Ask Ryu: What is SMT technology?

— 12:00 AM on February 14, 2001

SMT may well be the Next Big Thing in processor design. Intel is rumored to be incorporating SMT into its upcoming Foster chip, and this tech has a number of folks excited about its potential. But what is SMT, really? It's been described as a way of presenting two "virtual" processors to applications using only one chip. But that's not exactly right. Our man Ryu has been digging into the literature on SMT, and he's taken a stab at providing a more detailed explanation of SMT:
SMT is not SMP; they are not even remotely close. SMP attempts to share threads across multiple processors in order to keep instructions per clock (IPC) up and thus speed up overall system performance. More often than not, though, SMP will stall due to a inability to keep a constant flow of threads moving to each processor.
It's complex, engaging stuff, and it may change the face of computing. So read up.
Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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