August 3, 2007

To Dual core or not ? A Review of Dual core processor

Dual core have buzzing the hardware market for some time now, and everyone seems to be on the hype. The question that begs the answer should you go for dual core ?

I decided to write this article when my friend bought a Intel dual core PC, and when I asked him why did he choose it, he answered "Because my computer will run faster !"

I wished it worked that way but it doesn't ! How fast the computer runs the Applications and how many application the computer runs effectively depends on so many factors that it is insane to even elaborate! but to name a few, Processor architecture, RAM, Clocking speed, Application multi threading, Ventilation, Type of app, even the temperature of the environment...etc...etc !

Let us start with what is dual core ?
It is just 2 processors in a single package comprised of a single piece. Kinda like adding 2 outboard motor in a single boat !

Why is it good ?

The best analogy I can think of is with customer support center. Just like customer support guy can speak to only one person at time a processor too can handle only one thread at one time (A thread is a stream of data generated by any application) so when you suddenly switch between firefox to winamp the system rapidly switches between the threads to give seamless processing just like the customer support guy can switches between calls on line 1 and line 2.

That means will it be faster ?

In order to truly take advantage of the dual core you need the application to multi-thread that is split the input into many threads..... Imagine the application like a ACD that distributes incoming calls between 2 customer support guys (dual core) , without an ACD all calls with go the same person while the other person squats flies !

This ability to distribute a process into various threads is called multi threading like a ACD distributes calls ! But many application still doesn't multi thread, that means they still use only one processor when they can use both !

Here is the Ah ! moment !
So you can get a 2 Ghz dual core processor but the application might be only using 1 Ghz !

Compare this to a Single core of 2Ghz the same app will run faster in Single core of 2 Ghz than dual core of 2 Ghz !!

The conclusion !
Multi core is the way to go ! but I wouldn't break my piggy bank to buy a dual core just yet ! I'll wait for some more year by which most Application should be Multi threading capable !

For the mean time I'll get a bigger RAM !