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AMD plans antihyperthreading

Technology makes multicore act as one chip

What's better than two processors? Normally the answer might be four processors but, according to a leak from AMD France, the processor maker is instead working on a multi-core CPU that acts like one CPU.

Going in the opposite direction to current trends in the microprocessor industry, AMD's new technology is slated to arrive after AMD's next-generation K8 architecture and will be known as anti-HT, or antihyperthreading, according to a report on the French site X86-Secret, apparently based on information gathered from an inebriated AMD engineer. HT was Intel's way of using otherwise idle clock cycles for out-of-order execution, which made it appear as if a system possessed two CPUs.

An anti-HT system would have the advantage of harnessing the power of multiple CPUs without the software complexity. Although processor designers today see multiple CPUs as the way towards performance improvements rather than raising clock speed, it's generally acknowledged that the software industry lags badly when it comes to making use of those extra logic engines. The result is that a dual-core computer is nowhere near twice as fast as a single-core machine when it comes to executing software.

If AMD's system exists, if it's produced, and if it works – each of which is a major imponderable – then it could remove a key barrier to parallel computing by providing the benefits of the technology in hardware. It would then allow OS (operating system) developers to take advantage of the huge amount of work that's been done over the years to optimise the running of multiple threads on a single CPU.

Despite that, to be of full use, the system would have to be capable of being disabled by software that could exploit multiple CPUs, since an OS and application suite, if it's designed from the ground up to be fully multithreaded, is still likely to be faster even than the AMD hardware.

AMD was unavailable for comment on this story.

This story first appeared on Techworld.com.


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