Windows 7 Optimized for HyperThreading

HyperThreading was cool. It was an innovative way to process threads concurrently without actually having two physical CPU cores. Of course, then we got two (or more) physical cores with the Core 2 processor, and so went away HyperThreading. But now HyperThreading is back with Intel’s Nehalem and even Atom processors supporting the technology, and Microsoft’s optimizing Windows 7 for it.

Bill Veghte, senior vice president for Windows business, spoke last week at the Tech•Ed event and touched upon many upcoming Windows technologies. As expected, Microsoft works closely with partners such as Intel to ensure that software takes advantage of the hardware.

Veghte explained that Microsoft and Intel worked closely together on many angles. “One is around power management, power management in what they do across their cores and across their chipsets, and what we do in the OS. And the work that we've done across Windows 7 and Nehalem, the Nehalem lineup, I think you'll be very, very, very excited about,” he said.

With Nehalem’s arrival, Intel’s HyperThreading technology is back. Veghte explains that Windows 7 contains optimizations to take advantage of HyperThreading (and we’ll assume that will also apply to any system with multiple cores).

“The second thing that we're excited to announce in terms of the cooperation and the work that's been done is around hyper-threading. And obviously the work that Intel has done around hyper-threading across a multi-core system is absolutely critical for you,” said Veghte. “And so the work that we've done in Windows 7 in the scheduler and in the core of the system to take full advantage of those capabilities, ultimately we think together we can deliver a great and better experience for you.”

Some enhancements could be related to changes in how Windows 7 renders its 2D desktop graphics. (Read more here.)

Of course, it’s only natural to see software evolving alongside hardware, but it’s things like this that Microsoft hopes will be enough to get users still stuck on Windows XP to ditch the aging OS for the new and shiny one.

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  • joebob2000
    Am I the only one who got this as a takeaway?

    Microsoft: "Good news guys, now we support hyperthreading!"
  • jerreece
    Speaking of "power management", I just installed Win 7 RC last night. Much to my surprise, the vanilla install does some default power management things I didn't much care for.

    By default, my Desktop PC was set to "Balanced", was set to SLEEP after 20 minutes, and the CPU was set to throttle itself before increasing fan speed ("Passive Cooling").

    I had to manually configure it to "Active Cooling" so it would increase fan speed before it throttles the CPU, had to manually setup a Performance setting, and turn off all the SLEEP and Hybrid Hibernation settings. Hopefully this isn't what Microsoft and Intel conspired to set up and call "power management".

    Reinstalled Age of Conan, and left my PC on overnight to let it download it's 3GB worth of updates. Much to my surprise, my system was off in the morning, and had never updated (thanks to the default Sleep setting).
  • hellwig
    I think that they mean they recognize when a core is virtual, and schedule jobs accordingly. Before Ht cores just showed up as regular cores, and probably weren't tasked appropriately.

    I.e. maybe now they can reduce the number of active cores by sending background tasks to the virtual HT core of an already active real core. Rather than use two physical cores, they can use only one, reduce power consumption. If that's the case, this is a good thing (now AMD needs to add them in).

    It might also mean they won't send your video games or rendering software to HT cores knowing they aren't as efficient as real cores.

    If Microsoft just means they can use all 8 cores (real/HT) of the Core i7s, I'm not impressed.