64-bit - is it worth it?

Shane Hathaway shane at hathawaymix.org
Sat Apr 19 11:23:33 MDT 2008

Hans Fugal wrote:
> But I'm considering switching to 64-bit when I upgrade to the next 
> version of Ubuntu, Real Soon Now™. The reason is that I think it might 
> be a substantial enhancement when it comes to transcoding large video 
> files (i.e. HDTV - I don't have an HDTV and even if I did I'm not nuts 
> enough about quality to want to allocate 9GB/hr).
> I know many of you have been riding the 64-bit wave for some time now. 
> What are the remaining pitfalls? Will I be constantly fighting with 
> software to get it to run? This is primarily my wife's desktop computer, 
> and she primarily does web, email, and OOo.

Running 64 bit isn't much of a fight anymore.  The only real holdout is 
Flash, and that works through nspluginwrapper.  As a fallback, you can 
host a 32-bit chroot in a 64 bit kernel (I've been running Oracle 10g XE 
this way), or you can use VirtualBox to put a complete 32 bit 
environment inside a 64 bit system.

OTOH, I haven't seen significant benefits from 64 bit except the ability 
to use more than 4 GB of RAM.  Also, the counters displayed by 
"ifconfig" wrap around much less often. :-)  Some pointer-heavy 
software, such as Zope, often takes twice as much RAM under 64 bit.

> Also, am I right in thinking it would help in video transcoding? I know 
> that theoretically it should, but does it in practice with current software?

Most of the video transcoding I've done has been I/O bound and benefits 
more from multiple hard drives than from any particular processor 

I haven't personally seen any noticeable speed difference with 64 bit.


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