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What is a Multicore CPU

Multicore computing has now become the norm in almost all desktop and laptop computers. Multicore processors are even starting to find their way into the high-end mobile phone market as technology continues to advance. Today's CPUs (processors) usually consist of between two and six processing cores with each one acting similar to a unique processor. Previously, having a multicore computer meant having multiple processing units installed on a high-end motherboard which supported them due to having multiple processor sockets. However, today's multicore processors are more than powerful enough for most uses. Multicore processors provide much better performance in any application or video game which is designed to make use of them. You can also have one program using a dedicated processor core, making multitasking more effective.

A multicore processor doesn't potentially provide the same level of performance as a computer with multiple separate processing units installed. You're ultimately using the same processor and this unit shares the system bus and memory bandwidth. Also, applications which are not optimized for use with multicore processors will not see a significant advantage.

The only computers which typically still have single-core processors are ultra-compact, low-spec netbook computers. Just about every laptop and desktop computer purchased in the past three to four years has at least a dual-core processor. Dual-core processors are found on most standard, entry-level computers these days. They provide more than enough power for everyday computer use, such as surfing the Internet and running office applications.

Mid-range desktop computers often come with quad-core processors, although these are rarer on laptop computers due to power and heat issues. Higher-end machines contain six-core processors. Processors with eight cores are even starting to appear on the market with the introduction of AMD's Bulldozer FX-8 series of products.

You may also have heard of triple-core processors. These have only ever been manufactured by AMD, although they were originally designed to be quad-core processors. Triple-core CPUs are basically quad-core processors in which one processor core failed in the quality control test. Since the remaining processor cores still passed the test, AMD released them as triple-core processors with the fourth-core disabled. Many enthusiasts found a way to enable the fourth core, finding that, in some configurations, they actually worked perfectly.


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