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Intel CPU drivers - why aren't there any?


grpprod
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Hi all,

I use Windows XP x64, but it seems to me this topic might be of interest to other versions of the OS (perhaps except Vista).

I was always wondering why there aren't any Intel CPU drivers available. I really cannot understand, for example, how a 6-year-old OS as Windows XP x32 can fully utilize the power of an Intel Core 2 Quad without any drivers, since almost all current processors did not exist at the time the OS became available. Not to mention the case where someone wants to install Windows 2000. Or consider the scenario where someone bought such a hardware and wishes to install a Server OS like Windows 2000 Adv. Server or Windows 2003 Server. Full utilization of the multiple cores and other features is trivial.

Of course they recognize the multiple cores (or P4s with HT) but is this enough? How about all the other new technologies and power consumption features? Is SpeedStep the same as it was 6 years ago? How about virtualization features?

AMD seems to have drivers available. At least for power issues like Cool 'n' Quiet.

I will never be sure that my CPU (Core 2 Quad - Q6600) performs the best it can if I won't have a specific driver for it.

Any comments?

Edited by grpprod
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The difference is that SpeedStep is handled by the motherboard drivers, while C'N'Q is handled by AMD's CPU drivers. Neither existed 6 years ago, AFAIK, but support for this type of feature was present in XP, since there were "mobile" CPUs that had similar features. The underlying infrastructure is there, and the drivers do the rest.

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Honestly a lot of the stuff was already in the planning stages when Windows XP was being developed. Dual core processors were already being worked on...but no one was really talking about it. That's who Windows XP recognizes the cores correctly. Also remember that they were even closer to a reality when Service Pack 2 was being worked on so I'm sure a lot of the support was added with SP2. Windows XP x64 is based on the Server 2003 x64 code base...and dual cores were definitely a reality by that time.

Windows 2000 does not properly recognize dual/quad core CPUs. Nor does it even properly recognize hyperthreaded CPUs. You can run Windows 2000 on multi-core CPUs, but it's not optimized for it. And if you run 2000 Pro on a quad-core CPU, it'll only recognize/use the first two cores. It also requires an additional applet for SpeedStep.

A lot of the power saving techniques being used by both Intel and AMD are done in hardware. This means the OS doesn't have to interact with the CPU to make it work. SpeedStep on Intel CPUs is also hardware driven...but Windows XP understands it as well (and you can disable it with the right power settings). SpeedStep has been around for quite some time (since the first mobile PIII's) so it stands to reason that XP understands it. AMD's C'N'Q wasn't out until after XP was released. It works different than SpeedStep so it requires a driver/application to make it work properly. Vista may have native support...I don't know because 1) I'm not running Vista and 2) I don't do AMD CPUs.

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