A system and method for performing computer processing operations in a data processing system includes a multithreaded processor and thread switch logic. The multithreaded processor is capable of switching between two or more threads of instructions which can be independently executed. Each thread has a corresponding state in a thread state register depending on its execution status. The thread switch logic contains a thread switch control register to store the conditions upon which a thread switch will occur. The thread switch logic has a time-out register which forces a thread switch when execution of the active thread in the multithreaded processor exceeds a programmable period of time. Thread switch logic also has a forward progress count register to prevent repetitive thread switching between threads in the multithreaded processor. Thread switch logic also is responsive to a software manager capable of changing the priority of the different threads and thus superseding thread switch events.