Special Topics in Computer Science: Simultaneous Multithreading
Intel recently began shipping the first commercially-available, general-purpose microprocessors with simultaneous multithreading (SMT). Additionally, IBM has announced that the Power5 serverchip with SMT will be available in 2004. Other SMT enabled microprocessors have been announced, including include Alpha’s 21464 and Sun’s MAJC 5200 processor. While simultaneous multithreading is currently available in a few microprocessors, it will become commonplace in a short time because of its architectural benefits. In particular, SMT has a small cost but a large potential gain. For example, Intel claims 5% increase in die space and up to 30% increase in performance. This is very different from other architecture features, such as super-scalar execution and branch prediction, in which the additional resources required tends to exceed the performance gains.
This is a seminar-style course. A typical class period covers a relevant research paper, consisting of a presentation followed by a discussion. Students are expected to participate, which may include presenting a paper to class or leading the classroom discussion.
The course is focused on semester-long projects. Students will devise a project that creates software that supports SMT is some way. In addition, students will write a report on their project. Some projects may be done in student teams. All projects will be closely supervised by the instructor. The instructor is an implicit member of each team.