64-bit operating systems have been around for ages. At some point, someone has to say it’s time to move on and embrace the future that’s already been with us. Steinberg have taken the lead and decided to toss all this 32-bit nonsense.
That’s a relief for those of us tired of all the confusing plug-in folders we have cluttering up the place. It’s a relief for those of us who accidentally launch the Cubase 32-bit version and wonder where all our plug-ins went. And it’s a relief for those of us whose system crashes when VST Bridge tries to wrap up a dodgy old plug-in.
Is anyone still using Cubase 32-bit?
It’s a disaster for those special people who desperately need to run a pre-millennium 32-bit plug-in without which their music and life is pointless. You know who you are. Although Steinberg have announced that the troubled VST Bridge (it wraps 32-bit plug-ins to use in 64-bit Cubase) will be no more, there are third party wrappers such as jBridge which can still work and always did a better job anyway.
It’s all in the memory
The biggest and most useful advantage of 64-bit is the ability to use more memory. A 32-bit piece of software, whether that’s running on a 32- or 64-bit OS, can only use up to 4GB (2 to the power of 32) of memory. With the size of virtual instruments these days and the demands of high quality plug-ins, 4GB is not very much. 64-bit software can address 18 quintillion bits of data (2 to the power of 64) or 16 exabytes (EB) which is around 16.8 million TB’s. That’s one heck of a plug-in. Of course that sort of size of memory in a computer doesn’t exist and operating systems impose their own limits. Windows 10 Home 64 bit supports up to 128GB which is plenty.
So, from what I understand from Steinberg’s announcement (you can read it here) the forthcoming Cubase 9 and Nuendo 8 will be 64-bit only. So if you have old 32-bit plug-ins knocking around it might be time to seek out an alternative. I’m all for it and hope other manufacturers follow suit.