Will a hyperthreaded CPU speed my computer’s performance?

Intel’s hyperthreaded CPUs help your computer to schedule work more efficiently but they won’t always speed your performance and aren’t needed for all tasks.

Computers are growing more powerful all the time. They may not be doubling in power every year the way they were in the early days of computing, but they continue to increase in speed, decrease in size, and use technology to offer improved computing performance in ever-shrinking packages.

One of these performance-enhancing technologies is hyperthreading, the name Intel uses to describe its CPUs that use simultaneous multithreading. Hyperthreading has been in use for over ten years, but many people don’t know what it is, how it works, and which applications it works well with.

Nick Allo from SemTech IT Solutions, an Orlando IT support provider shares his insights into hyperthreaded CPUs.

How does hyperthreading work?

Intel’s hyperthreading technique splits the CPU’s physical cores into virtual cores. The virtual cores, called threads, enable each physical core to undertake two simultaneous tasks. A CPU with two cores and hyperthreading can have four threads operating at the same time. A CPU with four cores will have eight threads, each able to perform a task at the same time as the other seven threads.

Hyperthreading turns one CPU core into two threads, allowing each of the threads to work on different task at the time.

Which processors use hyperthreading?

Hyperthreading is an Intel technology, so hyperthreaded CPUs include Core vPro, Core M, Core, and Xeon. Intel’s i7 cores can come with or without hyperthreading along with some i5 and i3 dual core mobile CPUs.

What applications is hyperthreading good for?

Hyperthreading doesn’t benefit applications that require your CPU to finish one task before moving on to the next. When the app can perform multiple actions simultaneously, hyperthreading comes in handy. Some apps where hyperthreading works well include:

  • Video Editing: one video frame can be processed while the next one is queued up because the original frame already exists.
  • 3-D rendering: multiple threads speed up repetitive rendering tasks.
  • Multitasking: If you run multiple tasks on your computer at the same time, hyperthreading can efficiently direct background tasks to one thread, while you work on processor-heavy tasks or power-thirsty games or social media apps in the foreground.

What are some drawbacks to hyperthreading tech?

Hyperthreading doesn’t really add cores to your CPU. It allows your processor to schedule work more efficiently. Hyperthreading will cause your processor to run hotter, and it also consumes more power than non-hyperthreaded cores.

How can I tell if I need a computer with a hyperthreaded CPU?

If you don’t do a lot of multitasking, then there’s no need for a hyperthreaded CPU. It won’t increase the speed and performance of programs that can’t take advantage of hyperthreading technology. Gamers in particular don’t see much increase in performance from hyperthreaded CPUs due to the way most gaming programs operate.

If you do video editing, graphics rendering, or other work that involves multiple programs or threads running at the same time, hyperthreading can give you a boost in speed and performance.

Look at the specifications of the software you use or software you plan to buy to determine whether an Intel hyperthreaded CPU is better or a quad-core, non-hyperthreaded CPU will better suit your needs. Shopping for a CPU and a computer isn’t as simple as it was a decade ago, but you can still find a machine that will meet your needs with a little preparation and understanding of how the underlying technology works.