Windows 8 and Multi-Core Support

These days just about every computer on the market features at least two cores, even many Atom netbooks and even some tablets.

The great thing about multiple core processing is the ability to do certain tasks more efficiently, but this only works if programs are designed to take advantage of multi-core setups, right? Today’s software has a lot of great multi-core support built in from games to even word processors.

What about the operating system itself? Windows 7 certainly makes use of multi-core processors but Windows 8 will take this concept in new directions that Windows 7 can only dream of.

With Windows 8 the cores will work together when the system is preparing itself for tasks such as hibernation and resume. In Windows 7 and early Windows this would only matter for those actually using “hibernation” mode but in Windows 8 these processes will carry over even to shut down and even reboot.

Microsoft feels that completely shutting down and rebooting the kernel session is entirely unnecessary and so Windows 8 will now just ‘hibernate’ the kernel session and only shutdown the user session when a computer is shut down or restarted.

If you aren’t familiar with what hibernation is, basically its saving the system state and memory to a file on the disk drive and that reading back to these contents, instead of reloading them completely. What does this mean for the average user then?

The biggest advantage to this new system is that we will see much faster boots times, depending on the hardware in question this could be as much as 30-70% faster than before.
Beyond just booting, Windows 8 is really pulling out all the stops when it comes to making the most of multi-core setups.

In Windows 8 even the task manager is evolving to make better use of the current and future multi-core technologies. The new task manager is actually capable of handling 160 logical cores at once, something that Windows 7 can’t. Of course at this point this seems pretty moot and even by the time Windows 9 rolls around it is doubtful that such setups will really be needed, still it’s nice that Microsoft is thinking about the future.

Windows 7 is a great operating system, but with Windows 8 we are seeing an evolution of the interface with Metro, better multi-core processor, ARM processor support, Metro search, and overall improved speed and functionality.

Many users argue that the only real change from 7 to 8 is Metro. Metro plays a key role in Windows 8 but speed, performance, and better handling are just as important of changes. For those who hate Metro and think there isn’t enough being offered, remember that Mac OS Snow Leopard didn’t add that much (this could be argued) beyond speed and performance.

Despite mild changes between these versions it certainly worth the money for many users.

With only the Developer Preview to go on, it’s hard to know how stable or faster the OS will be but considering the vast improvements from Vista to 7 it is safe to say we can at least be hopeful.  What do you think about Windows 8? Is it shaping up to offer enough of an improvement or is it looking to be just another Windows Vista disaster?

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