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HP, Asus announce first Windows 10 ARM PCs
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-05 20:19:56

HP and Asus have announced the first Windows 10 PCs running on ARM - Snapdragon 835 - and they're boasting about instant-on, 22 hour battery life, and gigabit LTE. These machines run full Windows 10 - so not some crippled Windows RT nonsense - and support 32bit x86 applications. Microsoft hasn't unveiled a whole lot just yet about their x86-on-ARM emulation, but Ars did compile some information:

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries - the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system feature - are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them "Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables" (or "chippie" for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.

While processor-intensive applications are liable to suffer a significant performance hit from this emulation - Photoshop will work in the emulator, but it won't be very fast - applications that spend a substantial amount of time waiting around for the user - such as Word - should perform with adequate performance. As one might expect, this emulation isn't available in the kernel, so x86 device drivers won't work on these systems. It's also exclusively 32-bit; software that's available only in a 64-bit x86 version won't be compatible.

I'm very curious about the eventual performance figures for this emulation, since the idea of running my garbage Win32 translation management software on a fast, energy-efficient laptop and external monitor seem quite appealing to me.

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RE[3]: Is it crippled?
By bhtooefr on 2017-12-06 10:48:52
As far as I can tell, RT was never meant to be a product (sure, it was pitched as one), it was meant to be a threat - basically, Microsoft saying that they could make a fully-functional ARM Windows device if they wanted to, and here's the proof, that consumers can buy today.

Intel responded to the threat with Bay Trail and Cherry Trail, but Willow Trail was cancelled, so Microsoft then had to make good on their threat.
Permalink - Score: 4
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Virtualize it!
By mack on 2017-12-06 10:55:54
Now we just need the VirtualBox people to get their behind in gear and add ARM support...
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[3]: Comment by smashIt
By moondevil on 2017-12-06 12:03:21
ART, introduced in Android 5 as Dalvik replacement, does cache native code in disk.

Between Android 5 and 7, ART does AOT compilation to native code at installation time.

Starting with Android 7, ART is a mix of assembly interpreter, JIT and AOT compiler, making use of PGO, with native code cached between builds.

https://source.android.com/device...
Permalink - Score: 4
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Amazing!
By ebasconp on 2017-12-06 13:49:24
Since Windows libraries are already natively running in ARM, a lot of existing code could be just "recompiled" to run natively in these machines (imagine a lot of open source software available for Windows).
Permalink - Score: 2
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Garbage in, garbage out.
By The123king on 2017-12-06 14:19:56
If your software runs crap on a real x86, why would emulation make it run faster? That's like saying "my blender is too slow, let my chop these vegetables by hand..."
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: Garbage in, garbage out.
By Alfman on 2017-12-06 15:00:16
The123king,

> If your software runs crap on a real x86, why would emulation make it run faster? That's like saying "my blender is too slow, let my chop these vegetables by hand..."

Who/what are you referring to here. Is it this?

> The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation).

If so, they don't mean faster than the original, they meant faster than the first time it's run because the JIT code is being compiled.


In practice I've benchmarked QEMU's software emulation to be about 15-20% as fast as on bare metal. Hardware VT acceleration was able to achieve 100% in the same test. In theory poorly optimized code on x86 could end up being faster if the emulator has a sufficiently powerful code optimizer. We may get there with advanced AI techniques, but it's not possible now.
Permalink - Score: 4
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RE: Is it crippled?
By tidux on 2017-12-06 17:24:04
That's my concern as well. If these come with unlocked bootloaders, I'll absolutely buy one and put Linux on it.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Comment by smashIt
By AntonioTrindade on 2017-12-06 17:36:21
I was thinking just the same.
I tried FX!32 back in the day and ran WinZIP on a DEC Alpha running Windows NT 3.51. It really worked great.
Permalink - Score: 2
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Just like Apple's Rosetta
By AntonioTrindade on 2017-12-06 17:38:32
It's not unlike Apple's Rosetta, which did quite a very good job emulating PowerPC code on an Intel Mac.
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RE: Just like Apple's Rosetta
By darknexus on 2017-12-06 17:53:27
> It's not unlike Apple's Rosetta, which did quite a very good job emulating PowerPC code on an Intel Mac.
It did indeed do a good job, but the performance impact was definitely obvious even so. I'm curious to get my hands on one of these, though I don't really like Windows 10 enough to want to buy one.
Permalink - Score: 2

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