Computer CPU makers debate multithreading, security

Wednesday, 15 October 2003, 12:52 PM EST

Computer microprocessor makers debated the merits of multithreading and hardware security at the Microprocessor Forum. Server CPU makers Fujitsu, IBM and Sun Microsystems provided more details on their upcoming multithreaded architectures, while Via Technologies showed a CPU with hardware security and Transmeta officially announced its Efficeon notebook chip.

While major server CPUs are moving to multicore, multithreaded architectures, an IBM senior engineer said the company has determined dual-threaded cores are optimal for its chips. "If you have a very efficient pipeline and memory access is very good, you get the best performance with two threads per die," said Balaram Sinharoy, Power5 chief scientist.

IBM's Power5 chip, a dual-core processor expected to ship next year, gets an average 40 percent performance boost from being dual-threaded, Sinharoy said. However, adding an extra thread only gains about 10-15 percent more performance, he added.

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