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Windows 11 can use less power without sacrificing performance thanks to EcoQoS

A computer’s power consumption is not determined by its hardware alone. The software also contributes to this. It is no coincidence that Microsoft is working on a feature that can make Windows 11 require less power under certain circumstances, but without significant performance loss: EcoQoS. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

At first glance, the name is strange, but it becomes friendly when we discover its meaning: Eco Quality of Service (something like “Economic Quality of Service”) or, simply, Eco QoS .

Okay, not much better. It is important, then, to understand what Microsoft means by “Quality of Service”.

Processes and Threads

The execution of tasks in the operating system is done through processes and threads. A process basically consists of running software. A thread is a structure within the process that allows it to be executed. A process can have one or more of them. It is as if each thread forms a subtask.

The processor runs threads, not processes directly. It is up to the operating system to set priority levels so that threads are scheduled and then executed.

It is also the role of Windows to associate a QoS with the thread. It is a parameter that indicates the levels of performance and energy efficiency with which it must be performed. As you might have guessed, there are levels like high, medium and low.

Microsoft explains that priority is crucial for the system to define which threads should be scheduled in a sequence to be executed, but QoS can influence the selection of the core that will do this work or how the processor will demand energy for it.

Now yes, EcoQoS

Well, EcoQoS is a new level of QoS. Well, not exactly new, after all, it was introduced in April 2021, originally for Windows 10.

But it is in Windows 11 that the feature promises to be really useful. In system build 22557, released this month for Windows Insiders, you can find a new Task Manager which, in turn, brings an efficiency mode. When this option is activated, the process (and its threads) has its priority reduced and the QoS enters the EcoQoS level.

According to Microsoft, EcoQoS ensures that the process runs more efficiently in terms of energy consumption. For this, the processor can do the execution using a lower frequency, for example.

The company’s tests show that in certain scenarios, efficiency mode can improve system responsiveness by levels ranging from 14% to 76%.

Note that this approach moderates the workload, but does not prevent the process from running. This is a very different function from the “End Task” option, which is usually triggered to “kill” a process that is consuming excessive system resources.

Of course, there are processes that are critical and, as such, should not be de-prioritized. In this case, Windows prevents efficiency mode from being activated.

If used well, Efficiency Mode and EcoQoS can contribute to increasing battery life, reducing equipment fan rotation and improving workload distribution, as well as being a safer alternative to “End Task” on times when the system is overloaded.

While Microsoft demos show EcoQoS being manually triggered in user-selected processes, the feature can be automatically enabled in applications via APIs. There are already tests of this type being done with Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.

Efficiency mode: when does it arrive?

There is no word yet on when Efficiency Mode and EcoQoS will become official Windows 11 features, but as the new features are being released for testing in the Windows Insider program, there is a good chance that this will happen in the near future.

This is just the beginning. At least that’s what the statement about the efficiency mode implies. In it, Microsoft states that it is focused on the CPU for now, but that similar techniques could be targeted at other system resources in future steps. Maybe the company is talking about components like the GPU.

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