Microsoft employee hints at 128-bit support in Windows 8

By on October 8, 2009, 1:45 PM
Even though 64-bit processors and operating systems have been out for quite a while, and most of the initial driver compatibility issues have already been sorted out, many are still on the fence whether to make the switch. Microsoft has previously mentioned they expect a majority of Windows 7 installations to be 64-bit, while Apple has been pushing hard towards a transition with its latest "Snow Leopard" Mac OS X release.

When it comes to software, however, 32-bit is still hanging on strongly. Thus you may find it a bit surprising to hear Microsoft is already planning to incorporate 128-bit compatibility with its future Windows 8 and Windows 9 kernels. The news came into the limelight after Robert Morgan, a Microsoft Research employee, posted some intriguing details on his LinkedIn profile. There he also claims to be forming relationships with major industry players, including Intel, AMD, HP, and IBM, to work on the project.

Many are expecting Windows 7 to be the last 32 and 64-bit operating system from Microsoft. While this certainly doesn't mean Windows 8 will come in 64-bit and 128-bit flavors -- and to be honest it sounds unlikely being just three or four years down the road -- at the very least it appears Microsoft is being proactive and getting ready for the eventual shift, whenever that might be.




User Comments: 16

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Route44 Route44, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I've been waiting for some time now when the 128-bit hints/possibilities would be verbalized.

poundsmack said:

think again.

NTFS will turn into a 128 bit file system, windows will not (for many many years) turn into a 128 bit OS. The file system makes sense as others like ZFS are currently 128 bit.

64 bit is more than sufficient. at 64 bit you can utalize up to 16 exbibytes of memory. 128 bit would be able to use 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 bytes. needless to say there is no logical reason to do it.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

think again.

NTFS will turn into a 128 bit file system, windows will not (for many many years) turn into a 128 bit OS. The file system makes sense as others like ZFS are currently 128 bit.

64 bit is more than sufficient. at 64 bit you can utalize up to 16 exbibytes of memory. 128 bit would be able to use 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 bytes. needless to say there is no logical reason to do it.

Yes, there is a reason. The RAM limit is not why you would upgrade. There would be performance gains from upgrading.

poundsmack said:

"Yes, there is a reason. The RAM limit is not why you would upgrade. There would be performance gains from upgrading."

please give an example of said performance gains. theoretical gains, sure; but real world gains, well it would likely be the exact oposite. keep inmind how many hurdels software adoption has faced with all past bit jumps, 8 to 16, 16 to 32, and 32 to 64. each time there was at least a year or so of people compaining that they new system wasn't as fast as it's predicessor. each time coders had to adapt to new changes and new ways of doing things that created a learning curve that needed to be overcome.

think about our multi core 64 bit systems of today, how long has it taken for software to be optemized for multi core (and 64 bit) computing? here is a hint: after 3+ years were still only just getting there. OS's like windows 7 and OSX 10.6 are only recently taking advantage of this in a way that has equated into a real preformance gain (i am leaving out Solaris and Linux for various reasons, but solaris and linux have made better use so far).

anyways, 128 bit would not benefit anyone in a real effective way. If it would we would have done it some time ago, and if i recall correctly 1999 was the year that some research company (forgetting the name) creauted the first 128 bit CPU, and that was it. nothing was really done with it (nothing that made it into the consumer market anyways). the major CPU companies aren't even interested, it's not on any of their roadmaps.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

please give an example of said performance gains. theoretical gains, sure; but real world gains, well it would likely be the exact oposite

I don't know why you would say that a 128 bit system would slow things down?? you are right about "theoretical gains" being double, however a 64 bit yields a 10-15% performance gain in intensive applications over a 32 bit system. if you just cruise the net you will see no gains at all, however if you do use things like CAD, and modeling/rendering programs, a 128 bit system will access twice the data per clock that a 64 bit system does.I understand what you are saying about slow adoption rate, but that aside a 128 bit system would have performance gains over a 64 bit. also windows 8 is most likely 3 years out, and a lot is going to change between now and then.

poundsmack said:

i agree whole heartedly that if utilized it would be a huge improvement, but as a developer myself I have seen how low the industry has been to adapt to the changes in tech. CAD is a good example of an industry that could really benefit from such an improvement in the CPU, but this is also an industry that could have used GPU offloading for a long time now and hasn't utilized the tech that would have improved its overall function and number crunching.

So you are right that it is an obvious improvement in spec. my only concern is industry adaptation being so slow that even to introduce it within the next 6 years it would be "to soon." Once we have tapped out our improvements in RAM, GPU tech, multi core tech, and efficient coding, then 128 bit CPU's make sense.

Improvement in spec, indeed. Improvement to the industry, anyone's guess really.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is funny, heres a conversation where a real developer and understandee is talking with typical true end users. My knowledge on this subject comes from a computer systems engineer, development team leader and such of 25yrs (my father). 64 Bit opens up a new means for the processor to compute much larger numbers with one clock cycle. 32 Bit binary already gives us a very large overhead of numbers. 64 Bit is getting into really, really big numbers that are mostly unused because our processors dont deal with numbers that big. If developers and programmers can (creatively) utilize the possibility of working with larger numbers in one clock cycle, rather than it taking multiple, an advantage would show. The numbers that can be computed in a 64 Bit structure are so large my guess is they're hard to come up with and be put to use. There's a tiny fraction of my change.

Guest said:

I think this is some joke. First of all Windows 7 is not yet out, second OMG already windows 8! And come onn 128bit LOL! 128 bit support many many ram, useless, in future maybe but 64bit should be considered as standard in in Windows 8.

Guest said:

OMG, cant wait for 128bits Word, 128bits IE, 128bits Paint and 128bits Notepad versions......he he he!

MikeFE said:

We'll have to wait and see. I just think Micro$oft wants to avoid making the classic (Bill Gates) mistake: "64 bit [original quote: 640kB memory] should be enough for everybody".

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

There is no logical reason to go to a 128-bit address space

With our current 64-bit address space we can address 16 exabytes of RAM, or if you rater want it in bigger base numbers;

17.2 billion gigabytes

16.8 million terabytes

Does anyone seriously think we will ever reach this ceiling?

And before anyone mentions Bill Gates and the 640kb again, put this in perspective; (from wikipedia)

"In the days when 4 MB of main memory was commonplace, the maximum memory ceiling of 2^32 addresses was about 1,000 times larger than typical memory configurations. Today, when over 2 GB of main memory is common, the ceiling of 2^64 addresses is about ten trillion times larger"

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Forrest Hell, I Didn't Even See the Trees....!

This is from someone who has a rudimentary understanding of what's going on at the technical level, but understands ad lingo very well.

First, it's a natural marketing progression to continually increase the bit access number, and then use propaganda to generate the perceived need.

So, one argument would be that,"128 bit computing would be faster". This doesn't hold up the the light of current CPU architecture. Here, multiple core designs have increased the data manipulation rate exponentially, by parallel processing of data, and greater amount of function per clock cycle. Who's to say if those modifications have reaped all the rewards they can.

Wow, now that we have 128 BACs, let's hurry up and develop the 256 BAC!

With respect to the CAD proponent sector of this discussion; after something is designed, it has to be built and paid for, (or vice versa). A 128 (or 256) bit OS won't help with those aspects of the process. So, let's get cracking with those 256'ers, and all you engineers can hasten you compute to the unemployment line. "Whaddya mean the works all done". Of course there's always the possibility of being retrained to design 512 BA computers, but obviously the pay would be lower at the start.

In the real world there are applications for extremely fast computers that will manipulate very, very large numbers. For example, as of 5 years ago, our fastest machines weren't able to come close to modeling the events during the collapse and subsequent explosion of a dying star. As is always the case, there is a certain period of time before technology trickles down from applications in space, but I have no doubt that Madison Avenue will be able to show us how a 256 bit processor will be able to much better control our microwaves and programmable coffee makers. As the technology trickles down even further, the average welfare mother will be able to track the events within a supernova...! And really, don't they all sit around waiting for that opportunity...?

Another huge improvement reaped from from higher bit access computers will be in law enforcement, for verily we will be able to track a scofflaw with an unpaid parking ticket to the far ends of the galaxy.

But the impact of higher bit access will be most utilized and appreciated in the field of computer gaming. There you will be able to tune out the world more successfully than in any other time in human history. Great kings and even greater pharaohs weren't able to remain aloof from their duties and surroundings as will be the video gamer of tomorrow!

Gone forever will be concerns about global warming, food and water shortages, war, famine, pestilence and disease! All these things will lose their relevance in comparison to playing "WOW 13" on your 512 bit XBox! If the ad men are smart, (and you know they are because they've studied psychology), they will package this modern day miracle in a box shaped and decorated to look like a human a**. That way, when you're done playing games for the day, you can put your head up that and catch a nap..!

Zeromus said:

Why don't they incorporate a sort of injection into the already successfully but deadly unfit x86-64 ISA to support 128-bit GPRs in native code whilst keeping the UNNECESSARY 128-bit addressing out of line. Of course I may be speaking out of line in the next several centuries, that is if logical computing through binary architecture still is preferred, but now seems a bit excessive. Even though it's nice you already have extensions of DWORD registers to reach QWORD usability through common means of eliminating the usage of a few instructions such as INC and DEC to accommodate the signaling needed to read such widthed registers, let's say make a quick and rational action by taking some reserved bit fields during the time protected mode of 64-bit/Long mode takes precedence and reinvent the entire architecture to keep the data width of 128-bit memory registers and memory addressing whilst keeping pointer sizes consistence with 64. And maybe even this new mode could even incorporate real mode ALONG with compatibility mode and the mandatory 64 bit mode that would be cleverly named along the lines of "64 bit compatibility mode"; this would definitely build the most versatile operating system and perhaps open the gap to emulating such systems such as the ps2 with absolutely no drag in performance compared to using a 32-bit system. It's ironic because the large multimedia XMM registers that also happen to be 128-bit would closely lie together in terms of a 128-bit solution despite the fact XMM registers are purposed for SIMD rather than general purpose processing.

thomasxstewart said:

Thats Unlikely, first iA64 is "true" 40 Bit String with 8 extra bits in transmission stage. so only 48 bits. Maybe "true" 64 bit with say 72 0r 80 spaces, to make it dijestable. Shurly NOT 128 Bit String Length, although there probably are such examples, in Hardware world, that would be such change, it'd be Revolutionary & 4x Paradigm, too many At Once.

drashek

tengeta tengeta said:

64 bit never honestly caught on, screw it lets move on.

Guest said:

the memory address space is actually only 40bits.

the CPU itself can already manage 128bit instructions through the use of SSSE3 and SSE4

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