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A term describing a computer architecture based around an ALU, registers and data bus which are 64 bits wide.

64-bit processors were quite common in 1996, e.g. Digital Alpha, versions of Sun SPARC, MIPS, IBM AS/4000. the PowerPC and Intel were expected to move to 64 bits at their next generation - PPC 620 and Intel P7.

A 64-bit address bus allows the processor to address 18 million gigabytes as opposed to the mere 4 gigabytes allowed with 32 bits. There were in 1996 already hard disks which can hold over 4GB. Floating point calculations can also be more accurate.

A 64-bit OS is needed as well to take advantage of the CPU. In 1996 there were only a few 64-bit operating systems, including OS/400, Digital Unix, Solaris (partialy). A 32-bit OS can run on a 64-bit CPU.
References in periodicals archive ?
The company posits that by providing a smoother migration path to 64 bit computing than the path offered by Intel, "AMD's strategy is designed to save its customers billions of dollars in software re-development and deployment costs.
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EDINBURGH, Scotland & TORONTO -- UniPrint For 64 Bit Provides Cost-Effective and User-Friendly Enterprise-Class Printing for Today's Faster 64-Bit Server-Based Environments
The new version will bring capabilities to 64 Bit platforms in the form of Large Object Support, Batch Processing, and Large Query computing.
Given the dramatic performance improvements associated with 64-bit computing, and the fact that 32- to 64-bit migration is made far easier with popular applications like Microsoft SQL Server, we're going to see more and more customers migrate to the 64 bit platform," said Rahim Kapadia, product manager, 64-bit systems, NEC Solutions America.
Fintronic was the first company to port a Verilog simulator to the Linux platform in 1993, as well as to a 64 bit platform in 1996 when it ported to DEC Alpha.
In terms of precision, 64 bits is old hat, particularly in engineering programs where rounding errors can be disastrous.
AMD Turion 64 mobile technology is the only available processor offering both 64 bits and enhanced security for thin and light notebook PCs, which are preferred by many business professionals," said Marty Seyer, corporate vice president and general manager, Microprocessor Solutions Sector, AMD.
We were the first to bring 64 bits and dynamic power management to notebooks, and now the performance of AMD mobile processors is available at your fingertips in a dynamic convertible tablet PC.
For consumers, 64 bits gives both more memory to load polygons and textures and more power to manipulate them, accessing unprecedented levels of realism, interactivity and detail in their worlds.
To handle speed differences between the VMEbus and PCI bus, and to enable the two buses to operate independently at full speed, OmniVME provides a prefetch FIFO (32 words deep by 64 bits wide) with integrated byte swapping logic.