The 64 bit computers are coming. It will take awhile before we see any native 64 bit applications but they will come. It may take time like the transition from 16 bit to 32 bit but remember all of the changes in applications and the things they allowed us to do? This is a perfect example of evolution not revolution.
We have had 64 bit since the mid nineties remember the Sun SPARC? The operating systems are not there yet although there was NT 4 in a 64 bit awhile back but the new operating systems are progressing and some are in beta. Not even apple running on a 64 bit CPU is native 64 bit. Windows XP can run on the 64 bit CPU and there are versions in beta as native 64 bit expected late next year.
I have run AutoCAD on both the Intel and AMD 64 bit machines and what I have seen is some great progress. While AutoCAD is 32 bit native it is not built for the 64 bit CPU. In one case I saw significant performance increases on the AMD Opteron and even AutoCAD 2004 installed in under one minute on a 1.6 GHz AMD 64 bit and that is the fastest of any single or dual CPU machine I have ever seen. The speed is fast. PC World has reported AutoCAD using the AUGI benchmarks as 44% faster but Autodesk has not confirmed this but we are looking at it.
I have received questions from customers asking when is there going to be a 64 bit version of AutoCAD? The answer is simple, and like most other major changes in software architecture and hardware, when there is an enough demand. There also needs to be a true released 64 bit compiler available which there is not currently. AutoCAD for many years already has used the 64 bit floating point precision and operations on the 32 bit CPU. There are limitations to the floating point on the CPU that you can see when offsetting small geometry at a extreme distance from the 0,0 origin like 10E6+. The problem is when you get so far from the origin in the drawing and since there are only so many numbers you can use on either side of the decimal then the floating point will round making some very small features round to a zero which cannot be calculated as anything divided by zero equals zero. You can prevent this by moving the geometry closer in the drawing to 0,0 then offset and then move back to the extreme location. Mapping and Civil users work in this extreme area due to the reference points they must use for locating their property and other data such as most California coordinates are based from a single reference off of the Pacific coast. We are researching extending to 80bit floating point for operations thus extending precision and extend the distance from the origin in which you can work without the floating point rounding causing unpredictable results.
I will post more on this subject as details are released and systems become more available. Currently industry analysts are predicting 18 months before we start seeing the native 64 bit applications in the market in any volume.
Here are some interesting articles on the 64 bit and AutoCAD.
Cadalyst is saying the AMD 64 bit is ther fastest AutoCAD benchmarks ever seen at Cadalyst labs.
First Looks: @Xi MTower 64 AMD Opteron-based system Click Here
"tore through AutoCAD tasks, finishing the test about 25 seconds faster
than the average of the 3-GHz P4 systems. That's noteworthy because AutoCAD
is one of only two PC World tests in which the 800-MHz bus seemed to boost
newer 3-GHz P4 systems compared with 3.06-GHz P4 boxes."
64-Bit Takes Off
"Systems with the FX-51 showed pronounced improvements in some of our more CPU-intensive tests, particularly AutoCAD, where they were about 44 percent faster, on average, than the P4 unit."
AMD chart for workstation comparison Click Here