Questions and Answers about 64-bit

by GRAPHISOFT and Greg Kmethy · updated: 05.23.2013

 

What does “64-bit” mean?

A 64-bit computer, operating system, or software application is able to use 64-bit wide memory addresses, while a “traditional” 32-bit computer, OS or software can only use 32-bit wide memory addresses. The maximum memory address space for a 32-bit system is 232, which equals 4gigabytes. A 64-bit system can address 264 bytes, that is 17,179,869,184 gigabytes.


What do I need to make use of 64-bit computing?

You need a:

  • 64-bit computer, like Mac equipped with G5 or Intel processor; a PC equipped with AMD64-architecture processor (Opteron/Athlon64, Turion64, Sempron, Phenom, FX, Fusion) or Intel “EM64T” processor (some Pentium4 and Xeon; the Atom and Core series)
  • 64-bit operating system, like Windows XP 64-bit edition, Windows Vista 64-bit version, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8 64-bit version or Mac OS X version 10.5 (“Leopard”) or above. (Mac OS X was partly 64-bit in versions 10.3 and 10.4.)
  • 64-bit software application

Is ArchiCAD 64-bit?

  • Windows From version 13, ArchiCAD has a 64-bit version for Windows. When you install ArchiCAD on a 64-bit Windows operating system, it will automatically install the 64-bit version. Starting from version 17 ArchiCAD is 64-bit only, which means it cannot be installed on 32-bit computers.
    BIM Server has also 32-bit and 64-bit versions on Windows, but it is strongly recommended to have a 64-bit computer as a BIM Server.
  • Mac ArchiCAD 14 was the last 32-bit version of ArchiCAD on Mac. ArchiCAD 15 is a native 64-bit application on Mac, there is no 32-bit version from it so it requires a fully 64-bit Mac (Core2 Duo, Core i3, i5, i7, or Xeon processors and 10.6+ as OS). You can find out if your computer supports 64-bit consulting Apple’s support site
    On Mac BIM Server is 64-bit application from version 14.

{i} Note that ArchiCAD 16 is the last version that supports 32-bit operating systems.


What is the benefit of 64-bit ArchiCAD?

One of the main benefits is that you can work with larger projects. On 32-bit systems if ArchiCAD’s memory usage is close to the memory address space limit, then ArchiCAD might abort operations with “not enough memory to finish operation” error message, or can even crash. On 64-bit system this barrier is completely eliminated, and the only limit is the size of the physical RAM in your computer.

Read about further advantages of 64-bit hardware and software


Is 64-bit ArchiCAD faster than the 32-bit ArchiCAD?

It depends. If the only change to the computer is a new 64-bit operating system, it is likely that ArchiCAD will operate slower. The reason is simple. When ArchiCAD opens a project in 64 bit mode as opposed to 32-bit mode, the pointers to memory are double the size. That is, every object, in the project now will have a pointer to it that is 64-bit instead of 32-bit.
Depending on how many objects are in the project, the additional memory for the pointers could add up to 10-20% of the original file size. If the project was already using virtual memory, it will be using 10-20% more virtual memory in 64-bit mode. Virtual memory can be thought of memory that is slower than the computer’s hard drive. Depending on how fragmented the drive is, and the use of indexers and virus checkers on this drive a significant performance penalty could be incurred for the lack of physical memory.

The point is, it is not enough to change the operating system — memory must be added. And performance gains will only be visible where memory use was intensive. For instance a send and receive with a project that was particularly memory intensive went from 10 minutes to 30 seconds after adding 4GB. Where memory was not in shortage a notable speed gain will not be noticed.


How much RAM can should I put in my 64-bit computer?

To make use of the extended memory address space of a 64-bit system, 4GB is the bare minimum, but you should preferably have 8GB or more. It also depends on how much can the motherboard of the computer take, and how much is recognized by the system. E.g. Windows Vista Home Basic operating system has a limit of 8GB, the Home Premium edition handles up to 16GB, and the Business/Enterprise/Ultimate edition can deal with more than 128GB. You will not need that much for ArchiCAD any time soon.

See also: Recommended hardware for GRAPHISOFT products


Can I open projects created with 64-bit ArchiCAD on 32-bit computers?

Yes, this is possible in general, as they share a common file format. This applies for projects saved back to v16 format from the 64-bit only version 17. For larger detail-rich models it is possible that the capabilities of the 32-bit platform are not enough, so there won’t be enough memory to open the project.


Can ArchiCAD run in 64-bit kernel mode?

ArchiCAD can run in 64-bit Kernel mode if you have installed WIBU driver version 5.30 or later.

XSERVE machines and the latest line of Mac Pro’s and MacBook Pro’s run in 64-bit kernel mode by default, and most of the recent Macs can also be forced to run in 64-bit Kernel mode. However, 64-bit applications work with 32-bit Kernel as well, and 64-bit Kernel mode is really only necessary if someone wants to use more than 32GB of Memory. All the external peripherals (like printers) need to have 64-bit system extensions in this case.

Read more about Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 64-bit to the Kernel


How much memory can ArchiCAD use then on the different systems?

The 32-bit ArchiCAD can use a maximum of 4GB of RAM. See more: Memory Limits for Windows Releases

 

ArchiCAD Version Operating system Max memory ArchiCAD can use
ArchiCAD 15 64-bit Mac OS X 10.6+ 17,179,869,184 GB (theoretical)
depends on Operating System and Hardware
ArchiCAD 13 64-bit Windows 64-bit 17,179,869,184 GB (theoretical)
depends on Operating System and Hardware
ArchiCAD 13 32-bit Windows 32-bit 2 GB
ArchiCAD 13 for Mac Mac OS X 4 GB
ArchiCAD 12 32-bit Windows 64-bit 4 GB

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