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Windows leads Linux in multicore development

So we just finished up writing out story about the future of operating systems, for our 25th anniversary issue, due to hit your in-boxes next week. For this story, we interviewed Jim Held, the director of the tera-scale computing for Intel.

One thing we learned is that because Intel (and its rival Advanced Micro Devices) is piling more and more cores onto its microprocessors, operating systems will have to take on some new duties. Namely, each OS must have a way to divvy up all the applications it is running at any given time among all the available cores.

"The mainstream operating systems will have to go where they haven't been before, and that is to support parallel programming in the software," Held said.

You'd think that the brainy Linux kernel developers would be all over this challenge, but interestingly enough, it is Microsoft that is ahead in this game, according to Held.

"The Linux community has indicated that they are very skeptical of how quickly they will have to move," Held said. "They weren't so sure of how the community would latch on to large-scale chip multi-processing."

In all fairness, Intel has been talking up some extremely large-scale CMP, dreaming about 80 cores or more per chip.

The folks at Microsoft, on the other hand, seem to be more supportive of Intel's ambitions.

"Microsoft is very much engaged in planning of this future of many-core. I think they recognize the importance of parallelism. They are trying to learn from the experiences of in the supercomputing space as much as they can."

Such work is important, Held insisted.

"With thread-level parallelism, while we'll continue to get performance increases in individual cores, the big boost in performance will come from parallelism. Microsoft recognizes that and is moving to address that," Held said.

Update (Dec 17, 2008): The New York Times published an article on the work Microsoft is doing in the multicore space.



Posted by Joab Jackson on Dec 04, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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