Originally posted by Programmer
Most apps will not require 64-bitness.
Correction: Most current
apps will not require 64-bitness. Most current apps don't even really need 32-bitness. Those that require 32-bitness really require it, though - the software would not be possible without 32-bit processors.
A probably apocryphal story:
Shortly after acceding to the throne (ca. 1840), Queen Victoria toured Michael Faraday's laboratories. After Faraday had expounded at great length on the fascinating properties of the obscure natural force he was researching called "electricity", the Queen looked at him quizzically and asked, "But Mr. Faraday, of what use
is it?" Faraday, completely unabashed, calmly replied, "But Your Highness, of what use is a baby?"
I see 64-bit computing in much the same way. Current software has been conceived and designed within the assumptions of 32-bitness. That framework fundamentally constrains engineers' concepts of what is even possible in computing. There are some current apps that are bumping against the 32-bit ceiling which will immediately benefit from 64 bits. That misses the point, though, IMHO. Thousands of way-cool software ideas have died in brain-storming sessions simply because they were beyond the capabilities of current or near-future hardware.
64-bitness in and of itself isn't all that important. What is
important is that it forces the rethinking of assumptions about what is possible in the world of software. I'm anticipating a whole new generation of applications that take advantage of the new possibilities that 64-bit processors bring. I suspect in a few years there will be programmers lamenting about the constraints of the 64-bit world, longing for the day when 128- or 256-bit processors become available!
A corrolary to Moore's Law is that software expands in power and size to fill available hardware. More powerful hardware means more powerful software becomes possible, driving hardware to even higher levels to keep up with what the coders want to do. I don't see any end to the spiral for the foreseeable future.