Economic Effects Scientific Computing Mainstream Applications

Games. The transition to 64 bits holds a great deal of promise for mainstream computer games. Games will be able to deliver more content in a much faster way. According to Tim Sweeney, CEO, chairman, and founder of Epic Games, “You'll have much higher resolutions on everything. You'll see better textures, more realistic sounds, and larger and more realistic environments.” 64-bit computing opens doors to real-time graphics not far from the most realistic graphics used in movies. Another major benefit for games arises from the additional memory made possible by 64-bit computing; this may eventually allow developers to create ‘never-ending’ games which rarely pause to load a new level and arenas which seem unbounded in their degree of complexity.

Although a few 64-bit games have already been released in 2005 (such as Atari’s recent game tested on AMD 64-bit processors), many companies, including Epic Games, are planning to debut their games after Microsoft releases Longhorn, its upcoming 64-bit OS, in which more hardware compatibility will be addressed.

For screenshots comparing graphic quality on a 32-bit and a 64-bit system, see:

Media. Both film and audio will experience dramatic changes as a result of 64-bit processors. As AMD notes in recent paper, “The digital audio engineer or composer will soon have all their virtual instruments and sample libraries resident in physical memory, eliminating the need for multiple PCs or peripheral instruments.” A single console with the increased power provided by 64-bit processors will vastly improve the productivity of creative digital artists. Video encoding, a process in which high quality video is compressed for transfer over the Internet, will also become much faster, allowing users to view more frames per second and experience a “film-like playback.”

Perhaps most excitingly, 64-bit technologies could enable the types of applications and media that were never before thought possible on a home desktop machine. The release of a fully 64-bit operating system in the upcoming year will certainly spur growth in the development of mainstream applications for users.