Thinking of building a 64-bit Vista machine for VM and AutoCAD work...

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by jmroberts70, May 16, 2008.

  1. jmroberts70

    jmroberts70 2[H]4U

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    So it's getting near the time for me to upgrade my daily AutoCAD workstation machine from the Dell Precision system I currently have with 4GB RAM to something more powerful. The problem is that I can't really go any higher in RAM without leaving 32-bit Windows behind...

    I have been doing some reading on what Microsoft is planning for it's next version of Windows (I believe at the moment it would be called "Windows 7"). They're talking about a complete "do over" where they will wipe the slate clean and start fresh. They can finally get away with this due to the success of VM technology in both hardware (namely the Core CPU) and software. By using VM's in a newer version of Windows, they will solve the "backwards compatibility" paradigm that currently has a strangle-hold on Microsoft's codebase...

    Well with this in mind, I though, "Why not do that now?" I could build a workstation with tons of RAM (probably using a server mobo for the vast amount of slots available for expansion), probably a couple of CPU sockets, and 64-bit Vista as a base. I know there are a lot of small apps I run from time to time that are not compatible but couldn't I always just run them in a VM? In addition, Autodesk's latest platform is finally natively 64-bit so I'm good with the main software I need.

    Am I thinking correctly about this concept?
     
  2. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    If you want to use the best OS Microsoft makes as of today, right this moment, that's Windows Server 2008, for a variety of reasons that I'm not about to reiterate once again as they're covered in countless threads here and at forums all over the Internet.

    Hyper-V(isor) built into 2K8 now allows for an incredible amount of possibility for future expansion - and it's not even done yet, it's technically a beta, but the performance at this point leaves even VMWare in the dust and will surely only improve as the product is tuned up and perfected over time. For a first ditch effort of building virtualization directly into the OS, Microsoft is kicking ass and taking names, that's for damned sure.

    32 bit OSes had their time in the sun. I, like many other people, have been running 64 bit OSes for pretty much the last 5 years in Windows Server 2003 x64 and XP x64 editions, as well as countless Linux distros that are 64 bit through and through. As for Windows 7, that's too far off to even speculate what the hell will be happening with it, so I won't even bother.

    64 bit computing does allow for better overall performance - anyone with half a brain knows this and doesn't need 500 benchmarks from every website on the planet to prove it. Simple math gives the answers, and I don't mean "Yes, it's twice as fast" because the same people that already knows 64 bit is better should/would also know it's not double the performance, but significantly better performance than 32 bit could ever dream of.

    Building a 64 bit based machine now - both from the hardware and software perspectives - ensures you're ready to rock when the time comes and you need that extra *uNF* that 64 bit computing provides.

    Only time I run a 32 bit OS is <surprise surprise> in a VM nowadays. ;)
     
  3. jmroberts70

    jmroberts70 2[H]4U

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    Damn that was a fast response!! I hadn't thought of Server 2008 but I have heard some good things about it (mainly that it can boot to just a command line). I think there was a demo at some trade show where they booted it up on the big screen and it went to a blank screen with a command line and everyone cheered! As far as I'm concerned, there is little alternative to 64-bit for me. I beat the hell out of my workstation and 4GB or RAM just isn't enough to get the job done. I open massive image files (scans of blueprints) that need a bit of work, and naturally, I'm running several instances of AutoCAD at the same time for fast switching, and this just eats up RAM like crazy. I've got to go out to either 8 or 16GB of RAM to even keep up.

    I'm finding TONS of articles on this now. Thanks for the tip!
     
  4. PGHammer

    PGHammer 2[H]4U

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    It's not just the server side of Windows anymore, either.

    I just crossgraded a Celeron-D from Home Basic x86 to Ultimate X64 (with SP1, of course); amazingly, so far, I have one nitpick. (Surprisingly, it's not drivers, or even applications, as I handled those.)

    The nitpick is *browser plug-ins*; specifically, Adobe Flash.

    As of version 9, Adobe still hasn't solved the plug-in issue with 64-bit browsers. (Microsoft, on the other hand, has 64-bit client-side support for Silverlight out the door.) The recent eWeek articles on how lots of site designers are sticking with Flash are, therefore, becoming Rather Irksome. (While both x86 and x64 versions of IE are included, the x64 version is the default.)
     
  5. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    And it appears that Flashplayer 10 will not offer 64 bit support either (for 64 bit browsers), so... blame Adobe for being lazy fucking bastards with too much control over their own products and complacency that isn't keeping up with the rest of the computing world. Sure they just recently announced the next version of Photoshop would have some 64 bit support, but that's what, like 5 years late? Come on...

    They're too big for their own britches, always have been. As for the 64 bit IE7 included with Server 2008 being the default, that's not quite accurate: all links/shortcuts/URLs/etc will open IE7 32 bit by default. The 64 bit browser is in there, on the Start Menu, but it's not the default browser on any 64 bit version of Windows to date.

    I use IE7Pro, an addon that makes IE7 the browser it should be, and they created a 64 bit version for IE7 64 bit too which was pretty spiffy of them.

    But yeah, we'll be dealing (and have been dealing) with the no-plugin bullshit for several years now. Nice to be on the bleeding edge and definitely ahead of the curve, but there's a price to pay for such things - a lack of compatibility for "the industry standard" which is still 32 bit coding, and will be probably for another 2 years.

    Damned shame really. I can't wait for a day when I'm running Windows and I can look at the Processes list in Task Manager and see every application I normally use there without a single *32 anywhere in sight. :)

    As for 64 bit Silverlight support, I've yet to see it. Microsoft makes no mention of it, but I've seen some hacks that supposedly enable it for 64 bit IE7. Not interested in hacking in that deep, and at this point, based on what Firefox 3 is shaping up to be, that might be my primary browser finally. It truly is fast now, and memory usage has really been improved - no more memory leaks, the one thing that has plagued Firefox since its inception. Great browser as long as they don't pooch it so close to it being final (just hit RC1 a few days ago).
     
  6. jmroberts70

    jmroberts70 2[H]4U

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    Maybe I'm not getting it but what's the big deal about Adobe Fash? If it won't work in 64-bit Windows yet, just browse in a 32-bit VM right? Or is it more of just yearning for a time when there will be no need for running VM's?
     
  7. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    I didn't say Flash doesn't work in 64 bit versions of Windows, I said (and the other poster said also) that Flashplayer (the browser plugin) doesn't work inside a 64 bit browser, such as IE7 64 bit and Firefox 64 bit (aka Bon Echo), or any other 64 bit browser I'm not even aware of.

    Flashplayer itself is a 32 bit component/plugin, and as such won't load itself into a 64 bit browser when that browser is in operation, so... in effect it's useless if you want to run a 64 bit browser, as a lot of us would prefer to do. They're faster in operation (no, not twice as fast, but faster nonetheless) and probably more stable as well (although I can't back that up, it's just my own experience).

    Adobe has been lazy over the years, and way behind the curve, but they're not alone. As mentioned above, even Microsoft is a bit lazy with Silverlight and no proper 64 bit version of that Flash-ripoff, but if I had to put my money on who get there first, it'll be Microsoft.

    The problem with Microsoft is they typically are late to any game they get into and then try to take over from well established formats. Silverlight = copy/ripoff of Flash, late to the game, XPS = copy/ripoff of PDF, late to the game, etc.

    32 bit browsers and their plugins work just fine in IE7 32 bit and Firefox 32 bit under a 64 bit OS, that's not an issue. The issue is those of us running a 64 bit OS want as much as possible running in proper 64 bit mode so as not to require the WOW64 (Windows On Windows 64) translation layer to be called into play because it hampers performance just a wee bit. Not enough to be a real problem - it's remarkably efficient, actually - but it's still a workaround to true 64 bit computing.
     
  8. Sovereign

    Sovereign 2[H]4U

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    I'm not going to contradict people and say "Don't use Windows Server 2008" but I can say Vista x64 Ultimate SP1 + VMWare works great. I don't know anything about Hyper-V so I can't comment on that. In other words, a consumer OS will work fine if you don't want/can't afford Windows Server.
     
  9. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Vista is ok these days, SP1 "fixed" a lot of issues with it, but for sheer performance, 2K8 stomps it flat. And hey, you can get 2K8 trial for free, legit, from Microsoft and even run it for up to 240 days without a single issue - and again, legitimately. It's not always a solution for people, obviously, but they're practically giving it away to entice people to get it.

    As many others that use or have used 2K8 of late will say, "I don't know why it's faster, it just is. I know it's based on the same code, the same kernel, and I just can't say why it's so much faster than Vista but it really is... by leaps and bounds faster..."

    And it really is.
     
  10. PGHammer

    PGHammer 2[H]4U

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    I said just the opposite: 64-bit Silverlight exists. In fact, the 32 and 64-bit plug-ins went 1.0 at the same time. XPS documents are generated primarily by Microsoft Office 2007, which also includes 64-bit support from the jump. (In fact, there is a 64-bit Silverlight plug-in for 64-bit Linux; something else Adobe has failed to produce.)

    I have nothing against Windows Server 2008; in fact, if you don't game, it makes for a rather nice alternative workstation/desktop OS, because of several services it doesn't run that Vista does. (That's even true on the x86 side of things).
     
  11. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    I just closed IE7 32 bit - I'm running 2K3 x64 (IE Enhanced Security Configuration was nuked first thing after the install, btw), for the record. Opened IE7 64 bit, went to http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight and did the installer thing (downloaded to Desktop, closed browser, installed Silverlight, re-opened IE7 64 bit) and then went right back to the same webpage and still nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero.

    Went to http://www.silverlight.net/showcase to find some content, same thing: nada, zip, zilch, zero content showing, nothing with Silverlight content works in IE7 64 bit based on that testing I just completed not 2 mins before posting this.

    Closed IE7 64 bit, re-opened IE7 32 bit, went to both of those URLs, hey whaddya know, wham, bam, thank you ma'am, everything works great. Close IE7 32 bit, open IE7 64 bit, nada, zip, zilch, zero.

    So if there's a specific 64 bit Silverlight installer out there, point me to it because it sure as hell isn't right there on the page where you "Click to install." If anyone else has Silverlight content working in IE7 64 bit (and please, make sure you're actually running that browser because the default for IE7 is always the 32 bit version), show me the way because none of the installation media I've downloaded (small files, but even so) are making it happen.

    Oh, and I tried the 2.0 beta also; still no joy in IE7 64 bit. I'm not saying PGHammer is wrong, I'm simply saying that in my attempts in the recent past, and the attempts I just made not 5 mins ago, there is simply no joy for IE7 64 bit and Silverlight content, so if I'm missing something, then by all means, school me.

    Edit:

    Did a rather exhaustive search of the Microsoft KB and Silverlight.net's forums and all I keep finding is something similar to this statement:

    That's from a post last June, of course, but one would think if I input "64 bit" in their search form it would bring up something newer and more relevant if there was something newer and more relevant to report. Apparently, that's not the case.

    And this relates as well:

    http://brandonlive.com/2008/03/11/dont-write-gadgets-with-flash-or-silverlight/

    and this:

    http://mobilewares.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!78533A1A2E078194!487.entry

    but a hack is mentioned which wouldn't be a worthwhile thing in the first place; it either does or it does not have a proper 64 bit version, and not one thing I can find says one actually exists.
     
  12. jmroberts70

    jmroberts70 2[H]4U

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    OK, guys, how about the processor...

    Is it worthwhile to build a machine using dual Opteron's and gobs of RAM slots or just bite the bullet and head for an expensive Core2 system? I'm just thinking that I might save some $$ building such a system or is the performance difference between Opterons and Core2's just too big?
     
  13. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Core 2 Duos eat Opterons like a junk food junkie would down Twinkies, man. There's no AMD processor on the market today that adequately provides competition for most any Core 2 Duo currently available. Not sure what's so damned expensive about 'em - the Q660 is the most popular processor on the planet at this point (arguably) and only runs $180-220 depending on where you get one. You simply can't match the performance it offers for the cost with anything AMD can offer up.

    If you want the best, solid, stable machine you can build for the long term, Intel truly is the only answer, and I mean Intel from start to finish: processor, mobo, chipset, etc. If you have absolutely no intentions of overclocking, I'd suggest getting a real Intel motherboard of some kind (Intel branded, not just some other brand like Gigabyte with an Intel chipset). Intel is considered "big iron" for a reason: there's nothing that compares.
     
  14. DeaconFrost

    DeaconFrost [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Without actually price comparing, I couldn't possibly imagine how the Core 2 Duo system would be the more expensive one compared to a dual Opteron system, especially when you'd need a dual processor capable board as well. You could spend $100 or less for an Intel branded motherboard that would easily handle a top end system's components for your desired usage.
     
  15. jmroberts70

    jmroberts70 2[H]4U

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    You're right in some respects but, first of all, I'm trying to start with a mobo that probably has 8-16 RAM slots. Here's an example of an eBay auction I just turned down that was a dual Opteron mobo and CPU's that sold for $50:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=180244100886

    Mind you, the mobo only had 8 slots and only supported 184-pin DDR RAM which pretty much ended the thought since getting 2GB RAM sticks for this would have been much more expensive that I'd like.

    I'm pretty much expecting to start with a server motherboard simply for the large number of RAM slots. I will probably also wind-up with a dual Xeon system just as it will come with what I'm looking for. Fine with me. I'm just trying to be smart with how I build...
     
  16. xxEIEIOxx

    xxEIEIOxx 2[H]4U

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    Pretty much along the lines I was thinking. Server 2008 is ok, but Vista is much cheaper. They not not much different, but I would only do the Server 2008 if you need the server components. Vista is still more consumer friendly. We have a machine running Server 2008 that previously had Vista, and the performance is very similar when they are configured in much the same way (Aero on, and so forth). The Hyper-V has failed to impress me. Unless we are doing something wrong, the performance is not up to VMWare. It looks like it may be promising at some point, and I haven't loaded the last update that came out, but as far as I have seen it doesn't support drag and drop file transfers or USB devices like VMWare does. Everyone has their preferences, and these are the experiences I have had. YMMV, good luck, and I hope you like what you end up going with. ;)
     
  17. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Well there ya go. The RC1 of Hyper-V makes drastic improvements to the overall performance compared to the previous versions but but... no, it's not quite at VMWare levels of performance, but considering VMWare has been at the virtualization game for what, close to a decade now I'd say Hyper-V is quite promising for Microsoft's first in-house effort. VirtualPC was a holdover from the acquisition of Connectix a few years past, all part of getting those virtualization talents on the Microsoft payroll - and now with Hyper-V we're beginning to see the fruits of the labor.

    It's worth checking out again at this point, and with a free trial version of 2K8 only a download away, it's fairly easy too.