The last two decades of mainstream personal computers have been based on a 32-bit architecture. That design allowed the computer to access 2 to the 32nd power of memory addresses (4 GB of RAM). When the design was incorporated in the first x86 processors in the 1980s, the average PC ran on only 4 megabytes of RAM (4 MB) meaning the theoretical limit of the 32-bit architecture represented a 1000x multiple of the PC’s RAM. Since then, Moore’s law of computer capacity doubling every 2 years has pushed memory limits against the 32-bit buffer.
Crushing the 4 gigabyte memory barrier are systems leveraging a 64-bit architecture (2 to the 64th power of memory addresses). Microsoft and Intel have been selling 64-bit software and hardware for several years already. While the number of users with 64-bit Windows operating systems is still low, the number of computers on the market with 64-bit processors capable of making the leap is huge.
Why the slow adoption? The answer is compatibility – compatibility with software applications and hardware components. Most enterprise scale applications on the market today are not available in a 64-bit format. From a user perspective, upgrading to the 64-bit operating system and losing existing application functionality is not an option. Luckily, Microsoft anticipated this and created their operating systems with support to allow most applications to run in 32-bit mode on the Windows 64-bit operating system.
Developing a 64-bit release of software is not always simple. Many of the development tools used by programmers over the years are not capable of building software with a 64-bit architecture. In addition, applications must be completely upgraded – any sub-components called inside the application must be fully 64-bit compliant. Despite 64-bit operating systems and hardware being available for several years, many common applications such as Microsoft Office have yet to make the leap.ColumbiaSoft invested in developing a 64-bit version of Document Locator for a number of reasons:
- Microsoft Windows 7 is beginning Beta this month. As a Microsoft partner with a deep integration into Microsoft Windows, ColumbiaSoft is committed to leading the document management industry by staying current with Microsoft. This includes working with the latest releases of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system in both 32-bit and 64-bit mode.
- Document Locator has significant clients in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industry. Applications used in the AEC industry like Autodesk Revit are leading the transition to 64-bit processing because of the significant computing required for rendering 3-dimensional models.
- The ColumbiaSoft Engineering department prides itself on continuously pushing the envelope of Document Locator. This includes refactoring processes to ensure optimal performance, leveraging the latest database technologies, and reviewing the overall system architecture as new development languages and methodologies become available.
In the coming months ColumbiaSoft will announce the release of Document Locator 5.3. In addition to handful of other enhancements, version 5.3 will ship with a thick client installation package intended for 64-bit operating systems. Users on the 64-bit platform will notice a performance increase due to the efficiencies of integration with Windows Explorer 64-bit. Additional performance gains are derived from Document Locator’s revamped architecture of the Windows shell integration. Stay tuned for more updates on a release date and the additional features included with Document Locator v5.3.