Microsoft’s secret E2 CPUs will blow up the processor market


The problem solved by Microsoft has long been known in the computer industry: not only clock speeds, but also other performance values ​​of commercially available processors have not changed for many years. Experts warn that the moment is approaching when we experience the effect of Moore’s law. This means that even smaller semiconductor structures will be much more difficult to build.

At the same time, development costs are increasing, therefore, for example, new processors are not profitable in the production of desktop computers. The development of multi-core processor technology over the past two decades should break stagnation. But at the same time, relevant architectures also run into the framework of economic efficiency. At the same time, software requirements are growing at a cosmic speed: if artificial intelligence is soon implemented in smartphones, home robots or autonomous vehicles, this will require correspondingly high computing power, which is not yet available.

Quite heavy-handed leader of the processor market – the company the Intel – already for a long time can not let nothing new after x86. But Microsoft, apparently, on the contrary, saw a chance here to turn the market around, creating its own chip architecture.

New command system architecture
for multicore machines
In the summer, Microsoft talked about a secret EDGE project to a small group of selected Silicon Valley representatives. Microsoft researchers Doug Burger and Aaron Smith, along with Qualcomm chief engineering officer Greg Wright, shared information on the current status and backstage of the project: in close collaboration with Microsoft and Qualcomm E2, a new chip family is being developed based on the Super-RISC EDGE architecture. The abbreviation EDGE stands for “Explicit Data Graph Execution,” an explicit execution of data diagrams. By data diagrams, Microsoft refers to structured collections of data objects. hUWAI

It is the structuring that is the secret of EDGE : it allows you to parallelize computer code at the hardware level as needed , and thus interrupt the stagnation of performance of the multi-core principle.

Unlike conventional CPUs, E2 breaks executable code into simple instructions that can be processed in parallel, independently of each other. If necessary, the E2 processor can combine its physical cores into logical units to easily handle various workloads. In fact, we are talking about maximizing Intel hyper flow .



With the advent of Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel has tried to make better use of multi-core processors. Each physical core of the central processor can be divided into two virtual cores , allowing you to simultaneously work with two logical threads.

Unlike E2, Intel technology cannot change the number of virtual processors during the execution of tasks . Hyper-Threading only implements virtual cores, while E2 / EDGE virtualizes entire processors , each of which could potentially include several cores. Intel technology not only requires support from the operating system and BIOS, but also needs software that is programmed for virtual multithreading for optimal performance.

Microsoft EDGE does not require code optimization on a multi-core processor

Instead, the compiler should automatically determine the multithreading potential and use special directives to distribute the flow of data objects across several cores during operation.


E2 prototypes for EDGE perform well in practice

Microsoft released its first E2 prototypes as FPGAs from Qualcomm and Xilinx. FPGA, or Field Programmable Gate Array, translates as a programmable logic integrated circuit. This is such a CPU usage pattern, the operation of which can later be changed using the appropriate commands.


The first two Qualcomm prototypes were manufactured using state-of-the-art 10-nanometer semiconductor technology and are codenamed R0 and R1. The larger of these two R1 cores should be synchronized with a frequency of 2 GHz. In addition, Microsoft said it has developed a processor cycle simulator for E2. It can boot either Windows or Linux and run some applications – the first step towards a redesigned processor architecture, with no problems with x86.

Microsoft has already ported Windows and Linux

The success of the new E2 / EDGE architecture is difficult to predict. It depends on whether the new technology will be accepted in the developer community. Microsoft acts in this regard very thoughtfully. With the acquisition of GitHub, the leading cloud-based code versioning platform in June 2018, software giant Redmond has already earned respect in these influential circles.

If we talk about E2, then, as they say, a lot of work has been done behind closed doors to make the new platform attractive to developers. They say that Microsoft has ported not only its own system to the new architecture but also some variants of Linux, including the built-in distribution BusyBox and FreeRTOS, the leading real-time operating system of the Open source community.

The existing collection of E2 development tools is impressive. According to insider reports, in addition to the regular C / C ++ and .NET-Core libraries, it should include a Windows kernel debugger, various command-line tools for Visual C ++, and a Just-in-Time-Compiler for .NET called RyuJIT. How serious Microsoft is about business shows that the company has also ported the open-source LLVM development environment and related libraries. LLVM is the foundation for developing mobile apps for iOS and macOS from Apple, as well as PS4 programs.