Microsoft’s Windows version 1909 update, codenamed ‘H219’, is set to begin rolling out this week. It’s a big one, and it happens to include a pretty exciting new feature which could aid gaming performance.
As of the Windows 10 2H19 update, W10 will have an awareness of the ‘favoured cores’ on your processor. This is achieved through a communication line between the operating system and the CPU, identifying which of a processor’s cores are marginally faster than the others. More single-threaded workloads will then be shifted onto these faster cores, in theory speeding up performance.
The entire concept stems from the simple fact that not all cores on a CPU are equal. Due to manufacturing variations, some are faster, and some are slower. We’ve seen this to prominent effect with AMD’s 3rd Gen Ryzen processors, with all sorts of discussions over individual core speeds. The result of this is that same cores may be capable of running at a marginally higher frequency than others.
Microsoft has confirmed that multiple cores may be tagged as favoured and workloads will then be spread evenly across these cores. “A CPU may have multiple “favored” cores (logical processors of the highest available scheduling class),” explains Microsoft. “To provide better performance and reliability, we have implemented a rotation policy. This policy distributes work more fairly among these favored cores.”
At the moment it would appear this feature is going to be exclusive to AMD Ryzen processors, along with Intel CPUs which support Turbo Boost Max 3.0. All of these processors have the ability to communicate with the OS to specify which are the faster cores.
Once Windows 10 has been given this information, these cores are then designated ‘favoured cores’. The most intensive workloads are then directed to these faster cores, executing critical instructions more effectively. Intel claimed at the announcement event for its Core i9 10th Gen processors that this could improve performance “by up to 15%” in 1-4 threaded workloads.
In terms of gaming, such a change is going to be of primary benefit to games which priority 1 or 2 multi-threaded cores. Most AAA games shouldn't be doing this but sadly they do, perhaps most prominently Far Cry 5 and Far Cry: New Dawn. Once this update is out we do expect to see some noticeable gains in performance.
Windows 10's major 1909 update could begin to roll out as early as today, although expect a staggered release throughout the week.