'Responsiveness really is king, 'Multicore requires OS rework,' Windows architect advises

Dave Probert of Microsoft at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Universal Parallel Computing Research Center said “With chip makers continuing to increase ‘number of cores’ they include on each new gen processors, perhaps it's time to rethink ‘basic architecture’ of today's operating systems. Current approach to harnessing power of multicore processors is complicated and not […]

Dave Probert of Microsoft at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Universal Parallel Computing Research Center said “With chip makers continuing to increase ‘number of cores’ they include on each new gen processors, perhaps it's time to rethink ‘basic architecture’ of today's operating systems. Current approach to harnessing power of multicore processors is complicated and not entirely successful. The key mayn’t be in throwing more energy into refining techniques such as parallel programming, but rather rethinking basic abstractions that make up OSs model. Today's computers don't get enough performance out of their multicore chips, Probert said. "Why should you ever, with all this parallel hardware, ever be waiting for your computer?" he asked. For the talk, he set out to define what a new OS, if designed by scratch, would look like today. He concluded it would be quite different from Windows or Unix. Today's typical desktop computer runs multiple programs at once, playing music while user writes an e-mail and surfs Web, for instance. "Responsiveness really is king," he said. "This’s what people want."”

More info: Multicore requires OS rework, Windows architect advises