb. (There are tricks to up this to 3gb)

Sibelius, Finale , VDL2, Kontakt, only come in 32-bit versions(as far as I know). While they will run (hopefully) in a 64 bit OS by emulation, they will not take full use of the 64 bit processing. They will however, have access to the expanded memory. They won't run ";faster"; until they are given the full 64-bit upgrade. The major caveat for 64-bit OS is making sure there are compatible 64-bit drivers for all your hardware. Mac OSX Tiger is a 64-bit OS (sort of) and I'm guessing those are the folks with more than 4gb of RAM.

To make a recommendation, I would look at dual core CPUs - AMD X2 or Intel Core 2 Duo - the dual core processing is very fast. I personally would stick with a 32-bit OS, 4 gb of RAM, and fast hard drive (7400+ rpm) until we see more native 64-bit software and solid driver support. I'm using 32-bit Vista atm, though it does have it's own issues (shoddy driver support, some software compatibility).

Hope that helps a bit.

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