Microsoft wants OS redesign for multicore processors

A Microsoft kernel expert has proposed that developers “rethink” the basic architecture of current operating systems to fully exploit the benefits of multicore chips.

According to Dave Probert, the typical approach to leveraging the power of multicore processors is “complicated” and not entirely successful.

“The key may not be in throwing more energy into refining techniques such as parallel programming, but rather rethinking the basic abstractions that make up the operating systems model,” Probert explained in a Urbana-Champaign Parallel Computing keynote quoted by Network World.

“Today’s computers don’t get enough performance out of their multicore chips. Why should you ever, with all this parallel hardware, ever be waiting for your computer? Responsiveness really is king. This is what people want.”

Probert added that a new multi-core based operating system, if designed from the ground up, would look “quite different” from Windows or Unix.

Indeed, Probert envisions an OS that would function more like a hypervisor, by acting as a layer between the virtual machine and actual hardware.

“With many-core, CPUs [could] become CPUs again. If we get enough of them, maybe we can start to hand them out to individual programs,” he added.