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Windows 7 Optimized for HyperThreading

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 16 comments

HyperThreading is back in style.

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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  • -4 Hide
    joebob2000 , May 19, 2009 7:47 PM
    Am I the only one who got this as a takeaway?

    Microsoft: "Good news guys, now we support hyperthreading!"
  • -5 Hide
    jerreece , May 19, 2009 7:54 PM
    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).
  • 7 Hide
    hellwig , May 19, 2009 8:36 PM
    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.
  • Display all 16 comments.
  • -5 Hide
    chripuck , May 19, 2009 8:53 PM
    Microsoft has supported HT cores since XP. Anybody could see this with their old P4's w/ HT. I'd see two cores under CPU cores with XP and my old Northwood P4.
  • -7 Hide
    IzzyCraft , May 19, 2009 9:20 PM
    Optimized != support
  • -5 Hide
    dman3k , May 19, 2009 9:21 PM
    Nothing wrong with M$ optimizing the OS for a processor, but I was under the impression that this was common sense and not newsworthy.

    Are we supposed to get excited because M$ improved its threading?
  • -4 Hide
    kelfen , May 19, 2009 9:53 PM
    well lets all compare this to vista lol the excitement is rising and MS is finally optimizing the os and actually imnproving it
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2009 10:30 PM
    I want to hear the story(s) of MS working with AMD to optimize MS' operating system with THEIR processors.
    One of the biggest headaches I encountered was when I upgraded a clients computer with XP SP3 and found it would not boot period. Came to find out that an INTEL power management driver got in there, which confused the AMD Sempron machine. Is it that hard to NOT have an Intel driver install on an AMD build?
    Still... I do enjoy seeing cooperation between hardware and software.
  • -1 Hide
    starhoof , May 19, 2009 11:27 PM
    I think its good, it will give people the power they need. I think it makes a lot of sence, to get stuff worked out now, so people wont have to download all the stuff later, I sure hope they will work out all the bugs =)
  • -4 Hide
    ossie , May 20, 2009 8:43 AM
    Finally, m$'s toy O$ has (proper?) support for a pentium4 feature...
    M. Yam... contains optimizations to take advantage of HyperThreading (and we’ll assume that will also apply to any system with multiple cores).

    You assume wrong. HT can take advantage just if the instructions, in the alternate streams, are destined for different execution units, unlike "real" multicores. If the instruction streams are contending for the same resources, it's just getting worse.
    andetdhdfdbI want to hear the story(s) of MS working with AMD to optimize MS' operating system with THEIR processors.One of the biggest headaches I encountered was when I upgraded a clients computer with XP SP3 and found it would not boot period. Came to find out that an INTEL power management driver got in there, which confused the AMD Sempron machine. Is it that hard to NOT have an Intel driver install on an AMD build?Still... I do enjoy seeing cooperation between hardware and software.

    It's not called wintel for nothing... monopolies stick together.

    Mr. Yam, quit m$ a$$ licking ("ohhh, it's so yummy"), you're getting really pathetic lately..
  • -4 Hide
    captaincharisma , May 20, 2009 1:05 PM
    heh...pathetic blaming intel for an issue with Microsoft windows. your nnot A gay AMD fanboy or nothin
  • -1 Hide
    FlayerSlayer , May 20, 2009 1:16 PM
    I want to see Win7 know the difference between two physical cores and two HT cores. I don't want two threads running one one core while three other cores idle. Use cores 1,3,5,7 before using 2,4,6,8 HT.
  • 0 Hide
    knickle , May 20, 2009 3:36 PM
    jerreece...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).

    As far as I know, there aren't any big updates for Win7 RC. It was probably just the "test" updates as seen in this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/windows-update-testing-release-candidate,7768.html
  • -1 Hide
    lordfisch , May 20, 2009 4:34 PM
    You know what's awesome? People who still use a dollar sign for an 'S' like it's still funny or relevant.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , May 20, 2009 6:56 PM
    oh yea just as relevent as l33t and woot are now LOL
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 22, 2012 3:01 PM
    Hyper-threading, is like driving a car and texting at the same time. If you disable it in your bios, 90% of your PC problems will go away.