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Thread: My experience with 64-bit computing on an Intel Atom N2600 "Cedar Trail" system.

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    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Thumbs down My experience with 64-bit computing on an Intel Atom N2600 "Cedar Trail" system.

    Hello everyone,

    I promised I'd post about this some time ago, so here it is.

    As some of you may know, I got my hands on a new laptop some weeks ago, courtesy of my current job. It is a very nice Classmate PC, with the processor model mentioned in the title, 2 GB of RAM, and a 320 GB Western Digital "Green" hard drive, which I had to disable Idle3 and APM on. I noticed the processor has 64-bit instruction support, so I decided to grab a matching release of Windows 7 and install it to make the most out of the computer.

    While "64-bit OSes need at least 4 gigs to work fine/at all" is a myth, it is true that x64 applications demand more memory, due to the processor's extra complexity. So I doubled the amount with a Markvision-brand stick, which was a good investment as it survived heavy memtesting and has yet to cause any problems during regular usage.

    Being aware that I would also need x64 drivers but thinking that wouldn't be a problem, I went ahead and installed Windows. A very good free program called Driver Identifier helped me get the chipset, storage controller and virtual keyboard to work, since those are apparently only available to OEMs and not to general public. The accelerometer and sleep counter management (whatever that is) I found nothing for. I registered on the Intel Community forums and made a well-written post explaining this and requesting help, as well as offering the 32-bit version of those drivers I possessed (they were included in the pre-installed OS), in case anyone needed them. Either it was deleted or never approved by a moderator, because for all of the following week, the thread wasn't visible in the section where I started it, and my account was stuck at "0 posts".

    I didn't give this further thought, since I don't use the HDD Protection software anyway: it stops working at random too often to have its intended purpose.

    Getting the integrated video to work was particularly vexing. I assumed that since the processor was made in 2012, there would be 64-bit drivers available, as with virtually any modern hardware. But you can see where this is going...

    Intel Cedar Trail Atom Won't Receive 64-bit or DirectX 10.1 Graphics Driver
    No 64 bit driver for Cedar | Driver Detective
    No 64-bit graphics driver for Cedar Trail, nor any DX10.1 drivers

    Windows* 7 Driver (32-bit) - Intel® Graphics Media ...
    Drivers for graphics Intel GMA 3600/3650 - when?
    GMA 3600, Windows 64 bits support
    GMA 3600 series 7x64 drivers.... - Graphics
    Intel GMA 3600 - Graphics
    Intel GMA 3600, 3650 graphic driver support for Windows 8 64 ...

    If you can't or don't want to read all the links above, here's a summary: 32-bit Windows 7 is the only platform Intel wishes this particular hardware to support, and that's official. Yes - they create a x64-capable processor, but deliberately refuse to code video drivers that will work with it. And if you want to use XP, there are no official ones at all. Some adventurous people managed to make one using an OEM engineering toolkit, but it's a VESA driver with no acceleration support. The Linux crowd, it seems, have an unofficial one which more or less runs fine, not because Linux is bad but because there's only so much those people could do with no source code or hardware documentation from the manufacturer.

    Despite being dumbfounded by this decision, I didn't give up in my search, and after several hours found a beta of an old driver which didn't refuse to install. I rebooted and was greeted by a BSOD. I rebooted again, in safe mode this time, and among others, had the idea of limiting the amount of available memory to 4095 megabytes - one short of exactly four gigabytes, that is. It worked, but Windows told me that only 2.98 gigs were usable, as if I were running an x86 system clashing against the 3 GB barrier.

    At this point, I gave up all hopes of running a 64-bit OS, and installed 32-bit Windows 7, for which at least I wouldn't have this driver mess.

    Because of the aforementioned barrier, I ran patchpae2 to "unlock" PAE and let the OS see all memory. That worked, but upon rebooting, the desktop was on SVGA resolution, and the graphics controller had refused to start, because the official drivers have no PAE support. I tried several other patches, with the same result. And the BIOS has no memory hole remapping feature available.

    Bottom line: I have a 64-bit capable system with 4 gigabytes of RAM installed, but Intel's half-assery and indifference make me run a 32-bit OS which can only work with 3/4ths of the available memory. I got this laptop for free and am happy to have received it no matter what, but this is a real punch in the face to those who paid for this hardware. If you're planning on purchasing a netbook, don't buy Intel "Cedar Trail" chips! And always research beforehand, in case any of their other product lines have this kind of problem.
    "I just remembered something that happened a long time ago."
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    ozymandis (04.05.15) , yoco (15.10.13) , mmmmm (15.10.13) , Instab (15.10.13)

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    that's a typical example of what to expect with stripped down systems such as netbooks. anyhow i wouldn't worry too much about 64bit because that is not better in general but only in certain cases. it depends on what you wanna do of course but with the 32bit you should be fine either way.
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    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Since I got an even better laptop this year, I wanted to revisit this thread and post an important detail I learned in the meantime.

    Intel is not completely to blame for this flaw. They licensed the PowerVR video chip and its documentation from Imagination Technologies. They are the ones at fault, by not writing 64-bit code or reference for it. Intel could have used a better chip instead, of course, but this one was good enough for the intended usage and price range of the product line.

    Also, I recall comparing how well the 64-bit version of DiskCryptor's benchmark, a CPU-intensive process that should benefit from x64 instructions, would run in this processor. Results were just slightly above x86 build's. The only advantage of an x64 operating system would be using memory above 3 GB, but that doesn't work either, since the video drivers are broken. So there is no advantage in running one on these chips (sacrificing video by using a PAE-patched x86 kernel does allow you to use most of your RAM, if you ever want that).

    Quote Originally Posted by anon View Post
    The accelerometer and sleep counter management (whatever that is) I found nothing for.
    I have these drivers now, and they're available upon request if anyone else needs them.
    "I just remembered something that happened a long time ago."
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  5. Who Said Thanks:

    ozymandis (04.05.15)

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