What is Hyper Threading in CPU? (Explained)

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What is Hyper Threading in CPU? The hyper-threading refers to a process where the physical cores of the Central Processing Unit or the CPU are divided into virtual cores.

The operating system of the computer usually treats these virtual cores as actual and separate physical cores just as the apps running on it do.

It is these virtual cores that are also referred to as threads.

In simple terms, Hyper Threading technology is actually a technology that is native to the IA-32 CPU architecture or Intel.

This technology enables one microprocessor to perform just like two different processors to carry out two concurrent streams of instructions to do more work in one clock cycle.

Ideally, the Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, or HT technology, is a hardware innovation.

This allows running more than one thread on every core. These multiple threads allow the CPU to do more tasks in parallel.

Well, things are not that simple.

There are lots of things that you ought to know in order to have a more comprehensive knowledge about the Hyper-Threading technology.

Well, you do not have to look far and beyond because you are at the right place and reading the right article for that matter.

What is Hyper Threading in CPU?

What is Hyper-Threading in CPU

Typically, Hyper Threading is a term given by Intel for Simultaneous Multithreading or SMT technology.

Intel brought this technology to use on November 14, 2002 when they launched the Pentium 4 into the market along with the Northwood B core.

The working process of Intel Hyper-Threading involves exposing two execution contexts for every physical core of the CPU when the Hyper-Threading technology is active.

This means that each of the physical cores now operates just like two ‘logical cores’ which are able to handle diverse software threads.

These logical cores can execute tasks and instructions more efficiently in comparison to any regular single-threaded core.

This helps them to take the most advantage of the idle time where the cores would have to wait for a specific task to be completed.

Typically, the Intel Hyper-Threading technology enhances the performance and output of the CPU manifolds.

If you want to enhance the speed of performance even more, you can also take the advantage of Intel Turbo Boost technology to make your computer super-fast, provided you have an Intel processor in the first place.

When you combine Intel Turbo Boost technology with Intel Hyper Threading technology, they will respond to the ever-changing workload more dynamically by disabling the inactive cores automatically.

This means that the processor frequency will be increased in the cores that are busy or active.

This will be further helpful in enhancing the performance for those applications in particular that use Hyper-Threading.

The most important takeaway for using Hyper-Threading technology is to know your particular computing needs.

As such there is no harm in using this innovative technology but that does not mean the virtual cores replace the benefits in performance offered by the actual physical cores.

You are allowed to disable Hyper-Threading if it is enabled in your computer but you do not need that additional oomph in its performance.

But if you are an avid gamer who wants to have the best possible gaming experience and explore the immersive effects of the game universe, you should use Hyper-Threading.

It is quite an easy upgrade to make.

However, there are a few demerits of Hyper-Threading technology.

Usually the processors that come with this technology are typically more expensive in comparison to those without it.

There are also a few other downsides of Hyper-Threading technology that you should keep in mind while opting for a processor that comes with this technology.

Now, at this point you may have several questions coming to your mind regarding this innovative technology of Intel.

Here are some of the most common and natural ones answered for you.

How Does Intel Hyper-Threading Work?

If you want to know how exactly Hyper-Threading works, you will first need to understand how a processor works.

Since the CPU is also known as the brain of the computer, it is more like a control center of the entire system. There are typically two important components in it such as:

The units have different tasks to execute. For example, the Control Unit directs the whole computer system by using electrical signals to carry out the instruction sets sent to it.

Therefore, the job of the control unit is not to execute the instructions itself but to direct the instruction traffic to the desired destinations.

However, it decodes these instruction sets before delegating them to different parts of the computer system.

On the other hand, the ALU carries out all the arithmetic and logical actions on the given data set.

Combining the functions of the CU and ALU both, the CPU carries out the instructions in the following steps:

  • The Control Unit fetches the information from the memory of the computer
  • It then reads the instructions and understands the meaning
  • The set of data is then directed by the CU to the ALU which carries out the actual operations and
  • The ALU stores the results in a register or in the memory.

The first two steps mentioned above are referred to as the I-Time or Instruction Time and the last two are referred to as E-Time or Execution Time.

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The entire process, which may seem quite a long and complex one, is actually completed in a fraction of a second.

This time depends on the speed at which the CPU can process the instructions or tasks.

If it is not of high power, it will result in bottlenecks and lags or slow-downs in the system.

This is where the Hyper-Threading technology comes into play.

This technology allows each core of the processor to perform the tasks in parallel.

This means that the efficiency of the processor is increased which results in better and faster performance.

With the use of Hyper-Threading, you can use the processor for running more demanding games and high-end apps at the same time such as:

When Hyper-Threading works behind the scenes, it will also help the CPU to direct lighter tasks, such as background apps, to a particular core of the processor while other apps that are more intensive, such as games, to another core in the multi-core processor.

In technical terms, the processor cores typically come with an instruction pipeline.

This refers to the queue of future instructions that are needed to be carried out.

This queue is updated constantly and is kept ready for the CPU to access and execute the instruction available at the head of the queue.

The processors use this queue to maximize the speed of execution of the future instructions by simply looking at them and also doing a few low-level and simple preprocessing on them as and when possible.

These optimizations include ‘branch prediction’ and ‘out of order execution’.

Well, if a processor comes with cores that are hyper-threaded, it will typically have two such instruction pipelines.

This second pipeline along with the second set of registers offer the speed benefits while executing multithreaded workloads.

What is Hyper-Threading Used for?

The most significant use of the Hyper-Threading technology by the CPU is to process more instruction and information in much less time.

It is also used to run more apps and tasks in the background without causing any disruption in the actual operation.

If all other conditions are favorable, the Hyper-Threading technology is also used by the CPUs to utilize the cores in it more effectively and efficiently while performing two different tasks at the same time.

Professionals, streamers, multi-taskers, and gamers who are known to use heavily threaded programs use the Hyper-Threading technology to enhance their computing experience.

This technology can be used to upgrade their systems easily into a gaming laptop or a gaming desktop.

It is also used in music and for streamed Twitch recording in parallel.

Typically, the main function of the Hyper-Threading technology is to add to the number of independent sets of instructions in the pipeline mentioned above.

This is done by making the best use of the superscalar architecture of the CPU which helps the multiple sets of instructions to be executed on separate data in parallel.

According to Intel, the Hyper-Threading technology is extremely useful because it utilizes the resources that would have been wasted otherwise remaining either idle or underutilized.

Should You Enable Hyper-Threading?

If you need faster processing and better results while running demanding apps and programs on your computer, you ideally should enable Hyper-Threading technology.

In most of the systems, the Hyper-Threading ability is enabled by default. However, you can switch it off or on according to your requirements if you know the right way.

If you do not know it, then all you have to do is set Hyper-Threading Technology to Enable or Disable in the BIOS or Basic Input/output System environment.

You can check whether or not the processor supports Hyper-Threading technology or whether or not it is active from the Device Manager.

However, there are some security issues related to Hyper-Threading which may make your system susceptible to hacks.

Though Intel claims that it is not true, it is best to disable it if you do not use it. This will also not strain your CPU.

What is a Hyper-Threading Example?

The Hyper-Threading technology is not available in all Intel processors.

A few examples of processors that come with Hyper-Threading technology include those Intel Core processors, Core M processors, Core vPro processors and the Xeon processors.

The Intel Core i9 10900K processor that comes with 10 cores, for example, will have as many as 20 threads when Hyper-Threading is active.

One most prominent example of the Hyper-Threading procedure is Cray MTA supercomputer.

This machine can manage as many as 128 threads at the same time with only one single CPU kernel.

Is it Better to Have More Cores or Hyper-Threading?

As said earlier, the Intel Hyper-Threading technology divides each core of the processor into two logical or virtual cores that act as separate processors.

These virtual cores or threads share most of the resources of the cores such as the functional units and the memory caches.

You must remember that having more physical cores matter more than having more logical cores.

This means that an Intel CPU that comes with 2 physical cores will usually use this process to create 4 threads or 4 virtual cores, and one with 4 cores will split them into 8 virtual cores or threads, and so on.

Therefore, you can see that having more cores is better because you will have double the number of threads that way.

Therefore, go for a processor that comes with more cores with a higher clock speed to have a faster performance.

If there are two similar processors to choose from, one with 2 cores and Hyper-Threading and the other with 4 physical cores, then you should choose the one with 4 physical cores.

Of course, it will be further enhanced if the processor also comes with Hyper-Threading ability.

Moreover, several applications available today do not actually need Hyper-Threading.

However, things are changing fast and more and more programs and games are designed today that perform much better on a processor with Hyper-Threading technology.

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So, a CPU with a higher number of cores and with Hyper-Threading technology as well will make your system future proof.

Ideally, Hyper-Threading technology is only useful when you run a lot of demanding programs at the same time.

These may be the programs used for 3D rendering, video encoding and others that create multiple threads.

In that case, Hyper-Threading technology will help in enhancing the processing speed.

And, moreover, these programs should be able to utilize the Hyper-Threading technology in the first place to provide the benefits of it.

On the other hand, for any average user using basic programs and apps do not need Hyper-Threading.

These tasks can be anything from using the word processors to the web browsers.

In that case, Hyper-Threading technology will hardly be of any help in enhancing the speed.

Therefore, having more physical cores is better than having more threads because the physical cores can operate in parallel without troubling each other.

However, two threads in a core cannot work in parallel.

They typically work concurrently or by interleaving with shared resources and not at the same time.

Does Intel i5 Have Hyper-Threading?

It is quite hard to have a definite answer to this question because the entire Hyper-Threading aspect with respect to the Intel Core i5 processors seems to be very confusing.

For example, most mobile Intel Core i5 processors come with two cores and with Hyper-Threading ability just like the Core i3 processors.

On the other hand, there are a few specific desktop processors that support Hyper-Threading technology while few others do not.

Also, the Intel Core i5 processors belonging to the 11th generation typically come with 4 Willow Cove CPU cores and support Hyper-Threading technology allowing up to 8 simultaneous processing threads.

On the other hand, the Intel Core i5 9400F processor comes with as many as 6 cores but does not support Hyper-Threading just like the mid-range Intel Core i5 8500 CPU and Core i5 8400.

However, the mid-range Intel Core i5 10400F Comet Lake processor for desktops comes with 6 cores and supports Hyper-Threading technology.

Therefore, the best answer to this question will be: it practically depends on the generation, type, model, and on the specific SKU of the i5 processors.

Will Hyper-Threading Improve Performance?

Normally, it does not mean that Hyper-Threading will double the performance of the processor or the system on the whole.

It will simply help the processor to perform in a much better way by using the idle resources.

It will reduce the wait time of the cores till a task is completed and therefore there will be a significant increase in the output of the processor.

This will help a great deal for specific types of workloads.

If there is an application or a program running on a logical core of a busy processor, it will have an output boost of more than half of the output that it would have got while running on a single core of a non-hyperthreaded processor.

It is also good to remember at this point that improvements in Hyper-Threading performance are highly dependent on the particular type of application being used.

While some particular applications may have a significant boost in their performance, there may be quite a few others that may experience performance degradation while using Hyper-Threading technology.

This is simply because the resources of the processors such as the cache memory are shared between the actual physical processors and the virtual or logical processors.

Does Hyper-Threading Increase Heat?

Well, it will, but not much. Ideally, Hyper-Threading means running two threads in each core.

This means that the cores will consume more power and therefore more energy will be dissipated as heat within the processor core.

However, compared with the key benefits offered by the Hyper-Threading technology, the additional use of power and generation of a little bit more heat will be insignificant.

Do All Intel Processors Have Hyper-Threading?

No, certainly not. Different variants of Intel Core processors do not support Hyper-Threading technology even if they come with multiple cores.

For example:

  • All Intel Core i7 processors that come with at least 4 cores and more support Hyper-Threading technology
  • Most Intel Core i5 desktop processors with 4 cores do not support Hyper-Threading technology
  • The Intel Core i3 processors with 2 cores support Hyper-Threading technology and
  • The Intel Pentium and Celeron processors with 2 cores do not support Hyper-Threading technology.

Moreover, different models of the same Core family or generation may or may not support the Hyper-Threading technology.

Therefore, do check it before buying a processor from the official website of Intel.

Does Hyper-Threading Double the Cores?

Sadly, no, Hyper-Threading technology does not double the physical cores.

As said earlier, it splits up a physical core into two logical or virtual cores.

Yes, you can say it doubles the cores logically because the apps and operating system think that the cores are actually doubled.

Does Hyper-Threading Use More Power?

Yes, the processors that come with Hyper-Threading technology typically consume more power in comparison to those that do not come with this technology.

This means that this additional power consumed will add up to your cost of operation unnecessarily if you do not use Hyper-Threading often, especially in a large scale of operation.

If you are into multi-computer applications, such as the server farms, this additional energy bill can be exceptionally huge.

How Much Faster is Hyper-Threading?

There is a natural confusion among most of the users about the increase in speed of performance due to Hyper-Threading.

A lot of users think that this technology actually doubles the speed since it doubles the number of cores in the form of logical processors.

However, sadly, it is not true and is not even close to double.

When the Hyper-Threading technology was first introduced or implemented by Intel, it increased the performance by only 15% but now Intel claims that the increase in speed will not be more than 30% in comparison with a non-hyperthreaded but otherwise identical CPU.

Is Hyper-Threading Good for Streaming?

Yes, it is because you will be able to do a lot of multitasking which is required during streaming especially or even while gaming and browsing the web at times.

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However, it depends on the content streamed because a few programs allied with streaming may not need or use the functions of Hyper-Threading.

Does Disabling Hyper-Threading Lower Temperature?

Hyper-Threading will heat up the cores though not significantly.

Therefore, turning off Hyper-Threading will enable the CPU to take on the same load for a little longer time and be a little bit cooler.

However, if you turn it on, the job will be done sooner and at the same time it will also cool off sooner.

So, the choice is yours. If you do not want a faster performance, disabling Hyper-Threading will surely reduce the temperature of the CPU.

Does Hyper-Threading Drain Battery?

Though the actual figures may differ from one program to another, in general Hyper-Threading will drain your battery.

According to some benchmarks and test results, while running specific programs the rate of battery discharge without Hyper-Threading may stay around 52 watts and may be increased to 62 watts with HT enabled.

On the other hand, when it is idle, the battery discharge rate without Hyper-Threading may be around 14 watts and may double that with Hyper-Threading.

Does Hyper-Threading Reduce CPU Usage?

Just like other things, this also depends on the type of programs you are running.

Actually, the CPU will be used whenever you use the computer since it does a lot of other tasks.

However, with Hyper-Threading when you run additional processes it may not improve the performance but may reduce the usage of CPU by taking off the load from a single core and dividing the tasks among two threads in it.

As you know already, with Hyper-Threading on, the idle cores and resources will be used to offer faster output.

Does Turning off Hyper-Threading Increase FPS?

Once again, this is not the case.

On the contrary, it is only when you enable Hyper-Threading you will get a higher FPS or Frames per Second, which is essential for running games.

This will also help you to do other tasks in the background, especially if the processor in your computer comes with a lower number of cores.

How Much Faster is Hyper-Threading?

As said earlier, according to Intel, the output produced by the processors are 15% to 30% faster when Hyper-Threading is used in comparison with tasks performed without using Hyper-Threading by an equivalent CPU.

Does Hyper-Threading Affect Overclocking?

When you use Hyper-Threading, your CPU will need more power and the current voltage used may not be enough for the current overclock.

In that case the overall stability may be affected.

However, you should never disable Hyper-Threading because in that case you will not have twice the physical cores of the CPU in a virtual mode.

And, with that said, enabling Hyper-Threading will not have any significant effect on overclocking.

It will be hardly 50 to 100 MHz, but the gains due to HT will be far better than that.

Is Hyper-Threading a Security Risk?

Though Intel claims that Hyper-Threading will not cause any security issues to the system, it is quite debatable and experts seem to be divided in their views regarding it.

As of now, the design of the Intel processors need them to share the physical address of L1 data cache across both logical processors of the hyperthread enabled core and the concurrent scheduling of software threads on these logical processors.

This makes it quite vulnerable to attacks and hacks creating a possibility for security compromise, stealing of information, and exploitation.

Therefore, if you are more concerned about security, you should disable Hyper-Threading.

However, you will then lose on the performance benefits by at least 3 to 5%.

Is Hyper-Threading Better for Gaming?

Well, apparently it may seem that it is always better to use Hyper-Threading while gaming.

However, whether Hyper-Threading actually helps in enhancing the gaming performance is highly debatable.

While some gamers say that Hyper-Threading is quite useful while gaming with its additional support provided during processing by the cores in the processor, a few other gamers say that this technology actually slows down the performance of the CPU.

However, if you want to figure out whether or not it is really effective while gaming, you will first have to get acquainted with the number of physical cores that the processor of your computer has.

Usually, a processor with 2 or 4 cores is quite adequate for playing even demanding games on your computer and getting the best possible performance and experience.

However, you will surely benefit if you have an Intel i3 or i5 processor with Hyper-Threading enabled in them.

Without this technology enabled in these processors you may experience slow-downs or lags while playing games.

On the other hand, it may not be the case when you use their more robust and powerful cousins, the Intel i7 and i9 processors.

However, everything depends on the type of games you play and their requirements as well as the settings on which you play the games.

However, if you want to make the best use of the Hyper-Threading technology of the processor while playing games on your computer, you will need to first make sure that the operating system installed in your computer is adequate to support it and the BIOS can handle this technology.

Does Hyper-Threading Cause Stuttering?

Yes, it may cause some significant stuttering by the CPU because when you turn HT off you are actually putting your CPU usage to 100%.

This is surely a recipe for some stuttering.

Conclusion

Therefore, with all these said and explained in this article, now you know how important Hyper-Threading is today.

Though you will not find a lot of processors out there that support HT as of now, soon you will have many because more programs will be designed that will need this technology to perform.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She loves to play video games and watch movies when she has no writing assignments. Follow Her at Linkedin