Intel publishes x86S architecture white paper: A new pure 64-bit design

The vast majority of gamers have already transitioned to 64-bit PC devices several years ago, a simple decision attributed to the inability of a 32-bit operating system to support memory exceeding 4GB. The most recent Microsoft offering, Windows 11, for instance, has discontinued support for 32-bit processors. Indeed, some of the newer kernels from Arm are now purely 64-bit, no longer providing 32-bit support.

Intel recently published a whitepaper detailing its x86S architecture, most notable for its exclusive 64-bit design. This signifies Intel’s intentions to eradicate some superfluous designs, paving the way for the eventual withdrawal of traditional 32-bit and 16-bit support. The expected outcome is a faster system, as an example, processor boot-up speeds are anticipated to increase.

The benefits of a purely 64-bit design, according to Intel, encompass:

  • Using the simplified segmentation model of 64-bit for segmentation support for 32-bit applications, matching what modern operating systems already use.
  • Removing ring 1 and 2 (which are unused by modern software) and obsolete segmentation features like gates.
  • Removing 16-bit addressing support.
  • Eliminating support for ring 3 I/O port accesses.
  • Eliminating string port I/O, which supported an obsolete CPU-driven I/O model.
  • Limiting local interrupt controller (APIC) use to X2APIC and remove legacy 8259 support.
  • Removing some unused operating system mode bits.

End-users need not fret, however, as Intel’s transformations will not wholly eliminate support for traditional operating systems. Intel assures its mature virtualization technology will continue to facilitate the initiation of legacy software. For those interested in delving into the particulars, the whitepaper offers a detailed explanation of the above processes.