Dave Probert says basic architecture needs rethink
While chip makers try to stack more cores on top of each other, a top kernel architect thinks they need to rethink the basic architecture of today's operating systems.
Dave Probert, a kernel architect within the Windows core operating systems division at Microsoft said that the current approach to harnessing the power of multicore processors is complicated and not entirely successful. Instead of chucking more cash into refining techniques such as parallel programming, there needs to be more thought into the basic abstractions that make up current OS's.
Probert told the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Universal Parallel Computing Research Centre that many of the other architects on the Windows kernel development team don't even agree with his views. He set out to find out what a new operating system, if designed from scratch, would look like today. He concluded it would be quite different from Windows or Unix.
One of the problems with modern operating systems is that they have to do several things at once and it is hard to tell what is important. As multiple processor cores were added, chip makers built them and prayed that software developers would come up with some good ideas. However today's desktop programs don't use the multiple cores efficiently enough, Probert said. Developers need to use parallel programming techniques which is something they have not got the hang of yet, he said. He thought it was better to rethink the way operating systems handle these processors.
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