Monday, February 6, 2012

64-bits = 64 fingers :)

OK, so with patch 4.3.2, Blizzard provided a non-supported 64-bit client. I am fairly excited about this news. I have a 4 year old PC that is running a recent install of Windows 7 in 64bit. My gaming PC has 6gb of memory installed in it.

What are bits? 
it's right here!
Low-tech explanation. Your computer is very simple. It keeps track of, remembers, things that is doing by assigning it a location in your machine's temporary memory (RAM), a bit. Once we've used all of our bits, we have to drop/complete something before we can move on.

stateful counting
Now, your computer is 'state-ful'. This means that it treats if your finger is up, different than if it is down. That means you can expand the number of locations referenced. Using the hand example, you could use your right hand to count 0-9 (aka ones column), then your left hand to keep track of 10-90. This means you could count from 0 to 99 just using your two hands.

watch out when counting by 4s
Closer still. We assign values to each finger (i.e. thumb = 1, pointer finger = 2, middle finger = 4, etc.), we can start combining values and get more locations (now thumb + pointer finger = 3). With 10 fingers, we can count from 0 to (2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2)-1 (or 1023) locations.

Now your computer, 20 years ago had only 8 bits; nowadays typical your consumer grade computer can have 32 (say older laptop) or 64 bits to work with. This means that your computer is able to reference (theoretically) 2^64 or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 locations.

Work PC w/ Win7 - right-click My Computer, select Properties.

For this to work, everything your computer does, has to be able to reference 64-bit locations. Assuming your operating system is currently installed and running in 64-bits, you are good to go! Windows / Mac OS has found the drivers to necessary. (The article linked above has how to check your machine. )

If your computer has more than 4GB of memory, you will probably experience a performance increase running the 64-bit client. I wouldn't suggest trying this right before a raid, as a number of people have reported issues with various device driver conflicts.

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