Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Sep 2010 13:00 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems So, we have Intel and AMD. These guys are doing pretty well in laptops, servers, and of course desktops, but when it comes to mobile devices, they've so far been unable to adapt the x86 architecture to the stricter requirements that come with those devices. ARM, on the other hand, pretty much owns this market at this point. And you know what? It's time for Intel and AMD to get worried - really worried. ARM has just announced its Cortex-A15 MPCore chips - which will reach 2.5Ghz in quad-core configurations.
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RE[3]: Microsoft Windows + ARM?
by SReilly on Thu 9th Sep 2010 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Microsoft Windows + ARM?"
Member since:

I don't think that's really a solution, Thom. Running an x86 application in a virtualized environment already takes a performance hit even running on an x86 architecture. Emulating an x86 environment on a non x86 architecture involves vastly more overhead due to the amount of instruction translation that goes on. The performance hit would be huge, something we already see while using QEmu.

If MS want to compete with Linux and the BSDs on ARM, they would need all of their server software partners to port their apps to ARM, no doubt about it.

This is an area where FLOSS will really shine.

Reply Parent Score: 9

Ventajou Member since:

AFAIK that's exactly what the Alpha version of NT used to do, emulate x86 for all those non native apps. In fact they have something similar for old 16bits apps and for 32bit apps on 64bit systems (the WOW stuff).

That's also what Apple did when they transitioned from PPC to x86.

For MS it would be a way to wait while they push developers to use .Net to write portable apps.

They definitely have the expertise in house so it's just a matter of whether they're interested in helping ARM succeed.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Developers, like those that produce such popular apps as MS Office and internet Explorer?

Sounds good in theory, but I don't think Microsoft will ever convince Microsoft to re write those aps in the Microsoft .Net runtime or use standard Microsoft controls and interfaces.

Reply Parent Score: 5

SReilly Member since:

Although you've got some great points there, it wasn't MS that developed the 32bit x86 emulation layer for Alpha (called FX!32), that was Digital. I've yet to find a performance comparison of the apps that ran in this emulation layer but I have found some very positive remarks on NT's own performance on Alpha. I do know that much of NT's 64bit development was originally done on Alpha systems, due to Itanium not being available until much later than expected.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jabjoe Member since:

Different things here.
WOW is not emulation. The x86 chip is running those instructions as is. The WOW OS calls are wrappers to the true OS calls. So we can forget about this one as it's not relevant.

Apple's Rosetta is something quite different. The Alpha NT stuff was similar.

All of which is clever, but just not as good as having the source and compiling natively. And if Windows applications are all .NET it is only going to make the platform seam even fatter and slower then Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 2

DeepThought Member since:

That's also what Apple did when they transitioned from PPC to x86.

And when stepping from 68k to PPC !

Reply Parent Score: 1

bert64 Member since:

Apple also did the same when they transitioned from m68k to ppc...

However what these 3 examples have in common, is that the processor doing the emulation is considerably faster than the one being emulated, and incurs a significant overhead in doing it.

ARM on the other hand is designed for power efficiency, and while the newer chips may be performance competitive they certainly don't have a massive speed advantage over x86 like alpha did. Also the power efficiency is massively reduced if you have such a high level of overhead as emulation.

Reply Parent Score: 2