The operation of a computer is dependent on its processor, also known as its Central Processing Unit or CPU, and the quality and design of the processor have much to do with the performance of the computer. Unless otherwise specified, computers are assumed to have a single processor, but more recently, multi-core processors have been introduced, and these include two or more cores that are integrated together to a greater or lesser extent. A computer having four cores, for example, is said to have a quad-core processor, while one having two cores is referred to as a dual-core processor. For a computer owner, there are several specific advantages of a dual-core processor rather than a single-core processor.
The first of the advantages of a dual-core processor over the single processor is a performance gain. The specific amount of improvement varies both with the hardware and software involved and also with the particular task the user is doing. However, the improvement is closer to 50% than 100%, which is what one might expect will happen by doubling the amount of processor, and may be less than that in some cases. Improvements with individual applications will depend in part on whether the software is optimized for dual-core processing.
The performance increase from adding another core has advantages over other methods of increasing performance. First, it can be achieved without the side-effects of scaling the clock rate, which generate more waste heat and makes designing and building processors more expensive. Second, some other alternatives for increasing performance, such as increasing L2 cache and adding L3 cache, have already been maximized, and there’s really no place else to go with them.
The advantages of a dual-core processor also make it rise above a single-core dual-threaded processor. This is partly because in a single-core dual-threaded processor, the threads are competing for resources. It can also be true when running software that is not optimized for this type of processing, providing only a single thread program, in which case, the processor reserved for the second thread is idle.
Reduced battery consumption is another of the advantages of a dual-core processor. Other advantages include better multitasking and improvements in gaming experience. Computers themselves are affected, with both desktops and laptops that are smaller and quieter possible as a result of the new technology.