Hyperthreading technology allows a single physical processor core to behave like two logical processors. The processor can run two independent applications at the same time. To avoid confusion between logical and physical processors, Intel refers to a physical processor as a socket, and the discussion in this chapter uses that terminology as well.

Intel Corporation developed hyperthreading technology to enhance the performance of its Pentium IV and Xeon processor lines. Hyperthreading technology allows a single processor core to execute two independent threads simultaneously.

While hyperthreading does not double the performance of a system, it can increase performance by better utilizing idle resources leading to greater throughput for certain important workload types. An application running on one logical processor of a busy core can expect slightly more than half of the throughput that it obtains while running alone on a non-hyperthreaded processor. Hyperthreading performance improvements are highly application-dependent, and some applications might see performance degradation with hyperthreading because many processor resources (such as the cache) are shared between logical processors.

Note: On processors with Intel Hyper-Threading technology, each core can have two logical processors which share most of the core's resources, such as memory caches and functional units. Such logical processors are usually called threads.

Some processors do not support hyperthreading and as a result have only one thread per core. For such processors, the number of cores also matches the number of logical processors.

Hyperthreading and ESXi Hosts

A host that is enabled for hyperthreading should behave similarly to a host without hyperthreading. You might need to consider certain factors if you enable hyperthreading, however.

ESXi hosts manage processor time intelligently to guarantee that load is spread smoothly across processor cores in the system. Logical processors on the same core have consecutive CPU numbers, so that CPUs 0 and 1 are on the first core together, CPUs 2 and 3 are on the second core, and so on. Virtual machines are preferentially scheduled on two different cores rather than on two logical processors on the same core.

If there is no work for a logical processor, it is put into a halted state, which frees its execution resources and allows the virtual machine running on the other logical processor on the same core to use the full execution resources of the core. The VMware scheduler properly accounts for this halt time, and charges a virtual machine running with the full resources of a core more than a virtual machine running on a half core. This approach to processor management ensures that the server does not violate any of the standard ESXi resource allocation rules.

Consider your resource management needs before you enable CPU affinity on hosts using hyperthreading. For example, if you bind a high priority virtual machine to CPU 0 and another high priority virtual machine to CPU 1, the two virtual machines have to share the same physical core. In this case, it can be impossible to meet the resource demands of these virtual machines. Ensure that any custom affinity settings make sense for a hyperthreaded system.

Enable Hyperthreading

To enable hyperthreading, you must first enable it in your system's BIOS settings and then turn it on in the vSphere Client. Hyperthreading is enabled by default.

Consult your system documentation to determine whether your CPU supports hyperthreading.


  1. Ensure that your system supports hyperthreading technology.
  2. Enable hyperthreading in the system BIOS.
    Some manufacturers label this option Logical Processor, while others call it Enable Hyperthreading.
  3. Ensure that hyperthreading is enabled for the ESXi host.
    1. Browse to the host in the vSphere Client.
    2. Click Configure.
    3. Under System, click Advanced System Settings and select VMkernel.Boot.hyperthreading.
      You must restart the host for the setting to take effect. Hyperthreading is enabled if the value is true.
  4. Under Hardware, click Processors to view the number of Logical processors.


Hyperthreading is enabled.