The Inquirer-Home

Driver problems plague Windows for AMD64 beta

Just be careful
Mon Feb 09 2004, 09:45
WE'VE HAD A NUMBER of emails from readers asking about the beta download of Windows for AMD64 that was made available last week.

But there's one thing that you should know if you've bought a bright and shiny AMD FX51 machine, or one of the other Athlon 64 machines available - there's a severe lack of drivers for hardware.

So be careful. One source close to AMD says that the available hardware driver count for Windows AMD64 machines is less than 50% so far.

Here's one example from a reader. He said that his hard drive has a FastTrak Promise 376/378 RAID controller, and there's no driver available for that yet. Plus, the installer routine won't support 32-bit Promise drivers, making it a bit of a problem to run the machine.

This same reader also wants ATI AMD 64-bit drivers. On the plus front, Via has released Hyperiod AMD64 drivers.

Here's the basic problem. Were you aware that Intel actually writes a heap of drivers for Windows? And that when Windows XP was being launched, both Intel and Microsoft helped out some hardware vendors by assisting them with driver writing?

Unfortunately, Windows for AMD64 is not a high priority for Microsoft. By which we mean that it's not going to go out of its way to help out AMD, without the chip company paying a heap of money for the effort. And AMD's pockets aren't that deep, nor has it that many software developers it can spare for the task.

However, if Intel does get round to releasing Yamhill, and if there is a release of Windows 64 called "Elements", and if its chip is compatible with AMD 64-32 extensions, it might help out writing hardware drivers, if it sees that's in its best interests.

In the meantime, there are various Linux 64-bit OS releases for the AMD64 platform with considerable hardware support. In private conversations with the INQUIRER, Intel has told us that the lack of a full version of 64-bit Windows for AMD's chips is a bit of a problem.

So we can't see Intel rushing to help out its little competitor. Instead it will pursue its own agenda.

We've contacted AMD for its advice on this tricky little driver problem. We'll include that advice when we hear back from them. In the meantime, be a little careful. µ


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