Both AMD and Intel use clever multithreading technologies to allow a single CPU core to do the work of two. AMD’s approach, introduced in its latest Ryzen CPUs, is called SMT (simultaneous multi-threading), while Intel’s goes by the name HyperThreading.
With these chips, each physical core appears to Windows as a pair, capable of running two processes at once. In reality it only actively works on one at a time – the trick is that it can switch almost instantly back and forth between two assigned tasks. So whenever there’s a delay in executing one task – for example, if a value has to be fetched from memory – the core simply gets on with handling the other.
If you’re running fairly lightweight tasks, which don’t tax the CPU too heavily, Hyper-Threading works brilliantly, and can provide a real boost to responsiveness. However, that breaks down with more demanding tasks, which leave the core without enough capacity to properly service a second process. As our benchmarks expose, Hyper-Threading provides benefits, but it’s no substitute for real silicon.