SSE4 – Intel’s enhanced multimedia focussed CPU instruction set

SSE4 is a set of instructions released in conjunction with Intel’s Penryn processor. SSE4, built upon the Intel 64 Instruction Set Architecture, represented Intel’s first major change to its instruction set for some time, and followed smaller changes introduced (in the guise of SSE3) with the Prescott (horizontal add/subtract) and Core 2 Duo (absolute value and double-width align) processors. Intel believes that SSE4 offers the greatest change to the x86 instruction set in five years and allows the Penryn clock to run at higher frequencies than its Core 2 parents but within the same cool thermal envelope. While this only benefits applications that are able to use SSE4 (like media encoding), the speed improvements are reported to be in the order of 40%. There are around 50 new instructions in the SSE4 set, the majority of which are instructions to utilize parallelised code and data-structures, making it easier to take full advantage the Penryn’s multi-core processors and its multi-threading capability. SSE is an acronym for ‘Streaming SIMD Extensions’. The general concept behind these instructions is to combine certain common operations into one smooth operation: rather than a series of x instructions required for, say, discovering the dot product of two vectors, SSE provides one dedicated instruction. SSE reduces complex operations into native instructions, and this can greatly improve the efficiency of the processor in certain applications. SSE4 made 47 new instructions available with the Penryn processor. Most of the new instructions are related to vector operations, which are the staple of graphics and multimedia processing. Also included are primitives that increase the speed of streaming and improves access to...

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