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The World of 64 Bit Computing.
2^64 is 16 Billion Billion binary bytes!
01110011  01101101  01100001  01101100  01110100  01100001  01101100  01101011

Welcome to 64bits.net
The mission of 64bits.net is to explore all aspects of the 64 bit generation of computing systems from the gory technicial details to the issues that drive the business need for these systems.

The World of 64 Bit Computing is ~4 billion times bigger than 32 bits! Let's do the math.

2^32 = 4,294,967,296 = 4 GiB (~4 Gigabytes). That's not much anymore these days.

2^64 = 2^32 * 2^32 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 = 18 ExbiByte = 18 quintillion, 446 quadrillion, 744 trillion, 73 billion, 709 million, 551 thousand and 616! Now that's a much bigger number we can live with for a short while.

2^64 is 16 Billion Billion binary bytes!
64bits.net | Assembly Library FASMLIB aka libASM
Standard libASM (aka FASMLIB) for X86-32 architectures.

FASMLIB is a portable general-purpose library for the x86 series of processors written in 32 bit assembly language. It supports FASM, MASM and NASM/YASM, on Windows and Linux.

Originally, FASMLIB was planned to be a source-code library for FASM only. Later, it turned out that it could be easily used in other assemblers, and support for them was added. FASMLIB can be used in FASM directly by including its source, or by linking it in. In other assemblers it must be linked in.

FASMLIB is designed to be usable with pure assembly code without any macros. Because of this, all functions have same calling standard: arguments are passed on the stack and the called procedure cleans the arguments from stack. This is true even for procedures with a variable number of arguments.

Every FASMLIB procedure returns its error state in the carry flag (CF). When CF is 1, an error has occurred and the EAX register contains the error code. The library provides set of standard error codes and allows the definition of custom error codes. This design allows macros that provide try-throw-catch-like error handling.

Code utilizing FASMLIB is portable between FASMLIB's supported platforms (Windows and Linux) without modification.

A remarkable feature is that many procedures are provided in two versions. One version is simple to use and provides the most commonly used functionality. The other version provides more functionality, and thus it is harder to use, requiring more arguments.
The FASMLIB web site with source code.
64bits.net | History of FASM by Tomasz Grysztar
Tomasz Grysztar describes (in english) the history of the FASM assembler for X86 architectures.

FASM (Flat Assembler) is a free and open source Intel-style assembler supporting the IA-32 and x86-64 architectures. It is known for its high speed, size optimizations, OS portability, and macro capabilities.[1][2] It is a low-level assembler[2] and uses few command-line options.

FASM contains bindings to the Windows GUI and OpenGL. All versions of FASM can directly output any of the following: flat "raw" binary (usable also as DOS COM executable or SYS driver), objects: ELF or COFF (classic or MS-specific), or executables in either MZ, ELF or PE format (including WDM drivers, allows custom MZ DOS stub).

The project was started in 1999 by Tomasz Grysztar, aka Privalov (at that time, an undergraduate student of mathematics from Poland) and its first public release was announced on March 15, 2000.[4][5] FASM is completely written in assembly language and comes with full source. It is self-hosting and has been able to assemble itself since version 0.90 (May 4, 1999). It has been used to write several operating systems including MenuetOS, KolibriOS and DexOS.

Due to its Titan OS origins, FASM originally only ran in raw 32-bit "flat real" mode. Optional DPMI support was added later on. Recently, this was removed in favor of DPMI exclusively (due to losing the battle with the 64k code segment). However, the speed lost here is minimal, and DPMI (which FASMD always used) is better for compatibility with modern OSes and emulators.

FASM is a low-level assembler. It does not support as many high-level statements as MASM or TASM.[2] Instead it provides syntax features and macros which make it possible to customize or create missing statements.[4] Its memory addressing syntax is similar to TASM's ideal mode and NASM. Brackets are used to denote memory operands as in both assemblers but their size is placed outside the brackets like in NASM.

FASM is a multi-pass assembler. It makes extensive code size optimization, and allows more forward referencing.[2][9] A usual FASM construct is defining data or procedures only if they are used somewhere in the code, something that in most languages is done per-object by the linker.

FASM is based on the SSSO principle (same source, same output). This means the contents of the resulting file are not affected by the command line[9]. Such an approach saves FASM sources from compilation problems often present in many assembly projects. On the other hand, it makes it very hard to maintain a project that consists of multiple separately compiled source files, or mixed-language projects. FASM projects can be built from a single source directly into executable without a linking stage.
The FASM Flat Assembler web site.
The End of Itanium?
HP, one of the world’s largest makers of servers, workstations, desktops and notebooks, said it was going to cease production of Intel Itanium 2-based workstations, citing demand switch to systems with Intel Xeon processors 64-bit capability known as EM64T.

HP is discontinuing its Itanium-based workstations. In working with and listening to our high-performance workstation partners and customers, we have become aware that the focus in this arena is being driven toward 64-bit extension technology,” HP’s spokeswoman Nita Miller told X-bit labs.
X-Bit Labs Article
That's a big move as Itanium has cost HP a significant amount of money.

Now let's look at the latest sales information and well see why HP sees the writing on the wall.
Applications supporting the Itanium 2 platform are growing rapidly in the business sector, which should help Intel ship more than 100,000 Itanium 2 processors this year, said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the Asia Pacific Solutions Group at Intel, in Taipei recently.
Digitimes Itanium Sales Article
Ok, compare that with AMD's sales projections:
AMD to ship 600,000 K8 CPUs in 3Q, 1.5-2 million in 4Q
With the current level of demand likely to carry over to the end of the year, AMD is optimistic it will ship 1.5-2 million K8 CPUs in the fourth quarter, the sources estimated.
Digitimes AMD Sales Article
With numbers like these it's clear who the market leader is now. In it's first year AMD64 is leading Intel's Itanium by a wide margin of 20 to 80 times! Considering that Intel has been shiping the Itanium for a couple of years now... they have a serious challenge.

The Beauty of Itanium and The Attraction of the AMD64 Beast
As a long time assembly language programmer with a couple major programs written entirely in assembly language I have studied the Itanium IA64 design and instruction set and find it fascinating. It's got lots of room for optimizations and very nice features like the predicate branching. It's really amazing from a technical point of view. However, if it isn't adopted by the market and if Intel and HP (a co-creator of the Itanium) can't get the market to accept it on a mass scale then we're going to be using the AMD64 bit extensions to the venerable IA32 Pentium style architecture and instruction set for a long time. Which is fine. Actually it's great since there is so much software written for the Pentium that it would be like trying move Mount Everest without earth moving equipment to get the Itanium adopted, especially the way that Intel prices it.

The only path for Intel to prevailing in the marketplace with their Itanium design is to "merge" the Itanium with the AMD64 bit (Pentium-EMT64) line of processors AND to license the Itanium design to others including AMD. Fortunately, from a hardware and instruction set level Intel has laid the groundwork for this to take place by including an instruction to "switch" between Itanium and Pentium instruction sets. They need to extend this to EMT64 (which they must do if Itanium continues). The other aspect that needs to be taken care of it the speed of the Pentium instruction processing within an Itanium chip as it is dismal in the current generation of Itanium 2s. It would be great to see a "dual core" Itanium-Pentium/EMT64 chip that can run both instruction sets at full throttle and be priced competitively with AMD64 Opterons! As long as Intel keeps the Itanium chips priced high and the design locked down to itself and HP it's going nowhere fast in the "commodity market place". Mainline the Itanium Intel!

In the meantime I'm preparing to buy new AMD64 based systems to upgrade all our desktops, laptops, and servers! I would have preferred a more powerful 64 bit chip from a design perspective but heck I'll take what the market chooses for the simple reason that price and performance matters to not just me but to the vast majority. And the comodity pricing wars drive the innovation forward within the constraint of low prices. This is something which AMD seems to have grasped better with their 64 bit strategy than Intel did (unless Intel simply mucked up their own strategy). You can't ignore the market when you undertake new products Intel.

Well, from a technicial design point of view at least the AMD64 design is 64 bits and makes other much needed improvements on the old IA32 Pentium design. Thanks for those extra bits, registers and the added "sanity" in the instruction set AMD! Bring it on! Hundres of millions of boxes to upgrade!

For specialty applications that are not as price sensitive then there could still be a niche market for the Itanium. The future is to a large degree in Intel's hands. Lower the price of the Itanium, join it at the hip with a fast Pentium-EMT64 core and let the games begin!
C|Net News.com | Intel shifts 64-bit emphasis
"Intel plans to demonstrate a 64-bit revamp of its Xeon and Pentium processors in mid-February--an endorsement of a major rival's strategy and a troubling development for Intel's Itanium chip." Article
The Inquirer | The Opteron onslaught on The Good Ship Itanic
"Despite the high prices and often hard-to-get chips, Opteron is racing ahead in its quest to possibly become the dominant 64-bit processor architecture on the workstation and server front: a proof that the creaky X86 architecture now has such a market pull that it can have a life of its own at the very high end, even against Intel's express wishes."

"... a quad-CPU Opteron 848 has 25.6 GB/s memory bandwidth, compared to just 6.4 GB/s in a quad-Itanium2." Wow! Article
The Inquirer | IBM PowerPC 970 Die Revealed
"This is an awesome picture of the inside of the PowerPC 970 chip. What the heck do all these bits of silicon do?" Article | PowerPC 970 Chip Image
Arstechnica.com | Inside the IBM PowerPC 970
"IBM's ... announcement of the PowerPC 970 was one of the most heavily anticipated processor announcements in recent memory. Mac users, would-be Mac users, Linux enthusiasts, and anyone with a serious interest in desktop computing waited to see just what Big Blue would unveil as the first offensive in its newly announced effort to bring 64-bit RISC computing out of the server closet or rendering house and onto the mainstream desktop."

"It's widely acknowledged that in continuing to insist on 32-bit architectures for the desktop and in pushing IA-64 as its sole, 64-bit migration path, Intel has left a large gap in its upper midrange to high-end desktop computing lineup. What about customers who want a smooth transition to 64 bits but don't want to pay a steep premium in terms of price and software availability for Itanium2? Before word of the PowerPC 970 hit the 'net in the form of a seminar description on the Microprocessor Forum 2002's website, such customers were facing only one option: AMD's forthcoming Hammer series of x86-64 processors. Now, though, IBM will join AMD in jumping right into the 64-bit gap left by Intel, and depending on the 970's real-world performance and availability at the time of its projected 2H03 release date, the desktop computing landscape could look very exciting indeed. Full Article - Part I

"One fact that's often overlooked in discussions of IBM's upcoming 64-bit Power4 derivative desktop chip is that the PowerPC 970 is not IBM's first desktop PowerPC CPU."

"Many Mac users have become so accustomed to blaming Motorola for the sorry state of Apple's desktop line that they forget that IBM has always been and still is a supplier of Apple's CPUs. IBM and Motorola originally co-developed the first PowerPC chips that Apple used in its initial PowerMac line, and they also co-developed the G3... ...a close examination of IBM's PowerPC 970 reveals that it was made with Apple in mind as the primary customer. Furthermore, it's almost certain that Apple will introduce a new high-bandwidth frontside bus and memory subsystem design for towers based on the new processor. In a short, we now know what Apple has been up to for the past two years while their desktop line has languished." Full Article - Part II
64Bit.org | Intel's Response to AMD and Apple?
The gauntlet has dropped. Intel must respond to the AMD and Apple 64 bit challenge.

It seems that the best strategy for Intel is to bring out an Itanium chip with a existing, yet modified, and proper Pentium 4 core integrated on chip (better), or off chip (not so good). The existing Itanium IA32 internal core, with it's inadaquate 32 bit performance, is, quite frankly, giving the farm to AMD and Apple. If the Itanium was able to have the 32 bit performance of the AMD Optium, the Intel Xeon or Pentium 4 and the price was right then Intel may have a chance to sail into the top 64 bit market share slot. Otherwise, it will continue to be rough sailing for them.

We need to see a sea change in Intel's attitude to catch the 64 bit consumer wave. AMD and Apple are now poised to ride the rising tsunami, and the last thing that Intel wants to see is a sea change that carries AMD and Apple to huge successes. Come on in and play Intel, what are you waiting for? Time to catch the 64 bit wave for real Intel. - Peter W. Lount
64Bit.org | The 64 Bit Era Begins! (updated)
The 64 Bit Computing Era finally hit the mainstream mass market on the 23rd of June, 2003, with Apple announcing 64 bit personal computers! It's about time that 64 bit computing leave the exclusive domain of super computer clusters in the server room and enter the reach of the small business and home buyers. Apple (and IBM who supplies the G5 chip) has actually beaten Intel and AMD to the 64 bit mass market. While other 64 bit systems have been available for years, Apple is the first to bring high profile marketing to the game. This is about market perception. People will see that 64 bits is better than 32 bits and those people will want their 64 bits! And now they will think of Apple first! What an masterfull stroke of marketing and a supurb accomplishment for Apple!

Intel's 64 bit Itanium has been languishing with poor sales and a slow capability ramp up period. This is likely caused as much by Intel's attitude that 64 bit computing is years off as it is by Intel's technology choices and glitches bringing their Itanim {or Itanic as some call it} to market. Before the awesome Itanium design will dominate, Intel must address the price. Unfortunately, it's marketing, not the better technology that will win the day. It's inexplicable why Intel takes the attitude that 64 bit computing isn't needed now. Now that Apple has jumped the gun and with AMD twitching in preparation for it's sprint into the 64 bit markets, Intel had better adapt, or the paranoid won't survive without being burned on market share.

AMD just released their 64 bit Opteron server chips and is on the verge of bring out their mass market Athlon 64. The elegant simplicity with which AMD has cloned Intel's strategy of extending the X86 architecture is a force to be rekoned with. Intel must address the low end of the 64 bit market before AMD and Apple capture too much market share.

Apple has pulled the 64 bit rabbit out of the hat! Hopefully it's 64
karats for Apple, as they need a big boost to keep the venerable OpenStep 5.3 alive! Woops, I mean the new MacOSX version 10.3 Panther alive! ;--)

The Apple G5 based products are fast, very fast. They even trounch Intel in most of the benchmarks, which is a welcome switch for Apple. - Peter W. Lount

"Although the 64-bit PowerPC processor was designed by IBM, Apple itself designed the system controller. In a surprising advancement for the Apple platform, the front-side processor bus runs at a full gigahertz, a significant increase over the 800-MHz front-side bus used by Intel processors. All of the new G5 systems are equipped with AGP 8X and Serial ATA storage connections." Full Article

"World’s fastest” {personal computer} based on SPEC® CPU 2000 benchmark results and leading professional application performance tests against 3 GHz Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension 8300 and 3.06 GHz Dual Xeon-based Dell Precision 650." Full Article
The Inquirer | AMD's Opteron: Does it measure up?
"If anyone is integrating 64-bit systems for the HPC cluster environment, they will have to make use of AMD Opteron. If they don't, they will not be in that business." Full Article

It looks like the battle between AMD and Intel for the 64 bit market is finally heating up with a full range of products becoming available from AMD this spring, summer and fall. With AMD's Opteron hot performance trouncing Intels Xeon, and with AMD's awesome price/$ of performance ratio it does not look good for the Intel products. - Peter W. Lount
Ars TEchnica | An Introduction to 64-bit Computing and x86-64
"If we think realistically about most of the world's commercial software not as "software" in the abstract but as x86 binary code, then it becomes apparent that improvements to the x86 ISA represent one of the most practical and cost-effective ways to advance and expand the x86 software market. ... The question of why we need 64-bit computing is often asked but rarely answered in a satisfactory manner. ... Any claim that "4GB is enough" or that address windowing extensions are a viable solution are just plain nuts. Do people really think programmers will re-adopt early 1990's bank-swapping technology? ... The days of $4000 workstation and server CPU's are over, and those of $1000 CPU's are numbered. ... Intel should be listening to customers and taking the leadership role on the 64-bit desktop transition, not making these ridiculous "end of the decade" statements to the press." Full Article OSNews Chat
Real World Tech | The Battle in 64 bit Land, 2003 and Beyond
"The most important events in the 64 bit universe in the past year and a half have been outside the technical arena. Dominating everything was a major industry downturn from a weakened economy, reduced capital spending ... It is apparent that only the most technically competent RISC processors can keep up with the blistering performance pace set by 32 bit x86 MPUs. ... Despite being kept on minimum life support and locked in a dark crawl space, HP’s unwanted bastard stepchild Alpha continues to confound friends and foes alike. ... Hardly a week goes buy without a major computer OEM announcing a shiny new product line based on the Itanium 2. ... The near term road map of the Itanium family seems quite clear." Full Article

"there's a table near the end that shows some predictions for 64-bit processor performance levels about this time next year. We've plotted it..." - InquireInside.com Article & Chart
TheInquirer.net | The battle between X86-64, the Intel Itanic and Planet Other
"I asked our very lovely readers to send me their thoughts or information on the x86-64 vs IA-64 situation, whether they were aware of software in development for one or the other, or whether or not their particular businesses were planning to adopt either solution. This resulted in a flood of emails which I've spent some time reading and sorting through." Full Article
Digit-life.com | Facts & Assumptions about the Architecture of AMD Opteron and Athlon 64
"As you know, AMD keeps on promising to release new-generation processors based on the Hammer core - Athlon 64 and Opteron. The first is meant for the desktop market, while the other for the server sector. Now we will look into and analyze information we have about these processors. " - Digit-life.com Full HARDCORE Article

"Hammer tested on over 50 operating systems." - InquirerInside.com Related Inquirer Inside Summary
ExtremeTech.com | 64-Bit CPUs: What You Need to Know
"It's the peak, the top, it's the Mona Lisa. It's the $64,000 Question: what processor will dominate 64-bit computing? Sixty-four bits holds the promise of new performance, new architectures, new compilers, and a new balance of power in CPU realpolitik. A clean break with the old, a new chance for the new." Full Article (one page version)
ZDNet's Tech Update Special Report on Opteron and Itanium
"AMD's forthcoming Opteron processor--aka Hammer--packs ground-breaking technology: Its hybrid design allows the chip to run 32- or 64-bit operating systems natively. Plus, AMD claims that one Opteron running in its 32-bit mode will outperform two XEONs--the heart of the most advanced 32-bit servers based on Intel technology. But where are the benchmarks? Which system vendors are planning Opteron-based servers? And what about software support? Until some of these pieces fall into place, AMD's gamble looks to be facing some long odds." Special Report Index
HP releases Itanium 2 benchmark data
"Intel Corp duly rolled out its "McKinley" Itanium 2 processors yesterday, and as results of the first industry standard benchmark tests run on the machines were finally available, IT vendors and their customers can get a grip on how well or poorly the Itanium 2 machines compare to RISC/Unix, IA-32, and other alternatives in the server market, ..." Full Article
HP roadmaps Itanium futures as McKinley debuts
"Hewlett Packard Co, perhaps the biggest supporter of the Itanium architecture aside from Intel Corp, took the launch of the "McKinley" Itanium 2 processor from Intel yesterday as an opportunity to elaborate on its immediate and long-term plans to incorporate the Itanium 2 processors as well as future generations of IA-64 processors into the HP workstation and server product lines, ..." Full Article
At ISSCC, Intel outlines McKinley 64-bit processor, but remains mum on 'Yamhill'
"During the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) here this week, Intel Corp. plans to outline more details about its McKinley line of 64-bit microprocessors, but it will remain mum about another new 64-bit technology, code-named 'Yamhill.'" Full Article
The 64-bit saga POWER4 vs Itanium2
"THIS TIME ALMOST EXACTLY a year ago, a crime took place. Alpha, the fastest and most elegant general-purpose processor architecture to date, and the first pure 64-bit microprocessor, was brutally murdered by its owner - at the height of its performance leadership, which she kept stubbornly despite its funding being gradually strangled by "PC-centric, industry-standard" Compaq over the last few years. Yes, the only problem Alpha ever had, but bad enough to be fatal, was its owner company.'" Full Article
AMD’s Voyage into the 64-bit Arena: x86-64 Revealed
"Ambition can be a double edged sword; on the one hand, it can push you to accomplish that which you'd previously never thought possible, yet on the other, it can set you up for a much larger failure in the long run. In our "little" microprocessor community, we've got two very ambitious manufacturers, the very same names you've been hearing and debating over for the past few years, none other than AMD and Intel. Prior to AMD's release of their Athlon processor, which, for the longest time bore the codename 'K7', placing AMD's name before Intel's in a sentence was pretty much unheard of. The company had been improving their stance in the desktop microprocessor industry, but they were still more than a few steps behind Intel. " Full Article (one page version)
Linus Torvalds: Praying for Hammer to Win
"We're ... generally praying that AMD's x86-64 succeeds in the market, forcing Intel to make Yamhill their standard platform." Full Article

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