Markets Technology

Open Source and 64 Bit Feedback

  1. A number of valuable comments were recieved from those who are already using 64 bit technology.
  2. Performance is outstanding and ROI appears high, especially if you go with GRASS and Linux since these are free.
  3. Looks like pressure is needed to move the big players, but QT Modeler is already there.

There were a number of valuable comments to the 64 Bit Dilemma post from those who have already jumped in – please be sure to review. In general the comments were very positive with the performance gains being significant and the ROI being high.

Jarlath at the University of Vermont noted that Office 2010 is going to be 64 bit. There were a couple of references to the excellent performance of the 64 bit version of QT Modeler, and a request that the hardware vendors make the move. I will follow up with a few contacts to see where they stand.

I found the the most interesting comments to be from Doug Newcomb at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He has been processing files as large as 400 GB using 64 bit GRASS running on 64 bit Centos Linux – WOW. And what’s even more impressive, it’s all free software.  As I learned the hard way back in the 90’s when I had a business selling the USGS DRG’s, free is hard to compete with.

As Doug points out, if we step out of the Windows/commercial software world, 64 bit is already commonplace.

I would really like to get your feedback on this one.


  • From a desktop OS standpoint most of us end up using a software package that requires Windows, which is relatively affordable. On the server side there are huge cost savings to be had by moving to Linux. ESRI and Definiens are two companies that are windows only on the desktop/client side, but offer both Windows and Linux support on the server side. The OS debate always digresses into the “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” arguments (full disclosure – my laptop has both), but one has to keep in mind that software developers have limited resources. Porting software to many operating systems reduces the time they can spend working on enhancements and migrating to 64-bit architecture. I think the current focus on Windows on the desktop side and Windows/Linux on the server side is a wise on. Of course there is one place where 64-bit, multi-threading, and GPU processing is common – the gaming industry. LiDAR processing on XBox 360 anyone?

  • @ Jarlath, RE: GPU processing – nVidia’s CUDA software is opening up massivley parallel processing to the Windows desktop user. nVidia’s current GPGPU cards are way ahead of XBox 360 capabilities. Manifold GIS has had 64-bit and CUDA capabilities the last couple of years for a handful of surface functions and more promised with the next release. I’d hope the Lidar software developers are also looking at using GPGPU cards too, as it would seem a perfect fit for the large data that Lidar produces.

  • I agree that many folks use Windows, but you can make your computer dual boot Windows/Linux and use a 64-bit Linux distribution that has GRASS, gdal, postgresql/postgis in the software repositories ( Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, etc.) and access data from the windows ntfs volume when you are booted into linux. You also have a software development environment with c++, python, java that comes with Linux. At a cost of $0 for the software, you’ve just enhanced your data manipulation capabilities.

    The other option would be to use linux with the KVM virtualization as your base OS and install Windows as a virtual guest so you could run both linux and windows simultaneously. With quad core cpu’s that are hardware – virtualization capable for under $100 , a CPU /motherboard/Memory upgrade (like I just did at home) is under $300, $350 if you want to bump the DDR3 RAM up to 8GB .

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