Nerius Landys wrote:
I'm in the process of purchasing a small Nehelem-based server (Xeon
L5506 CPU to be exact).  I will be installing some flavor of FreeBSD
8.0 (either i386 32 bit or amd64 64 bit, to be exact).  I have no
immediate need for a 64 bit server, as none of the processes that I
will be running in the forseeable future will require more than 3 gigs
of memory.  My primary use for the server (which will be in a data
center) will be to run video games servers; the exact game I'll be
running is based on the ioquake3 open source engine, which compiles
and runs fine on FreeBSD, at least 32 bit (have not tried 64 bit
FreeBSD yet, but will get around to that).

My two concerns when making a decision between 32 bit and 64 bit are:

1. Performance.  Will there be any difference in performance between a
64 bit OS and 32 bit on my Nehelem?

Probably not so much that you would notice (i.e. not something the users would immediately feel) - for general loads we're talking about low percentages in either direction.

But installing a 64-bit OS is more like planning for the future. Maybe you will need more RAM for some application and then you will be stuck with a 32-bit OS.

2. Availability of software.  Will some software run only on 32 bit?
Only on 64 bit?

There probably are some. If you are only interested in FreeBSD ports, you can make a list of which ports you need and then inspect their Makefiles to see if there's a flag disabling them on the amd64 architecture.

Another option is that you bring up a 32-bit-only jail and run your 32-bit applications from it.

Additional information for Nehalems is that you should stick to the more widely available models - the 4 core+HTT ones. Some of the more exotic ones (6 core) might have problems with ULE and topology guesswork.

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