Why did 64-bit consoles come way before 64-bit home computers and OS’s?


Why did 64-bit consoles come way before 64-bit home computers and OS’s?

In: 10

Because it was mostly mostly marketing hype and 64 bit sounded was better than 32 bit. None of them had more than 4 gb of memory, which is the main use for a 64 bit processor. Since consoles at that time weren’t ever backwards compatible, it was no big deal to switch processors.

Home computers on the other had, people expected to be able to run their old software. It was a bunch of work to make an OS that could run 32 and 64 bit software as well as a CPU that could do the same. So it wasn’t done until people really started needing more than 4 GB of ram.

You could also argue that home PCs became 64 bit in 1997 with the addition of the MMX instruction set as Intel processors started getting 64 bit registers and instructions.

Generally, consoles as soon as they had one 64 bit feature, they were advertised as 64 bit. Home PCs didn’t get called 64 bit until every feature was 64 bit.

I thought it had to do more with the number of colors it could render?

64bit means a lot of things. I think the n64 had some part of the graphics system that was 64 bits wide, everything else wasn’t.

For general purpose computing there is an expectation that the bulk of the cpu architecture be 64 bits: the registers (how many bits used in computations), the memory address space (how much memory can be addressed), and the memory bus (how much memory can be read in a single opperation).

There are cases where the bit size is different for design reasons. An example would be the intel 386sx processor. It has 32 bit registers and address space, but data was accessed 16 bits at a time. The 16 bit data bus was cheaper to build. Motorola did similar things with the 68000.

I always thought the marketing for the “number of bits” back then had to do with colors they could render, not necessarily the CPU word size?