Win8 performance monitoring tweaked for multi-core systems

Microsoft has made much of the fact that Windows 8 is tailored for tablets. The new Metro interface is definitely designed with capacitive touchscreens in mind, and the under-the-hood optimizations seem targeted at making the OS more responsive on the low-power hardware typically found in slates. Redmond still has plenty of love for more powerful PCs, though, as evidenced by tweaks to the Windows 8 Task Manager.

We’ve already seen how the Task Manager has been massaged to make errant processes easier to identify and kill. Now, the Building Windows 8 blog has revealed changes to the performance tab designed to improve its usability in systems with multiple logical processors. Microsoft uses the example of a 64-core system, which fills the traditional Task Manager with a bunch of tiny CPU usage graphs that are difficult to read. In place of those graphs, the new Task Manager uses a color-coded “heat map” to characterize the utilization of logical processors.

Of course, line graphs haven’t been completely removed from the performance tab. A column of simplified graphs tracks overall CPU utilization in addition to memory, disk, and networking usage. More detailed monitoring should also be available through the Resource Monitor, which is still linked at the bottom of the performance tab.

I’m rather attached to the real-time CPU utilization graphs of the old Task Manager, so I’m not sure how I feel about the new heat map. For systems with loads of logical processors, it’s undoubtedly a better design. However, I can’t help but wonder if the heat map is too oversimplified for the average PC, which typically has between two and eight logical processors.

Comments closed
    • khands
    • 11 years ago

    I imagine if you have a lot of very segregated VMs it may be.

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    I imagine he has a dedicated IT guy that upgrades him to latest and greatest and constantly monitors for issues.

    A guy like Gates or Balmer’s time is so important it really probably does pay off to have the best of the best at all times.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 11 years ago

    How about this handy Sidebar gadget?
    [url<]http://addgadget.com/all_cpu_meter/[/url<]

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    Is that information actually useful?

    • jstern
    • 11 years ago

    For some reason this story made me wonder what are the specs for Bill Gates’ computers. Probably tame, but what kind of system the average joe here would have if they were Bill Gates rich.

    • Farting Bob
    • 11 years ago

    I would be surprised if you couldnt view graphs or heat map. Certainly for anybody lucky enough to have 160 cores a heatmap would be rocking because you wouldnt be able to clearly show all 160 cores activity on tiny graphs. But for the real world where you are unlikely to go above 8 cores (maybe 16 in a few years) it would probably be better to just have graphs as the default option.

    • squeeb
    • 11 years ago

    lol

    • tu2thepoo
    • 11 years ago

    seemed pretty obvious to me that shank15217 meant “hotspots” in terms of workload, not actual heat…

    • Bensam123
    • 11 years ago

    Yeah, I agree about the graphs. Some of the tweaks are pretty cool they’re doing, I don’t really understand this one. With a graph it’s easy to see if a processor is at 100% and what it was doing before that… It’s visual in it’s own way.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    It’s not an actual heatmap, it’s just using color to signify load.

    Unless Windows knows the actual physical arrangement of the cores, I’m not sure it could show hotspots. Even then it would be iffy.

    • shank15217
    • 11 years ago

    Seriously, how useful would graphs be for 160 CPUs? Heat map is a much better visualization because it can also show hotspots.

    • Fieryphoenix
    • 11 years ago

    640 cores are enough for anyone.

    • Kent_dieGo
    • 11 years ago

    When we start to bump up against the 640 core limit?

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    🙂

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    You’re wrong.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Wow, subjective opinions are subjective!

    • paultherope
    • 11 years ago

    Microsoft are running Windows 8 on an 8 socket machine with E7-2870 processors (10 core, 20 thread), so 8 x 20 = 160

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    No it doesn’t, and I really doubt that’s final anyway.

    • Wirko
    • 11 years ago

    Sure. An obvious idea would be to have each rectangle filled with a small graph. Heat-mapped, of course – with different colors for different y axis values.

    • ChronoReverse
    • 11 years ago

    With the heat view I think it could condense both the average usage over a period of time together with the current usage.

    The % number could show the current usage while the colour intensity would be the average. At least that’s one way it could be implemented.

    This would give a large portion of the important information from the line graph in a much smaller area.

    • PixelArmy
    • 11 years ago

    Nitpick: The screenshot shows a 16 x 10 grid and says 160 logical processors (looks like 8 x 20 cores). The link says 64[b<]+[/b<]. Anyways, a graph is more useful, but personally, the majority of the time I'm only concerned with the [i<]current[/i<] usage.

    • The Dark One
    • 11 years ago

    I have no problems with MS going nuts with new ideas for the Task Manager. If it doesn’t end up being usable, I’ll just keep on using Process Explorer. If they come across some really great way of getting all that information across in a simple interface, then even better.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 11 years ago

    Is that the Mayan calender?

    • esterhasz
    • 11 years ago

    The flat and minimalist window styling looks really good.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    The L3 cache would fit what’s in my RAM at idle. No need for memristors!

    • CampinCarl
    • 11 years ago

    I can’t see why they don’t just switch between the two types–either manually (i.e. a setting) or have it be set to automatically switch to the ‘heat map’ when the individual graph width drops below a certain threshold % of the screen. There’s a lot of ways you could get the best of both worlds.

    • phez
    • 11 years ago

    *head explodes*

    • dpaus
    • 11 years ago

    Well, what’s the point of my dual 30″ displays if I can’t use them to monitor all 64 cores of my next-gen CPU?!?

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