Microsoft rebuilt Windows 11 around AI and Arm chips

Windows’ arm problems may finally be over. As part of the company’s new Copilot+ AI PC initiative, which includes new Surfaces and partner systems powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips, Microsoft he says Rebuilt core components of Windows 11 to better support Arm-based hardware and AI. It includes a new kernel, compiler, and most importantly, an emulator called “Prism” to run legacy x86 and x64 programs.

You’d be forgiven for being a skeptic, though. since its launch Surface running Windows RT Back in 2012, Microsoft proved that it couldn’t be trusted to deliver a decent OS experience on the Arm. This device couldn’t run legacy x86 applications (who would want to Windows, right?) and was much slower than computers with Intel and AMD CPUs. Arm on Windows has slowly improved over the years and it has a working emulation on it Surface Pro 9 5G. But the slate still couldn’t keep up with its Intel-powered sibling, especially when it struggled to emulate popular apps like Chrome.

Microsoft has redesigned Windows 11 schedulers to take advantage of Arm capabilities and AI workloads. There’s also a new driver computing model that recognizes neural engines, similar to how Windows sees CPUs and GPUs, as well as AI APIs built right into the OS. Basically, Arm hardware should no longer feel like an afterthought, and developers should be able to use AI capabilities more easily.

“So we’re effectively building binaries and windows that are optimized for specific workloads,” Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft’s head of Windows and Devices, said in a briefing with reporters earlier this month. “The benefit of this for us is that there are some things that we know customers with Copilot+ PCs will do consistently, and we can really focus on optimizing for those scenarios and making a meaningful improvement in machine responsiveness.”

Thanks to the powerful new Neural Processing Unit (NPU) in Snapdragon X Elite chips, Copilot+ computers can perform more than 40 trillion operations per second, which is an indication of the chip’s AI performance, which is four times the performance offered by modern AI computers. Microsoft claims this is twice the performance offered by Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

While Microsoft is pushing the availability of more native Arm apps for Windows 11, it’s hard to deny the importance of supporting legacy software. This is where the Prism emulator comes into play. Microsoft claims that it has improved the number of applications it supports and is about 20 percent faster than its previous emulator. Any x86 and x64 applications running under emulation with Snapdragon X Elite Arm processors are more than twice as fast as previous generations of Windows running on Arm, Microsoft. he said in a blog post.

“When you combine the new Prism emulator with just the raw performance and the improvement in the CPUs themselves, we’re in a place where we have great native apps, and we’re also in a place where the breadth of the app catalog has great performance. It’s comparable to the rest of the Windows estate today,” Davuluri said.

The NPU also allows Microsoft to add AI-powered software features to Windows, e.g Remember, a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to capture almost everything you see on your computer, something Microsoft compares to giving your computer photographic memory. Another feature called Live Subtitles offers instant and real-time translations from 44 languages ​​to English on any video or audio playing on your computer.

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