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Benefits of Multiple Processors

As far as a dual-processor/dual-core-aware operating system is concerned (such as Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional), a system running a Pentium D or an Athlon 64 X2 processor has two logical processors displayed in the Performance Tab of the Windows Task Manager, while a system running a Pentium Extreme Edition with HT Technology enabled in the system BIOS has four logical processors displayed in the Performance Tab of the Windows Task Manager.

That's all well and good, but how does a system running a dual-core processor differ in performance from a single-core processor? Unfortunately, single applications will benefit from multiple processors or multi-core processors only if they are designed to support multi-threading. However, system performance improves regardless of how programs were coded when multiple applications are being run at same time, especially with complex tasks. Systems with dual-core processors handle multiple requests far better than single-core processors do. Switching between tasks is smooth and responsive.

Very few of today's applications are multithreaded. So, in practical terms, the types of users who will benefit from a dual-core processor are restricted to:

  • Users of office suites who use multiple documents or multiple applications at the same time
  • Users of content creation applications such as video editing and image editing (some of these applications are multi-threaded, while many users run multiple applications at the same time)
  • Existing software written especially for dual processor systems will also run well on a dual-core system

Current 3D games do not benefit from a dual-core processor for two reasons. One, 3D Games are single-threaded, and are almost always the only application in use. And two, dual-core processors run more slowly than the fastest single-core processors. For example, the fastest Pentium Extreme Edition is 3.2GHz, versus the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition at 3.73GHz. The fastest Athlon 64 X2 processor runs at 2.4GHz, versus the Athlon 64 FX-55 at 2.6GHz.

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