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Software Developers Benefit from Windows 8 Hygiene

A new level of hardware and software IP integration is needed for true power optimization.

Both Intel and Microsoft took the stage at the recent Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, CA. Their goal was to highlight a new level of hardware and software integration, which aims to optimize energy usage.

This presentation covered the Windows 8 power-management enhancements targeting software developers, including new ultra-low-power states for mobile devices. Barnes Cooper, Senior PE at Intel, and Stephen Berard, Senior PM at Microsoft, gave the presentation, “Optimizing Battery Life on Intel Architecture Based PCs with Windows 8.”

Not surprisingly, battery life in today’s CPU-based systems is dependent upon both hardware and software factors. Hardware usage determines the extent of power consumption. Software dictates when the hardware is active and idle, which in turn decides when and for how long the system can make use of low-power states.

The speakers talked about CPU-related “hygiene improvements” in Windows 8 that will improve system-level power management. The hygiene-related checklist included:

  • Removal of the periodic system timer tick. Interestingly, earlier Windows operating systems
    (prior to Windows 8)) could be idle for at most 15.6 ms.
  • Removal of component timers where possible and coalescence of periodic timers that could not be removed
  • Moving periodic maintenance work to periods defined by the OS
  • Utilization of a new application model that is optimized for an application’s actual usage

Similar hygienic OS changes have been introduced in the network, storage, and input/output hardware subsystems.

Software – in all of its myriad forms – is now one of the chief causes of increased power consumption. Paying attention to “hygiene” is but one small way to reduce this consumption. Still, every bit helps.

 

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