So AMD are almost ready to ship desktop 64bit procs and in a few months Intel will too.
Now assuming a decent compiler (and no legacy apps to run at vaying speeds) what advantage will this bring the consumer in the short term?
I'm not confident that there will be any. I seem to remember that when XEmacs was first ported to 64 bit and Hrjove Niksic benchmarked the two together the 64-bit version was fractionally slower except when performing some extreme, atypical applications involing a lot of integer criunching.
So perhaps 64-bits on your desktop will mean better eye-candy. Perhaps things people previously installed SQL servers for will be performable through your spreadsheet or MS-Access (and similar). Perhaps ripping and converting multimedia will faster (if we're allowed to... :-).
Maybe it's not the apps that will really benefit but the OS and that will make us all happy. But did we see such a speedup when Solaris went 64 bit? Nope. Irix? Nope. On the otherhand, maybe moving to 64 bits gave us the advantages of XFS (now available on 32-bit Linux), UFS Logging (also available on 32-bit Solaris 7+ for SPARC and x86) so that's a big fat "nope", too.
As you can tell, I'm more than a bit confused. Can someone tell me why we need 64-bit desktops when all the evidence and experience we've had have shown otherwise?