Virtual Desktops: 32-bit or 64-bit Desktop Operating Systems?

2013-Mar-30 | Tags: 32or64virtual desktopvirtualization

Start64!One of the key decisions during a XenDesktop design is whether to use the 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) version of the Windows desktop operating system. I’ve seen a few projects falter because they’ve opted for the 64-bit version without really thinking this decision through and I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you.

Question: What’s the benefit from implementing a 64-bit desktop operating system?

The primary benefit of a 64-bit operating system is that it allows you to assign significantly more physical memory to the desktop. With the 32-bit version of Windows XP or Windows 7 you’re restricted to 4GB of physical memory (there are a few techniques available to extend this limit but they do not come without disadvantages – check out Daniel Feller’s blog post for more information). However, with the 64-bit versions this limit is increased to 128GB for Windows XP and 192GB for Windows 7 Professional.