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What is Hyper-Threading?

Hyper-threading (officially called Hyper-Threading Technology or HT Technology, and abbreviated as HTT or HT) is Intel's proprietary simultaneous multithreading (SMT) implementation used to improve parallelization of computations (doing multiple tasks at once) performed on x86 microprocessors.

Hyper-Threading Technology is a form of simultaneous multithreading technology introduced by Intel, while the concept behind the technology has been patented by Sun Microsystems. Architecturally, a processor with Hyper-Threading Technology consists of two logical processors per core, each of which has its own processor architectural state. Each logical processor can be individually halted, interrupted or directed to execute a specified thread, independently from the other logical processor sharing the same physical core.

Unlike a traditional dual-processor configuration that uses two separate physical processors, the logical processors in a hyper-threaded core share the execution resources. These resources include the execution engine, caches, and system bus interface; the sharing of resources allows two logical processors to work with each other more efficiently, and allows a logical processor to borrow resources from a stalled logical core (assuming both logical cores are associated with the same physical core). A processor stalls when it is waiting for data it has sent for so it can finish processing the present thread. The degree of benefit seen when using a hyper-threaded or multi core processor depends on the needs of the software, and how well it and the operating system are written to manage the processor efficiently.

Hyper-threading works by duplicating certain sections of the processor-those that store the architectural state-but not duplicating the main execution resources. This allows a hyper-threading processor to appear as the usual "physical" processor and an extra "logical" processor to the host operating system (HTT-unaware operating systems see two "physical" processors), allowing the operating system to schedule two threads or processes simultaneously and appropriately. When execution resources would not be used by the current task in a processor without hyper-threading, and especially when the processor is stalled, a hyper-threading equipped processor can use those execution resources to execute another scheduled task. (The processor may stall due to a cache miss, branch misprediction, or data dependency.)

This technology is transparent to operating systems and programs. The minimum that is required to take advantage of hyper-threading is symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support in the operating system, as the logical processors appear as standard separate processors.

For operate with Hyper-Threading turning it on and off has to be done from the BIOS. It will usually be under "advanced options" or something similar and will clearly state Hyper-Threading. As for my Asus Sabertooth Z77 Hyper-Threading can find in "Advanced -> CPU Configuration" section.

Asus Sabertooth Z77

The easiest way to see if it's enabled see on our System Monitor II gadget.

Note: Keep in mind that Hyper-Threading is a feature offered only on Intel CPUs. It is not available on AMD processors.