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Microsoft has focused on strong multicore support in Windows 7 to deliver superior performance. These improvements will really kick in when developers start using Visual Studio 2010, a software development suite that offers greatly improved tools to leverage the power of multiple CPUs.

Jon Devaan is head of Windows Core Operating System Division and led the Windows 7 multicore improvements.  (Source: CNET)
The company is taking multi-core performance very seriously

Microsoft is ready to put the Windows Vista era behind it and is moving on to a Windows 7 world starting October 22. Among Windows 7's greatest strengths is a combination of power and efficiency.  Faster and with new APIs like DirectX 11, the new OS looks to deliver impressive results, assuming driver makers can live up to their end of the bargain and write efficient drivers for the new OS. 

One strength of Windows 7 that's not always talked about, but is lurking under the surface of many of the operating system's advancements is its improved use of multiple cores.  With Intel and AMD flooding the market with multi-core designs, the gigahertz war is dead and a new war is brewing -- a battle for the most cores, and the most efficient cores.

Microsoft has enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity to utilize this power with Windows 7.  The new OS can support up to 256 cores, versus 64 in Vista.  Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Core Operating System Division says this change was particularly weighty.  He states, "One dimension is support for a much larger number of processors and getting good linear scaling on that change from 64 to 256 processors.  There's all kinds of depth in that change."

The improvements that enabled the increased number of cores also will improve performance with standard consumer numbers of cores -- typically 2 to 4 -- via improvements in cache and workload balancing.  Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 also features greatly improved support for multi-threading and should allow Windows applications makers to make more efficient Windows 7 apps that leverage multiple cores.

Evans Data analyst Janel Garvin says that is perhaps the most important change.  He states, "An operating system is never going to be able to take an application that isn't already parallel and make it so. Developers still need to multi-thread their apps.  Microsoft has done surprisingly little until recently to help developers write parallel applications, except for their alliance with Intel to promote Parallel Studio."

He continues, "However, in the last year they've made some announcements and promises for Visual Studio 2010 about enhanced tools for parallel programming. It's likely that the success of Parallel Studio has impressed upon them the importance of providing Windows developers with the tools they need to remain competitive going into the future when manycore will be the standard."

Visual Studio 2010 offers many improvements including Task Parallel Library (used for performing tasks like loops simultaneously when circumstances permit), Parallel Language Integrated Query (PLINQ) (used for parallel data operations), Microsoft Concurrency Runtime (scheduling and resource management), Asynchronous Agents Library (provides improved inter-thread messaging), and finally the Parallel Pattern Library (geared for C++ users).

Despite the vast improvements even Mr. DeVaan acknowledges the art of exploiting multiple cores is still evolving.  He adds, "As an industry, we're going to be working hard to make it work better and working with broad set of developers to target (multicore programming) without undue work.  Will these approaches really accomplish it? That's an open question."

With Microsoft's primary competitor Apple also focusing on multi-threading with its developer-geared Grand Central Dispatch multitasking model built into Snow Leopard, the ability to properly leverage multiple cores is a crucial task for Windows 7.  And it appears that the upcoming OS will be rising to the occasion.



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RE: DirectX 1,1
By stonemetal on 10/13/2009 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's this not-so-subtle comparison of 7 to Vista that I can't stand. Vista isn't bad at all.


I always liked that about the news about MS. 64 cores isn't bad but look we made it better not only better but 4 times better. Compare this to the news about Apple's Grand Central. Which is basically threading on our OS is horrible, and rather than fix the actual problem we created this new thing that if you squint just right works around it. Yep we're that good.


RE: DirectX 1,1
By sprockkets on 10/13/2009 4:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Which is basically threading on our OS is horrible, and rather than fix the actual problem we created this new thing that if you squint just right works around it.


Err, what are you talking/referring to?

FYI Windows is so pathetic with resources that it runs all its stuff under one "svchost" instead of one process per a task like any Unix system does, because each process spawned uses a lot of overhead in WinNT systems.

Adding insult to injury, 64 bit Windows isn't really 64 bit. It uses LLP64, in which all integral types remain 32-bit values and only pointers expand to 64-bit values. Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/01/...

The rest of the world chose LP64, and you can read here why they did:

http://www.unix.org/version2/whatsnew/lp64_wp.html

Why don't you first read up on LLVM first before saying OSX is deficient? While Microsoft is promising this down the road, OSX Snow Leopard already delivered.


RE: DirectX 1,1
By stonemetal on 10/13/2009 10:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2520&p...
OS X sucks at threading. It is something they need to work on but rather than fix the issue they have come up with GCD to ride the marketing wave around multi-threading with out doing the work. Microsoft is doing the same here only they have improved the existing system instead of working around it like the Grand Central BS does.

To start and stop a thread in Linux takes about 1/50 the time it takes to start a thread in OS X. Actually thread creation time in Windows and OS X is the same.
quote:
LLVM first before saying OSX is deficient

What does LLVM have to do with OS X? You can run it on windows or Linux just as easily.


RE: DirectX 1,1
By sprockkets on 10/14/2009 12:41:02 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, thought that what you were referring to :)

Here's the problem with that article, one that made this site look bad.

MySQL has pre compiled binaries to overcome this issue, thus, the issue of performance on OSX was severely understated. In real life, no one is going to hand compile mysql when the pre compiled ones are much better anyhow.

This also was back in the day when the server was G5 based.

This article better explains it; it is a pro apple site, but since I was around for the 80s and 90s, my recollection of history coincides with his. He also documents the failures of Apple as well.

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/0506.linuxmyth2.2.ht...

Whoops, Clang, a front end to LLVM is what Apple is sponsoring. Sure you can run it on other platforms; unlike Microsoft, Apple isn't anal about being cross-platform where it can benefit them :)


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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