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Install Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 or Server 2003 Enterprise x86?

Posted on 2008-10-29
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hello - We will be installing a new server in our office for a new line of business application we have purchased. We will be installing MS SQL Server 2005 Standard for this application to use as well. This will be a pretty resource demanding application. The server we have purchased is a Dell PowerEdge 2950 with Dual Quad-Core E5405 Xeon's (2.0GHz, 2x6MB Cache) and has 8GB of RAM and SAD RAID-5.

Since Windows Server 2003 Standard x86 (32-bit) does not support more than 4GB of RAM, we have to go with an O/S that does. This is merely a question of budget. I have an unused copy of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition x86 and an unused copy of Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition x64. Given the demanding hardware requirements of the application, and the fact it runs on MS SQL Server 2005, which version of Windows do you think we would achieve the best performance with? I think that Enterprise x86 has to use PAE to address the memory beyond 4GB, but from what I understand an x64 version does not. I am not sure if that makes a difference or not. I also have read that Enterprise does better with multiple processors and has other features that I don't need like clustering and hot-add RAM. The application is not yet certified for Windows Server 2008 so the choices are 2003 Standard x64 or 2003 Enterprise x86. Thoughts anyone? Thanks in advance!
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Question by:cardscomp
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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
ID: 22830446

I would go for Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition x64 Edition. By installing the 64-bit edition, you will get native support for up to 32GB of RAM, and running 64-bit software may make your database more stable too. If the server will simply be running a database, and you won't be doing clustering, you aren't losing anything by installing Standard Edition rather than Enterprise.

-tigermatt
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Expert Comment

by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22832153
Tigermatt is correct. Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 will work perfect and will save you some money over buying Enterprise edition.
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Author Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 22833442
Cool - thanks for the input - I wasn't concerned about buying enterprise as i have a copy of enterprise x86 and standard x64 - i just wanted to make use of either. thoughts from anyone else?
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by:tigermatt
ID: 22833518

I assume that's an indication for me to keep quiet d:-)

-tm
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Author Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 22833527
no please continue if you have more info :)
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Accepted Solution

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tigermatt earned 125 total points
ID: 22833556

Well, using 64-bit software is renowned to be more reliable, primarily because you can address more RAM natively (without the need to use PAE). However, the only thing I do suggest you look out for is 64-bit compatible drivers - check the Server Hardware has 64-bit support on the CPU, and that you are able to obtain drivers for server components and any external devices. Other than that, I really would go for the x64 Edition, since you don't need any of the features of Enterprise at this stage anyway.

-tigermatt
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Author Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 22833584
we're all good on x64 drivers!

thanks for your help!
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Author Closing Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 31511124
thank you for reaffirming my thoughts :)
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Expert Comment

by:pstrawser
ID: 23103932
If i already have windows 2003 server standard edition.. can i install interprise or the 64bit as an upgrade or i have to install fresh?
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Author Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 23104382
you have to install fresh - you can upgrade from one architecture to another
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Expert Comment

by:pstrawser
ID: 23104400
so you can't just insert the cd and upgrade the OS... that suck really bad for me then.  thanks
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Author Comment

by:cardscomp
ID: 23104460
nope you would have to format and reinstall from scratch or install to an alternate path
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Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
ID: 23107412

Yes, it is a format and reinstall. You CANNOT go cross-architecture (i.e. 32-bit to 64-bit) on an upgrade.
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Expert Comment

by:pstrawser
ID: 23107496
So if i already have 'windows 2003 server standard 32bit server' OS -  i can just upgrade 'windows 2003 server 32bit enterprise' without formating and do a fresh installs
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Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
ID: 23107858

Yep - Standard x86 can be upgraded to Enterprise x86 - see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/whyupgrade/supportedpaths.mspx.

In future, please ask your own question as it keeps the knowledgebase tidy, and stops you hijacking someone else's question (questions are not 'bumped' link a typical forum).
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