Microsoft's imminent release of SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) takes us a step closer to the commoditisation of 64-bit computing.
Assuming that Moore's Law holds good for a while longer, suppliers will be selling 64-bit equivalents of their current 32-bit server ranges for roughly the same prices by Christmas 2003.
But how many enterprises actually require such sophisticated, high-end computing?
So far, 64-bit technology has been the reserve of scientific institutes, big financial houses and other organisations that maintain immense databases.
When a company like Gillette buys half a billion RFID tags in order to track products and monitor its supply chain, the new levels of computational analysis and application scalability that 64-bit affords would make a real difference in data processing. For wealthy, data-rich firms, the falling price of 64-bit computational power is good news.
But for lesser enterprises running less complex applications, 64-bit's mind-boggling capabilities are unlikely to be used. What, one wonders, will 64-bit Solitaire or 64-bit Microsoft Office Assistant look like?
In reality, the majority of companies would rather see the major suppliers focus their attentions on making existing systems more robust and secure.
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