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Just out of curiosity: as a desktop user with no large calculations or compilations to do, what's the point in having more than 2 cores? Or high clockspeed for that matter? I understand faster is better but it doesn't happen that often that I'm waiting on an application which doesn't involve lots of disc activity and I believe faster also means more power & cooling needed, in that I'd gain the most from having lots of fast RAM, I think.
So, what can I use more cores for?
Just out of curiosity: as a desktop user with no large calculations or compilations to do, what's the point in having more than 2 cores? Or high clockspeed for that matter? I understand faster is better but it doesn't happen that often that I'm waiting on an application which doesn't involve lots of disc activity and I believe faster also means more power & cooling needed, in that I'd gain the most from having lots of fast RAM, I think.So, what can I use more cores for?
One core for the O.S. to play with and page (if necessary), and the other for the application you are using.
If you're not doing any major grunt work (games / photo manipulation / video copying), then 2x cores of the slowest you can find would be fine.
Have a look at the new AMD BE series. The BE2300 or BE2350 consume no more than 45W (compared to 69-85) and don't need to spin fans as fast, so they're quieter too.
also generally the more cores you have teh greater the cache on the processor allowoing for faster memory retrieval.. but if you have high speed ram and a high speed memory bus on your bored then there isnt much point other then for bragging rights
I have too little technical background to fully understand the issues around multi-core. With a bit of googling it's easy to find some information but it usually focuses on 2 angles:
- multi-core processing works great for applications that have been designed/programmed with multiple threads/processes (whatever's more appropriate here) in mind,
- the Linux SMP kernel with scheduler performs load balancing, distributing threads/processes over the cores available.
What I'm missing here is how much effect a desktop user will experience by running several apps that haven't been developed specifically for parallel processing ('enough' apps to put an interesting load on the system, whatever that may be). Or a different view: what's the role of the window manager on a multi-core system? Is the WM simply unaware of the amount of CPUs and has it have the kernel sorting things out or do I need a multi-core WM in order to see all cores being used effectively?
A recent entry on the Coding Horror blog has something about clockspeed vs 2 - 4 cores. It's Windows centric and raises more questions than it answers (see comments) but it's on topic here:
Higher counts on cores allow you to do more at once. But there is a catch, packing too many cores on a single die does diminish the entire CPU's efficiency when it comes to getting data from memory. You're effectively dividing your FSB by the number of cores.
But then again, Tillera has a 64 Core chip already out, with plans to roll out a 128 core chip before 2010.