Shopping for a laptop (not for me!) recently it was good to see 64 bit OS installed on all but entry level products. Given that level of acceptance in the consumer space I find it surprising to find some dedicated CAD workstations are still running the 32 bit flavour of Windows. I thought Windows 8 would be all 64 bit but it seems Microsoft are still going to offer an 32-bit (x86) flavour.
So, why 64 bit for CAD?
If you have any doubt 64 bits are better take a look at this post from Revit Clinic:
64 Bit Revit and Stability - revitclinic.typepad.com
“In general, 64 bit operating systems running 64 bit Revit are about twice as stable as 32 bit operating systems running 32 bit Revit. Our Customer Error Reports (CER) and Customer Involvement Program (CIP) help confirm this.”
Not just for Revit!
Our AutoCAD Architecture fitting layouts are typically 6–10MB .dwg files. Before using a 64 bit OS “out of memory” was the most frequent cause of crashes.
The machine many have had free memory but a single 32 bit process can only use about 2 GB and shaded 3D views caused AutoCAD to hit that limit.
With a 64 bit OS you frequently see ACAD.exe gobbling upwards of 6GB ram, on its own, to display these views. No wonder it struggled to fit into the 32 bit limit.
How much RAM is enough?
I have found 8-16GB Ram generally is sufficient for most AutoCAD/AutoCAD Architecture users, 16-32 for Revit. With Windows 7, and 8, 64 you can access up to 192GB RAM and you can never have too much!
On paper, the 64-bit architecture can address 16 exabytes of memory (2^64), or more than 4 billion times that of its precursor. Consumer editions of Windows Vista permit from 8GB to 128GB of physical memory to be accessed, depending on the version. Windows 7 bumps that up to 192GB with the Professional version and above...