Show Your Support: Have you heard of Phoronix Premium? It’s what complements advertisements on this site for our premium ad-free service. For less than $4 USD per month, you can help support our site while the funds generated allow us to keep doing Linux hardware reviews, performance benchmarking, maintain our community forums, and much more.
Intel quietly released a new whitepaper and specification for their proposal on “X86-S” as a 64-bit only x86 architecture. If their plans workout, in the years ahead we could see a revised 64-bit only x86 architecture.
Entitled “Envisioning a Simplified Intel Architecture”, Intel engineers lay the case for a 64-bit mode-only architecture. Intel is still said to be investigating the 64-bit mode-only architecture that they also refer to as “x86S”. Intel is hoping to solicit industry feedback while they continue to explore a 64-bit mode only ISA.
The X86-S mode would require booting CPUs directly into 64-bit mode and also allow for some fundamental changes like being able to switch to 5-level paging without leaving a paged mode.
Among Intel’s expressed benefits for a 64-bit mode-only architecture is removing ring 1 and 2, dropping 16-bit addressing support, eliminating ring 3 I/O port accesses and the string port I/O, simplified segmentation model, and removing some unused operating system bits.
Under this proposal, those wanting to run legacy 32-bit operating systems would have to rely on virtualization. To further clarify, 32-bit x86 user-space software would continue to work on modern 64-bit operating systems with X86-S.
Those interested can see Intel’s documentation around the proposed 64-bit only architecture X86-S via Intel.com.
It’s still likely some years away before seeing this possible x86S/X86-S architecture for going 64-bit only but very interesting to see Intel beginning these moves for doing away with the legacy modes.