Chip Multithreading

What Does Chip Multithreading Mean?

Chip multithreading (CMT) is a way to increase performance through parallel processing. It is the ability of the microprocessor to process multiple hardware threads of execution as well as process multiple software threads.


Techopedia Explains Chip Multithreading

The best way to achieve CMT is called chip multiprocessing (CMP), a technology pioneered by Sun Microsystems. The core characteristic of the technology involves duplicating the entire processor core along with most of its subsystems and placing it on a single silicon die. This can be done by co-packaging two modified processors with additional logic circuits that allow them to behave exactly like a single dual core die.

One big benefit of CMP is its backward pin compatibility with previous generations. This enables a CMP processor to fit into an existing computer setup and multiply the number of processors in the system. With the increase in processing cores comes an increase in processor validation. However, there is a downside to this technology. Multiplying the number of processors exponentially increases the number of transistors, which takes up more space, is more expensive and tends to cause problems with heat dissipation.

Chip multithreading is an application of parallel processing. It can be seen as being similar to software multithreading where multiple processor activities can be done in a single process. The only difference is that CMT is hardware-based so that the processor handles the different threads instead of the software. The key advantage of this compared to older processor technologies is improved throughput.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.