Microsoft and Intel quicken Windows 7 apps

Intel has said collaboration with Microsoft could allow Windows 7 to take advantage of multithreaded and multicore chips for faster application performance.

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Intel has said collaboration with Microsoft could allow Windows 7 to take advantage of multithreaded and multicore chips for faster application performance.

The two firms are working together to give Windows 7 the ability to better identify resources available and break up application processing over multiple chip cores and threads.

A feature called SMT parking allows Windows 7 to take advantage of Intel hyperthreading technology for "better performance on hyperthreaded, multicore Intel processors", wrote Joakim Lialias, an Intel alliance manager, in a blog entry on Microsoft's website.

This feature will help users break up tasks like video encoding and image filtering over multiple task-execution threads, said George Alfs, an Intel spokesman.

"The more cores you have, the better," Alfs said. Intel chips based on its new Nehalem architecture are capable of running two threads per core, and ultimately all of Intel's laptop and desktop chips will be based on Nehalem, Alfs said.

The companies also worked together on technologies that could allow Windows 7 to boot and shut down faster, Alfs said. Driver and BIOS-level improvement could improve the start, shut-down, sleep and resume times.

Chips based on the Nehalem microarchitecture can go into an idle state faster than earlier chips, and Windows 7 is designed to take advantage of that capability, Alfs said.

The cooperation of Intel and Microsoft shouldn't come as a surprise. Most PCs today come with Intel chips and Microsoft's Windows operating system, so there is a benefit in both companies working together.

Intel and Microsoft have been collaborating for more than 20 years now, according to Lialias. "Our mutual goal was to provide the most responsive compute experience possible," Lialias wrote.

The blog entry also sheds light on specific hardware-related improvements Microsoft is incorporating into the new OS, something the company has been quiet about. Microsoft wasn't immediately available to comment on the topic.

Observers have criticised Microsoft's previous operating systems for not taking full advantage of multicore and multithreaded chips. Windows 7 will do a more intelligent job of allocating tasks across hardware resources, said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist with In-Stat.

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