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  Hyper-Threading On The Desktop 
  Nov 14, 2002, 02:00am EST 
 

Benchmarks: Multitasking


By: Sander Sassen

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Here's where we start to see the real benefits Hyper-Threading can offer. The upper two bars on the graph show the scores obtained by running a single 3DMark2001SE loop as the only process. As 3DMark2001SE is not mutli-threaded, there is naturally no performance difference whatsoever between the two.

But look at what happens when we run the 3DMark2001SE loop with the SETI@Home client running in the background. SETI@Home is very processor-intensive, but only demands the use of specific execution resources. On a processor without Hyper-Threading, the remaining execution resources are essentially wasted. But with Hyper-Threading enabled, 3DMark2001SE is able to make use of the previously unused execution resources, and as a result, its performance improves very drastically. In short, while there's no difference between the two systems with only one application running, Hyper-Threading gives no less than a 40% improvement with two running. Impressive.

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How about this? We measured the time necessary to compress a 1GB file (using ZIP format). Our compression program is not multi-threaded, so when run by itself, we expect Hyper-Threading to yield no performance increase. Now look at what happens when we run the same compression test while playing an MP3, and running a fairly demanding Visualization Plug-In. The demanding Plug-In grinds the non-Hyper-Threading system to a hault, almost doubling the compression time, but the Hyper-Threaded system is able to maintain much more reasonable performance.

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But how about games? We fired up Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, and benchmarked it on our Hyper-Threading and non-Hyper-Threading systems, and, since it's not multi-threaded, observed no real difference. Then we decided to experiment by running the same benchmark, while running the exact same 1GB ZIP compression test we used above. The Hyper-Threading Pentium 4's increased efficiency allows it to perform some 10% faster than the other when running these two processes simultaneously.



1. Introduction
2. SMT and SMP
3. Scheduling and Caching
4. Proformance or Performance
5. Hardware and Software
6. Benchmarks
7. Benchmarks: Multitasking
8. Benchmarks: Multitasking Cont.
9. Summary
10. Appendix

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