Thirteen New Instructions - SSE3

Back at IDF we learned about the thirteen new instructions that Prescott would bring to the world; although they were only referred to as the Prescott New Instructions (PNI) back then, it wasn't tough to guess that their marketing name would be SSE3.

The new instructions are as follows:

FISTTP, ADDSUBPS, ADDSUBPD, MOVSLDUP, MOVSHDUP, MOVDDUP, LDDQU, HADDPS, HSUBPS, HADDPD, HSUBPD, MONITOR, MWAIT

The instructions can be grouped into the following categories:

x87 to integer conversion
Complex arithmetic
Video Encoding
Graphics
Thread synchronization

You have to keep in mind that unlike the other Prescott enhancements we've mentioned today, these instructions do require updated software to take advantage of. Applications will either have to be recompiled or patched with these instructions in mind. With that said, let's get to highlighting what some of these instructions do.

The FISTTP instruction is useful in x87 floating point to integer conversion, which is an instruction that will be used by applications that are not using SSE for their floating point math.

The ADDSUBPS, ADDSUBPD, MOVSLDUP, MOVSHDUP and MOVDDUP instructions are all grouped into the realm of "complex arithmetic" instructions. These instructions are mostly designed to reduce latencies in carrying out some of these complex arithmetic instructions. One example are the move instructions, which are useful in loading a value into a register and adding it to other registers. The remaining complex arithmetic instructions are particularly useful in Fourier Transforms and convolution operations - particularly common in any sort of signal processing (e.g. audio editing) or heavy frequency calculations (e.g. voice recognition).

The LDDQU instruction is one Intel is particularly proud of as it helps accelerate video encoding and it is implemented in the DivX 5.1.1 codec. More information on how it is used can be found in Intel's developer documentation here.

In response to developer requests Intel has included the following instructions for 3D programs (e.g. games): haddps, hsubps, haddpd, hsubpd. Intel told us that developers are more than happy with these instructions, but just to make sure we asked our good friend Tim Sweeney - Founder and Lead Developer of Epic Games Inc (the creators of Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004). Here's what he had to say:

Most 3D programmers been requesting a dot product instruction (similar to the shader assembly language dp4 instruction) ever since the first SSE spec was sent around, and the HADDP is piece of a dot product operation: a pmul followed by two haddp's is a dot product.

This isn't exactly the instruction developers have been asking for, but it allows for performing a dot product in fewer instructions than was possible in the previous SSE versions. Intel's approach with HADDP and most of SSE in general is more rigorous than the shader assembly language instructions. For example, HADDP is precisely defined relative to the IEEE 754 floating-point spec, whereas dp4 leaves undefined the order of addition and the rounding points of the components additions, so different hardware implementing dp4 might return different results for the same operation, whereas that can't happen with HADDP.

As far as where these instructions are used, Tim had the following to say:

Dot products are a fundamental operation in any sort of 3D programming scenario, such as BSP traversal, view frustum tests, etc. So it's going to be a measurable performance component of any CPU algorithm doing scene traversal, collision detection, etc.

The HSUBP ops are just HADDP ops with the second argument's sign reversed (sign-reversal is a free operation on floating-point values). It's natural to support a subtract operation wherever one supports an add.

So the instructions are useful and will lead to performance improvements in games that do take advantage of them down the road. The instructions aren't everything developers have wanted, but it's good to see that Intel is paying attention to the game development community, which is something they have done a poor job of doing in the past.

Finally we have the two thread synchronization instructions - monitor and mwait. These two instructions work hand in hand to improve Hyper Threading performance. The instructions work by determining whether a thread being sent to the core is the OS' idle thread or other non-productive threads generated by device drivers and then instructing the core to worry about those threads after working on whatever more useful thread it is working on at the time. Unfortunately monitor and mwait will both require OS support to be used, meaning that we will either be waiting for Longhorn or the next Service Pack of Windows for these two instructions.

Intel would not confirm whether the instructions can be used in a simple service pack update; they simply indicated that they were working with Microsoft of including support for them. We'd assume that they would be a bit more excited about the ability to bring the instructions to Prescott users via a simple service pack update, maybe indicating that we will have to wait for the next version of Windows before seeing these two in use.

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  • sprockkets - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    Hmmm... on Intel's website on the new processor news: "Thermal Monitoring: Allows motherboards to be cost-effectively designed to expected application power usages rather than theoretical maximums."

    Not sure what it means. I'm thinking clock throttling so that if your particular chip is hotter than it should be it will run on under engineered motherboards/coolers.

    This chip dissipates around the same heat as Northwoods clock for clock! And of course, Intel style is wait 6-12, then the new stuff will actually be good. Still, is it really that important to increase performance so much that heat becomes an issue? I.E., will Dell be able to make the cooling whisper quiet? They can with the processor sitting at 80-90c, but now that with normal cooling it's almost there, now what will they do? Why can't we just have new processors that run so cool that we can just use heatsinks without fans? Oh well.
    Reply
  • Novaoblivion - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    Great article :) I found it very interesting I dont think I'll be buying a prescott till they hit about 4Ghz. My 2.4C is nice and fast for now. Reply
  • CRAMITPAL - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link


    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=13927


    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=13947
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    To Vanners, #38:

    "if you halve the time for a stage in the pipeline and double the number of stages. Yes this means you can run at 2GHz instead of 1GHz but the reality is you're still taking 5ns to complete the pipe."

    Yes and no... In the example, you're right that a single instruction takes the same 5ns to complete. But you're not just executing a single instruction... rather, thousands to millions! The 10 stage pipe has twice as many instructions in flight as the 5 stage pipe. Therefore in the example, you get one result out of the 5-stage/1Ghz cpu every 1ns, but TWO results out of the 10-stage/2Ghz cpu in the same 1ns... twice as many.

    What I find interesting is that as pipelines get longer and longer, we might have to start talking about Instruction Latency: the number of clocks and ns between the time an instruction goes in and when the result comes out. It'll never be anything a human could notice directly, but it might come into play in high-performance realtime apps that deal with input from the outside world, and have to produce synchronized output. Any CPU calculates somewhat "back-in-time" as instructions fly down the pipe... right now, a Prescott calculates about twice as far behind 'reality' as an A64 does. I don't know if there is any realworld application where this really could make a difference, or if there ever will be, but it's interesting to ponder, particularly if the pipeline lengths of Intel vs. AMD continue to diverge.
    Reply
  • cliffa3 - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    i don't see how a 4+GHz prescott will match up with intel's new pico BTX form factor...with that much heat (using air cooling), you need to keep a safe zone around the proc unless you like your RAM DDR+BBQ.
    I'd have to say that a lot of enthusiasts are younger and live in limited space conditions...might work well for people up north who don't want to run the heater, but as for me in texas, i have all the cool air pumping in to my bedroom and it still takes a lot to keep it cool. Can you imagine a university or corporation having a room full of those?..if they think about that, then it's no bueno for DELL and others as well.
    I'd also have to agree with the others about the heat/power being a major part of the article that was left out...otherwise a tremendous read, thanks for all the effort that goes into these.
    Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    But - I need to add - the correction was needed and is welcome. Not trying to pick a bone with the editors. Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    #55, you read what I read. I'll vouch for you. Reply
  • Icewind - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    #55
    Better go back to sleep me thinks :)
    Reply
  • Spearhawk - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    Is it just me (who was extremely tired yesterday) or has the 101 on pipeline part changed since the article was put up?
    I seem to rememeber reading someting about how a 5 staged CPU at 1 Ghz should be exactly as fast as a 2 GHz CPU with 10 stages (all else being equal of course) and that the secret of geting any profit out of going to more stages was to make sure that it couldn't only scale to 2 Ghz but to 3 Ghz or more.
    Reply
  • Icewind - Monday, February 2, 2004 - link

    I think shuttle owners are SOL with prescott. Reply

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