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Rumor: Windows 8 Will Be 128-Bit

Microsoft's next operating system in development, Windows 8, might be designed to run on 128-bit hardware, according to accounts cobbled together by blog sleuths.

Microsoft has released little to no information about Windows 8. What is known derives from descriptions in Microsoft's job listings, with the Microsoft Kitchen Web site leading the charge in tracking them down. The latest rumor purportedly comes from a posting on LinkedIn, a social networking Web site.

Supposedly, a Microsoft employee named Robert Morgan spilled the beans about Windows 8 in a LinkedIn entry that has since been removed. The entry describes Morgan's job title as "Senior Research & Development at Microsoft." A cached version of the LinkedIn entry describes Morgan as working on 128-bit architecture for Windows 8 and 9:

"Research & Development projects including 128bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan. Forming relationships with major partners: Intel, AMD, HP and IBM."

Morgan purportedly made reference to "IA-128," according to the Windows 8 News Web site. Possibly, IA-128 refers to a 128-bit Intel Itanium architecture -- something not described by Intel's literature. Other observers flatly say that IA-128 just doesn't exist.

On Tuesday, the Windows 8 News site claimed it will obtain an "exclusive interview with Robert Morgan." The announcement included an invitation for readers to submit their questions, which can be posted here.

All of this is pure speculation so far, although it is true that Microsoft is working on Windows 8. For its part, Microsoft remained mum on whether it is working on a 128-bit version of Windows 8.

"We have nothing to share about Windows 8 at this point as we are super focused on delivering Windows 7 and sharing the value it offers to our customers," a Microsoft spokesperson explained by e-mail.

Microsoft plans to release Windows 7 to the public on Oct. 22. Windows 7 will support both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware.

Microsoft also would not confirm whether someone named Robert Morgan is working on the Windows 8 project, although there apparently is a Microsoft partner who goes by that name. He provides help as an expert at a Microsoft Dynamics Web page.

If Microsoft follows its general three-year release pattern for operating systems (a pattern that has been broken in the past), Windows 8 might be expected to appear in late 2012. However, no such release schedule for Windows 8 has yet been publicized.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Oct 15, 2009

Microsoft is full of crap!! They talk about 128-bit computing and they did not made decent 64-bit OS. Task which Sun, HP, DEC, IBM, SGI and others accomplished years ago with their operating systems. I hope M$ get bullied by European Commission until M$ go bankrupt.

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 xwindowsjunkie

The primary issue addressed (;-) by 128 or 256 bit processors is how much can be done in one CPU instruction. More bits should make CPU's more powerful at lower clock speeds. Having said that, the assumption is that the compiler being used is able to optimize the code it generates to fully take advantage of the register set of the CPU to best advantage.

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 Clint Huffman

I’m sure Microsoft is planning 128-bit at some degree, but it will be a *long* time before anyone would even consider that much address space.

32-bit is 4GBs in size. 64-bit is 18 Exabytes! 1 Exabyte is 1 billion Gigabytes, so 18 Exabytes is 17.2 billion Gigabytes after you divide it by 1024 each time! I personally don’t know of any enterprise customers coming anywhere close to that kind of memory usage, so I can’t imagine going to 128-bit already.

Today most 64-bit computers are using Microsoft’s implementation of x64, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft’s implementation of x64 is able to address 16 Terabytes address space compared to the 18 Exabytes in true 64-bit which is less than 1% of true 64-bit. Microsoft’s implementation of x64 allows each process to address its own 8 Terabytes of virtual address space. Once we start filling that up, then I’m sure true 64-bit systems or a new implementation of it will be out allowing each process to address its own 8 Exabytes (8EB for the kernel and 8 EB for each process) of virtual address space. We don’t even have hard drives that can get to 1 Petabyte let alone Exabytes, so this is why I would be surprised if 128-bit is really being considered so soon.

128-bit is 3.4e+38 which is 3.4 with 38 zeroes behind it. Calculator had to make it scientific notation because it couldn’t fit the number in its display. Heck, I don’t even know what number that would be. ;-) For reference, it goes kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes, yottabytes. 1 Yottabyte has 25 zeroes in it, so 128-bit will be some number far larger than a Yottabyte, so we would have to start measuring things using a larger standard such as how NASA uses the light year versus miles or meters to measure the universe.

Wikipedia has a good article on x64 at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86-64

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 IntegrationArchitect

1971 - 4 bit 4004
1972 - 8 bit 8008
1978 - 16 bit 8086
1985 - 32 bit 80386
2003 - 64 bit Athlon 64
2006 – Announcements on 128 Bit CPU from AMD
2007 – 512 bit graphics cards
2012 – Intel Haswell Chipset

List prices for 512 Bit Graphics cards are already dropping since they came out a while ago.

MAC OS may be getting there first and many talk about the "2010 wall" how the CPU die shrinking below 16 nm is the practical limit. So they must improve other areas for performance and the graphic controllers (like Intel Larrabee 256 bit graphics chip) will be built inside the CPU. It will have to be after Intel Haswell (microarchitecture) or the I8/i9 chips that need several gigs of memory as minimum requirements. The CPU's offer fused multiply-add instructions like what the 512 bit graphics cards already do now.

256 Bit Software Link at Intel
http://software.intel.com/en-us/avx/

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