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Re: st: 64-bit Windows vs Linux

From (Alan Riley)
Subject   Re: st: 64-bit Windows vs Linux
Date   Tue, 28 Mar 2006 02:05:55 -0600

K Ssdjk ( started a discussion about running Stata
on 64-bit Windows vs. 64-bit Linux:
> I am a stata 9-se user and I frequently use large (>2G) datasets. I 
> currently run stata jobs on my university's distibuted UNIX environment, but 
> am interested in shifting everything over to my desktop.
> It seems my two options are:
> - a Linux box
> - a 64-bit Windows PC
> Has anyone on the listserv run some benchmarks comparing these options? Or 
> also comparing these options to a multiprocessor UNIX system? I am a bit 
> hestiant about the two options I am contemplating, since I have read bad 
> things about the 64-bit Windows OS and am quite inexperienced as a *NIX 
> admin.

The first thing to watch out for when buying a 64-bit Windows PC is
that most Windows PCs being sold with 64-bit processors are being sold
with 32-bit Windows on them!  Thus, you are not able to take advantage
of the larger memory allocations that a 64-bit processor would allow.
Make sure to either buy a 64-bit Windows PC running 64-bit Windows, or
be prepared to upgrade the operating system to 64-bit yourself once
you buy it.

64-bit Windows is capable of allocating more than 2 GB of memory to
applications that need it, including Stata if you have large datasets.
Note that this would need to be a 64-bit version of Stata for Windows.
32-bit Stata for Windows will run just fine on a 64-bit Windows system,
but since it is a 32-bit application it cannot allocate more than 2 GB
of memory in theory (and 1.5 GB in practice on most Windows systems).

For a single instance of Stata, given his inexperience with Unix/Linux,
I would recommend that K Ssdjk go with Windows.  64-bit Stata on
64-bit Windows runs roughly equivalently to 64-bit Stata on 64-bit Linux
given equivalent processors, memory, and hard drives.  I say "roughly"
because differences in compilers and libraries can result in slightly
different timings for different procedures.

In general, Linux is a bit better at multi-tasking (running multiple
programs simultaneously) than Windows.  On a single-processor system
running large computationally-intensive Stata jobs, K Ssdjk might see
better responsiveness from other applications running at the same time
if running under Linux.  Perhaps this is not a concern.  If it is, I
would recommend a dual-core or dual-processor system.

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