Thinking Vista? Think 64-bit.

I was at an electronics store the other day and I was surprised to see how many of the new systems are sold with 64-bit editions of Windows Vista. I also noticed that a gigabyte of computer memory is now touching the $25 price range.

I think this is a great news.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your Adobe CS4 applications is to run them on a 64-bit operating system. Mac users have it easy because the Mac OS Leopard is only available in a 64-bit flavor. Windows users face a choice between 32- and 64-bit. I suggest walking right past 32-bit Windows and picking up a 64-bit edition of Windows Vista.

The advantage to running CS4 applications on 64-bit OS is that you can install and use large amounts of RAM. Here’s how it works with After Effects: When you are rendering in the Render Queue or building a RAM preview, After Effects can use multiple processor cores to render several frames at the same time. Behind the scenes, After Effects starts a process on each available core. Each process can address up to 4GB of RAM. The After Effects Help on the Web has all the details about memory and multi-core rendering.

How much RAM should you have when running AE? A good rule of thumb is 4 GB per core, plus whatever you want to use for your operating system and other applications.

Speaking of other applications, say you’re running Premiere Pro CS4 along with After Effects CS4. Premiere Pro can also take advantage of extra RAM. Throw in a couple more gigs for Photoshop, Illustrator and web browser, and it’s looking like the sweet spot is now 16-32 Gigs on a 64-bit OS.

Windows users should make sure that your hardware drivers are available for the 64-bit edition of Vista. It’s been a while since Vista shipped, so this is becoming less of an issue every day. Also, it’s good practice to update to the latest versions of your software. For Vista, get Service Pack 1. For Adobe software, be sure you are using Premiere Pro 4.0.1 and After Effects 9.0.1.

For those of you who aren’t interested in moving to 64-bit, send me a comment and let me know what’s holding you back!