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Why Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen Will Only Be Optimized On Windows 10 ( 276

MojoKid writes: There was quite a stir caused recently when it was determined that Microsoft would only be fully supporting Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's Zen next-generation processor microarchitectures with Windows 10. It's easy to dismiss the decision as pure marketing move, but there's more to consider and a distinction to be made between support and compatibility. The decision means future updates and optimizations that take advantage of the latest architectural enhancements in these new processors won't be made for older OS versions. Both of these microarchitectures have new features that require significant updates to Windows 10 to optimally function. Kaby Lake has updates to Intel's Speed Shift technology that make it possible to change power states more quickly than Skylake, for example. Then there's Intel's Turbo Boost 3.0, which is only baked natively into Windows 10 Redstone 1. For an operating system to optimally support AMD's Zen-based processors, major updates are likely necessary as well. Zen has fine-grained clock gating with multi-level regions throughout the chip, in addition to newer Simultaneous Multi-Threading technology for AMD chips. To properly leverage the tech in Zen, Microsoft will likely have to make updates to the Windows kernel and system scheduler, which is more involved than a driver update. Of course, older versions of Windows and alternative operating systems will still install and run on Kaby Lake and Zen. They are x86 processors, after all.
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Why Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen Will Only Be Optimized On Windows 10

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    stll not upgradng to it , f U

    • Is that like getting your airport experience optimized by the TSA?

  • by tyme ( 6621 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:40PM (#52838713) Homepage Journal
    I can think of two other operating systems, other than Windows 10, that will "Optimize" Kaby Lake processors, but I'll leave it as an exercise for the student to figure out which ones they are.
    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:47PM (#52838749) Journal

      Well Linux started supporting the new CPU features six months ago. Probably earlier inside Intel - when you're wanting to test your new CPU features before you release the CPU, you can either wait for Microsoft to use them in Windows, or do it yourself in Linux.

      I know that was done with x64, AMD ported Linux's existing 64 bit support, then a few years later Microsoft released 64 bit Windows.

      • by deragon ( 112986 )
        What about the multi-monitor issue that plagues Skylake? Is Kaby Lake support better? See: []
        • Has multimonitor support in linux ever been decent? i've always been a windows user, and when 10-15 years ago i was playing around with linux a bit, my first issue was up to date display drivers (i had a pretty bleeding edge graphics card back then). But after that was resolved, multimonitor support was abysmal compared to windows >__. I was really frustrated by the poor support of something so basic)

          • I haven't tried it for a long time, but in 2003 I had a Matrox G550 and later upgraded to a Radeon R200. Both supported dual monitors in FreeBSD (I presume Linux support was at least as good, as much of the relevant X code was originally written and tested on Linux). It worked in both dual screen and Xinerama mode (one virtual screen, windows could span between them). On one of the cards, you only got 3D acceleration on the primary monitor, but Windows had the same issue. The main problem was that in Xi
          • I had no problems with triple monitor support years ago under Linux. Moral of the story - bleeding edge will cut you - and it's not needed for most users. We're into the second decade of "good enough" computing. Incremental improvements are all we ask for - which is why Windows 10 isn't wanted - it's simply not able to grab mind share from those who are satisfied with their good enough systems without the concerns that make even Vista look better wrt intrusive crap.
          • Has multimonitor support in linux ever been decent? i've always been a windows user, and when 10-15 years ago i was playing around with linux a bit, my first issue was up to date display drivers (i had a pretty bleeding edge graphics card back then). But after that was resolved, multimonitor support was abysmal compared to windows >__. I was really frustrated by the poor support of something so basic)

            Yes, because even thought Windows has moved on, Linux is exactly like it was 15 years ago.

            Hey, let's talk about how shitty Windows 1 was. Or I'm always up for discussions about 286 intel computers.

          • by Burz ( 138833 )

            Ubuntu has done a good job with multi-monitor support. Its one of the focal points of the dev community and they have posted youtube videos showing their progress with multi-monitor functions.

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      Sad thing is if I guessed "WIndows 10 Anniversary Edtion" and "Windows 10 sold by some pirate on the street in China" either would outsell your guesses by orders of magnitude...

      • And I can say with some faith that any "fell-off-the-truck" version of Win7 and Win8.1 that actually registers ok with MS would outsell either of those by some magnitudes.

    • Windows 10 ? No.

    • The ancients here will remember the IBM of the 1980s. And maaaaybe the early 1990s. A juggernaut that pretty much dictated how you would use computers if you dared to think you would, if you were a halfway decently sized company. Sure, there were petty little startups like that fruity company that created their "home computer" in 1978, but that was stuff a serious business company like IBM couldn't even snicker over. There was no sidestepping them, and they knew it. Anything central processing? Mainframe? I

      • You're absolutely right - every once in a while, some company comes along with a product that allows them to entrench themselves deeply into the fabric of business, and eventually they start to abuse that position until there is a tipping point where business will grasp at anything that might allow them to get away. We saw it with AT&T. We saw it with IBM. We're seeing it with Microsoft and Cisco now. And these are just the tech companies.

    • OS/2 and CP/M?
  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:43PM (#52838735)

    After all, while Win10 will have those performance improvements, they will most likely be negated by all the spyware bullshit installed by the integrated adware/data mining system.

  • And Linux, BSD etc (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:48PM (#52838751)

    Can we phrase this the other way that doesn't make Microsoft look good? Just say Windows 8.1 and older will not get updates for Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen.

    We expect most modern OSes to do these kinds of upgrades. Only calling out Windows 10 makes it seem like these are somehow special windows features, when they are nothing of the sort. Linux already has patches available for Intel's Turbo Boost 3.0 [], and that's just the first example I searched for.

  • misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sittingnut ( 88521 ) <sittingnut&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:56PM (#52838773) Homepage

    "Why Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen Will Only Be Optimized On Windows 10 "

    that is misleadingly worded.

    correctly speaking m$ will only optimize windows 10 for these processors. they can optimize their older os to these, if they want to, but will not due to costs, etc.
    similarly any other os can optimize for these processors, if they want to. there is no prohibition for doing that.

    why editors at /. want to word this only from m$ pov leading to misleading readings(in at least 2 summaries dealing with this issue) is puzzling.

    • Re:misleading (Score:4, Insightful)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @12:09AM (#52838815) Journal

      but will not due to costs, etc.

      It's nothing to do with costs and everything to do with ramming Windows 10 down the throats of Microsoft's users.

      • I don't think anyone disputes that notion. However, there IS a product lifecycle with most, if not all, commercial software. As such, mainstream support for Windows 7 ended January 13, 2015, with extended support for January 14, 2020. Basically, all features were frozen on or before the end of mainstream with security patches still being offered through till 2020.

        As for Windows 8 - January 9, 2018 mainstream - January 10, 2023 extended. Though, if you have Windows 8, there isn't much of a reason not to upgr

        • Offtopic, and very much so: it's ridiculous to say "if you have any questions, refer to...".
          I would really like to know who killed JFK, would that link tell me?

          Just a pet peeve of mine (the "questions" thing, not the JFK thing)

      • Not the throat, the other end.
    • Errr are you okay? The headline is exactly as you wanted it to be and right on the money.

      Also why word it from an MS point of view? Because all previous articles talked only from an MS point of view. And all comments were directed at MS. So why not discuss an MS issue from an MS point of view.

    • Try running MACOSX 2009 era Snow Leopard on a brand new Mac .... what? HOW COULD APPLe not support that? Greedy bastards.

      At least you can run Linux kernel 2.6 Redhat 6 ... oh yeah same thing

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @11:58PM (#52838783)

    When I hear or see the word "turbo", my first thought is of this Far Side cartoon [].

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      I knew what you were referencing as soon as I read "when i hear or see turbo" - that was one of a half dozen blown up on my wall (don't tell the copyright police) when I was a kid...

  • Microsoft will have another Windows version out before this actually gets to market.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      What have you heard? Has there been delays for both? Last I heard about Zen was Q1 2017 and Kaby lake was Q4 2016.
      • I have heard nothing. Just an observational guess. MS has a long list of issues that still need fixing on windows 10. Multiple software houses still need to make changes to have Win 10 compatibility. Now they are going to slap some new code in for new hardware features on a new chip? I don't see it happening. Not unless it is a purchasable 'upgrade' of some sorts. Which we all know is going to happen anyways. Which will make it a 'different' version.

  • Not the first time (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @01:27AM (#52839003)
    Not the first time - Microsoft only fully supported the Pentium Pro, Pentium II and descendants on their server line of software.
    Windows XP was stuck on 4GB even when the hardware could support more in MS Server 2003, linux and all the rest.
    Annoying as fuck, a step backwards and one reason a Win2k machine in my workplace (two sockets and 6GB) was kept on Win2k for well over a decade.

    For those without a clue who want to challenge this, at least look up PAE so you don't look so stupid when you do so.
  • You need to know how Microsoft operates to understand this. Once a release of Windows is "done", its support is handed over to Sustained Engineering organization. This org is where you go if you can't make it at Microsoft proper. They simply have neither the capability nor the desire to add new features to operating system versions you can't even buy anymore.

    Consider also that the vast majority of "normal" people only update the OS to a new release when they buy a new computer. So support for newer hardware

  • Other than the gamer community which seems to be Windows-focused - and I'm not one of you - who gives a bubbly-fart? Anything beyond W7 is utter nonsense and I use Linux for everything other than a very specific DAW app for which I use a W7 dual-boot arrangement. Fuck everything W8+!!!!
  • "Optimization" (Score:3, Informative)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @02:47AM (#52839147) Homepage

    It is as simple as this: These new CPUs have integrated GPUs. I do believe these GPUs are fully DirectX 12 compatible. DX 12 only works on Windows 10, while Windows 7 supports DX 11. This is most likely the majority of the "support" and "optimizations" in Windows 10 for these new CPUs. The GPUs will still operate win DX 11 mode, just with a few new features disabled.

    • The GPUs will still operate win DX 11 mode, just with a few new features disabled

      But if Intel doesn't release drivers for older versions of Windows, that probably won't matter. The GPU will be a Basic Display Adapter (aka VGA).

  • Last time I checked chipset drivers for Intel are maintained by Intel them self. Only relevant M$ driver I can think of that would be affected is the ACPI. So pretty much all the work and cost supporting Windows 7 would be done by Intel.
  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @04:09AM (#52839321)
    No disrespect intended to MojoKid, but this story about Microsoft being unable to optimize pre-Windows 10 Operating Systems for older processors is outright nonsense.

    I've been working with the "Windows NT" family of operating systems [i.e. the codebase that Microsoft developed after they grabbed all the VMS OS Programmers from Digital] since NT3.51. Since that OS release, as this Microsoft Knowledgebase article shows [] Microsoft's 32-bit [and now 64-bit] Windows offerings included a proper Hardware Abstraction Layer. In other words, it is possible for Microsoft to replace the HAL for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 with one that is entirely compatible with these latest Intel and AMD chips. In fact, this story is almost laughable, given that the HAL was designed and conceived specifically to allow for seamless transition between successive generations of processor platform.

    For example, Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 actually introduced support for the PowerPC processor [the Motorola/IBM design that evolved into the CUBE processors that are found inside PS/3s]. In order for Microsoft to be able to support NT3.51 on two hugely different processor architectures, they needed a way of maintaining a very complex codebase easily. The HAL was the answer. By abstracting away the details of the low-level hardware and having the basics of the OS "Windows Services" call an internal API, Microsoft made it possible to maintain a single block of source code [above this watermark] that was then compiled down onto each architecture. This is the whole point of abstraction layers.

    This is an old Microsoft trick, previously used to great effect with the "DirectX" scam, in which Microsoft would wait for a new generation of GPUs, then introduce a new edition of DirectX to take account of the enhanced functionality of the GPU silicon, only to not back-port that DirectX release to older OS versions [thereby forcing gamers to upgrade]. Over the last few years the gaming market has shifted away from PCs and on to either consoles or portable devices [tablets and phones], so there is less demand for gaming on PCs: consequently, Microsoft needed a new incentive to force OS upgrades - and this is it.

    Microsoft would love for you to forget about the HAL. The problem is that the world has moved on. 10, 15 years ago, the Wintel hegemony relied upon new Windows features to drive the latest generation of hardware sales. All that is now upside down. People don't care about the OS; they are using portable or cloud applications anyway, so now the "wow factor" is driven by the latest generation of hardware - see what effect new Apple product has. Microsoft have learned from this, so now they are using new processors as pull-through to forcibly migrate users on to Windows 10, to try and discourage them from porting their retail license copies of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 onto latest-generation hardware.

    It's perfectly OK for Microsoft to do this. It's their code. They can do what they want. I'm not going to rail against them for making a decision that they have a perfect right to make.

    What I most definitely DO object to is the deployment of specious half-truths as justification.
  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @04:21AM (#52839349)

    I know, the header is needlessly gloomy, but haven't we, some time ago, reached the point where advances in HW are no longer all that interesting? There were major excitements when we went from 8 to 16 bit, 32 bits 64 bits; and with the introduction of protected memory (which made pre-emptive multitasking workable) and virtualisation. It's been long since I thought a new CPU feature would be worth upgrading for - it would be great to have more cores and RAM, but it can wait. And while quantum computing, graphene and carbon nanotubes are promising technologies that may boost the speed to incredible heights, I probably wouldn't even notice the difference between a response time of a millisecond and a nanosecond. Yeah, some things would be snappier, but as a consumer, it won't matter enough for me to really care.

    The same goes for SW - I haven't seen anything for almost a decade, that I thought I must have. I have all the tools I need and more: editors, compilers, databases engines galore, office packages, several classes of graphics editors (bitmap, vector, ray tracing, ..), I can design fonts that stretch all the way to the far end of Unicode and so on. Of course, because I use Linux, I have all of these things on any HW I am ever likely to encounter (and where they are relevant; I don't at the moment foresee a need for running Oracle or Glassfish on a mobile).

    I guess the big question here is - from a consumer's point of view, have we reached the point where a computer is just a computer; an appliance, like a toaster, where they may look different and you may choose one look over another, but actually they just do the same basic thing?

    • For current x86 we may have hit a plateau of sorts yes, but there are still potentially game changing things off in the distance. If HP or someone else ever brings The Machine (memristors) to life that will be revolutionary, as well as quantum computing potentially holds a lot of promise. But both of those are a ways off in practical terms.

  • This absolutely seems to be a Microsoft-Intel marketing position making, after people were annoyed at their monopolistic move announced a few days ago. Mic cannot sell their new OS's if gamers don't have to so they need to make them or others need to. We really don't care unless Intel and AMD takes Microsoft position and don't let other OS's access the new features. And since there is even more money on the other side (Apple>>Microsoft), I dont believe it can happen even if they originally intend to.
  • Why Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen Will Only Be Optimized On Windows 10

    Do you mean "only Windows 10 and not any other Windows version" or do you mean "only on Windows 10 and no other OS"?

    In any case, the wording is a bit weird. One doesn't optimise a processor. Better would be:

    Only Windows 10 will be optimized for Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Zen

  • Intel and AMD can greatly improve their sales numbers when they offer support on older Windows. And even if not, "not optimized" does not mean Win7/8 do not run on these processors.
    • Sounds like support for the new features requires changes to the kernel, and only MS can make those changes. From the article, it looks like the Intel Turbo features can be worked in with a driver and some management software, but AMD's changes are much deeper.
  • the same shit was said with skylake and the linux support was quickly added.
  • a few here were proudly boasting that their existing microsoft wares were future proof, they could always just run their older OS and MS Office products

    nope. future hardware won't support them.

    oh but virtualization you say. That assumes a LOT of things, including what virtualized devices are presented to your guest's OS, and whether Microsoft will allow activation/subscription on your virtualized platform

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.