Tech Tips / Windows XP / Performance Monitoring and Optimization

Cool off with the System Idle Process

If you take a look at the Task Manager—press [Ctrl][Shift][Esc]—and click the Processes tab, you'll see all the programs and system processes that are currently running.

The majority of processes vary, but some are present on all Windows XP computers.

One constant is the System Idle Process, which is a single thread that runs on each processor. This process runs more than any other system process, and it takes a lot of CPU time; however, its memory usage is very low.

The System Idle Process runs only when no other processes are using the CPU. Thus, when the CPU is idle, the System Idle Process is in action, executing special halt (HLT) instructions that put the CPU into a suspended mode and thereby cool the processor.

Note: It's not possible to End Task the System Idle Process from the Task Manager.

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