Sunday, June 23, 2024

MSFT, Intel Cooperate on Windows 7

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Butch and Sundance of tech ride again, only this time they’ve come to San Francisco, not Bolivia.

Microsoft and Intel came to town to discuss their partnership, which seemed a little weak a few years back, in the development of Windows 7.

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that Vista’s development process was uneven. Just look at the results. For Windows 7, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) engaged hardware partners, including Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), much sooner. Changes to the architecture, for instance, were made known as far as 18 months in advance, according to Michael Angiulo, general manager of Microsoft’s planning and PC ecosystem group.

Angiulo said Microsoft worked with Intel on driver optimization for asynchronous loading during the boot process, so drivers loaded faster. In turn, Intel made its platform changes known to Microsoft much sooner.

“We’ve been working longer throughout the development cycle and have development programs all throughout Intel’s platform and have been making decisions based on everyone’s best results,” Steve Smith, vice president and director of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, told reporters at today’s event.

The two firms emphasized their work on power management and allowing the hardware to get into a low power state, called a C6 power state, and stay there. Using an updated program called Trace, engineers could dig down into an application and into the hardware to determine what was waking the system up from low power states.

Among its many problems, Vista was pretty bad when it came to battery life. Intel and Microsoft found that it kept waking from its low power state and never truly stayed asleep very long. The two companies worked together on this electronic sleep apnea and were able to produce longer battery life.

How much is open to question. One demo station showed two identical laptops, and the one running Windows 7 saw a 20 percent battery life gain in DVD playback, according to Ruston Panabaker, principal program manager at Microsoft. However, he declined to state any figures when asked about other lower states and usages.

Windows 7 has a thread scheduler to optimize the use of hyperthreading. It intelligently recognizes which systems have hyperthreading and schedules for performance and thread management accordingly. It also recognizes hyperthreads and physical threads to make decisions, and will migrate threads to an available core at the appropriate time when necessary.

Windows 7 will also support the AES encryption (define) instructions that will be in Westmere, the next iteration of Intel’s Nehalem architecture. A benchmark showed how much of a difference in speed the AES can make. A benchmark with AES encryption turned off ran at 286 Mbps, while the AES-enabled benchmark ran at 3.25 Gbps per second.

Other features for Windows 7 include the Windows XP virtual mode, tools for parallelism to do development for multi-threading and DirectX 11 support. One new API in DirectX 11 is DirectCompute, which allows software developers to write code to offload certain tasks to the GPU.

Windows 7 is due to ship Oct. 22.

Intel is due to hold its annual Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Sept. 22, where a number of sessions dedicated to Windows 7 are scheduled, including a talk by systems internals expert Mark Russinovich.

Article courtesy of

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