|26 Oct 2009||#1|
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Making PCs Run Faster And Longer
Intel and Microsoft have been collaborating for more than 20 years. The day Microsoft launched Windows Vista; we had already been collaborating on Windows 7. The joint team quickly grew to several hundred engineers. Last week, the work we did together became a reality. While marrying Intel’s future Intel Core processors with Microsoft’s latest operating system was quite possibly the biggest undertaking to date for the two companies, there was a very short list of top priorities from users.
First, make notebooks run longer (“I want to watch the whole DVD on the airplane.”). Second, make it run everything faster (“I want to start work when I turn it on and don’t want that DVD, encryption or anything else to slow it down.”) So, Microsoft and Intel set to work.
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to show some journalists what our engineers had come up with as a result of the collaboration. The resulting stories provide a good overview of some of the unique advances that the collaboration achieved to improve PCs.
Don’t we all hate it when the latest blockbuster we brought along for a long plane ride drains the laptop battery right at the climax. Of course, the same is true of other mobile situations – catching up at coffee shops, sharing photos and videos with friends, comparing prices while shopping – where plugging in is either a hassle or impossible.
To get to the movies’ credits, the team optimized resource utilization throughout the system. Devices were aggressively powered down, busses shut off when possible and Intel processors were kept in their Deep Power Down state longer and more often. The new Microsoft Windows 7 timer coalescing feature, which minimizes the time a processor is running in high gear, to take advantage of Intel Deep Power Down Technology is a good example of how we worked together to optimize our products. By applying such power saving techniques throughout the system and reducing resource utilization Microsoft and Intel engineers were able to reduce power usage of a Windows 7 laptop nearly 20 percent over an identical laptop running Windows Vista SP2. That gained an additional 1.4 hours of battery life, enough extra power to blow by the credits and see all of the special features.
Getting computers to do things faster is something Microsoft and Intel have been doing for a couple of decades. However, with Windows 7 and Intel’s new Core processors rolling out at roughly the same time, the team saw the opportunity to really put rocket engines on PCs. Possibly the most significant performance advancement is enabling the Windows 7 kernel to intelligently manipulate threads in the recently improved Intel Hyper-Threading Technology. The kernel scheduler juggles thread connections with respect to such things as logical processor/core relationships, thread-to-core distribution, and parking and unparking second logical processors in cores to match the workload. Also, the Westmere system we showed reporters was equipped with Intel Solid State Drives, reflecting another area of collaboration.
Skip the formal benchmarks. The companies made their point by booting a PC based on an Intel reference design in less than 11 seconds. Actually, that may be too fast for many as it doesn’t allow sufficient time to get a cup of coffee that many of us are used to doing.
OK, I have a vested interest, but with Windows 7 getting such hardy reviews and its optimization for new advances in Intel processors, now seems to me like a pretty good time to buy a new PC.
Microsoft Alliance Manager - Intel
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