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Improved hardware and software compatibility one of the top three goals of Windows 7 development

Microsoft is working hard to make things better for the launch of Windows 7 following the lukewarm reception to Windows Vista. Vista was plagued with early hardware and software incompatibility issues that were one of the main reasons enterprise customers refused to migrate from XP.

Microsoft says that among the improvements in Windows 7 is better support for Hyper-Threading according to Microsoft's Bill Veghte. Veghte says that Microsoft has been working closely with Intel to beef up Windows 7’s support for Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading it a technique used by Intel to allow processing tasks to be divided among multiple cores on a processor.

Veghte said at the Microsoft TechEd conference, "The work that we've done in Windows 7 in the scheduler and the core of the system to take full advantage of those capabilities, ultimately we think we can deliver a great and better experience for you. We need to make sure the ecosystem is really, really ready."

Veghte is keen to get people to understand that Windows 7 won’t suffer from the same early problems Vista had that prevented the operating system from making headway in enterprise environments. He says that Windows 7 is "very, very close" to achieving full compatibility with virtually all hardware and software makers.

Microsoft currently expects to finish Windows 7 by mid-August and offer a final version to consumers and businesses by the holiday shopping season. That is a key target for Microsoft as a better operating system could woo consumers to buy new computers for the holidays. Better computer sales is certainly something that both Microsoft and computer makers need. Microsoft has admitted that Windows sales are down 16% in the most recent fiscal quarter.

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RE: Really HT?
By voodooboy on 5/15/2009 3:03:04 PM , Rating: 5
While the essence of what you say is're just repeating what Intel wants you to.

What HyperThreading does is keep the processor pipeline filled with useful data as much as it can. In reality, it does NOTHING to emulate multiple cores. What an HT enabled processor has in fact, is a few key components either duplicated (TLB, a 2nd Inst pointer) OR enlarged (register renaming/mapping hardware, inst window(?)) so as to keep the pipeline full (with data possibly from another thread) if the existing thread is either waiting on something or not making full use of the available resources.
So yes, while Intel's marketing department might want us to believe that HT is out of this world, realistically, it is something that just makes better use of the available resources.
So THIS is the reason why having 2 physical processor cores is MUCH better than having one with HT enabled...for the right applications.

RE: Really HT?
By segerstein on 5/15/2009 4:10:02 PM , Rating: 2
If the two threads work with the same dataset, then it is better for them to be put one one physical core - so they can share L1 (&L2) cache.

RE: Really HT?
By GeorgeOu on 5/15/2009 4:51:00 PM , Rating: 2
Having 2 physical cores is better than 2 HT cores if and only if the cores have comparable performance and if the former has more physical cores. If you have a situation where it's 2 physical cores with no HT versus 2 physical cores with HT making 4 virtual cores, the latter is generally better even if the cores are comparable in overall performance. That's because the latter can keep the processor more busy and this is very helpful for multiple applications running at the same time or a multi-threaded application. It's less helpful (or possibly a detriment) if you are only running a single application that is single threaded.

Here's a great illustration why physical cores aren't always better. AMD likes to say physical cores are better than HT cores in their marketing campaign. The problem is that a two-socket Intel Nehalem-EP is faster than a four-socket AMD Shanghai server despite having half the physical cores.

RE: Really HT?
By voodooboy on 5/15/2009 5:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't that what I said myself? :) Just that instead of comparing 2 cores with and without HT..I compared 1..

RE: Really HT?
By Chocobollz on 5/16/2009 3:06:20 AM , Rating: 2
I'd say you both are correct. I myself would like to have all processors be equipped with HT because yes, adding more cores adds more performance, but it's still inefficient and that's where HT is needed, to make the processor more efficient. So both adding more cores and adding HT capability is good. IIRC, adding HT capability to current processor only add 10% to the total transistors count anyway, so why not? :-)

RE: Really HT?
By Visual on 5/16/2009 2:56:04 AM , Rating: 3
i think you misunderstood the point. it wasn't about how many cores total there were or if HT was enabled - for this it usually goes "the more, the better"
the question was about where two threads get scheduled by the OS. when both a separate real core and a virtual cpu on the same physical core are available for the second thread, it is most often better to use the separate real core.
and we are talking single-socket here.

RE: Really HT?
By DeepBlue1975 on 5/17/2009 8:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that...

Then there's also the fact that HT was introduced with NetBurst, an architecture that had trouble having its (very long) pipelines correctly fed, specially when the pipeline had to be flushed because of a miss.
There HT made a lot of sense as it was a means of masking those shortcomings for SOME coding patterns, while other patterns were largely unaffected or even some saw a performance penalty.

In C2D architecture the original HT spec couldn't actually bring much to the table, that's why it took so long for it to reappear.

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