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  • Dual Core Processors 101
Technology Articles > Hardware > Processors > Dual Core Processors 101

The term “dual-core processor” is the latest in computer-related hype. While used interchangeably with other processor types, dual-core processors are unique. Due to the construct of a dual-core processor, these processors are faster and more efficient than single-core processors. Some budget computers come with dual-core processors, and these processors are standard fixtures in almost all higher-end computers.

Dual Core Philosophy

Single-core processors can only perform one task at a time. When using multiple programs, a single-core processor must switch from one task to another. As a result, the speed of a processor slows down significantly. Thus, a computer that has a single-core processor is a lot slower than a computer that has a dual-core processor.

A dual-core processor has two cores (instead of one). Dual cores allow this type of processor to equally split data. This allows a dual-core processor to effectively complete multiple tasks without slowing down the speed of a computer. Dual-cores can complete work much faster than single-core processors.

Four or More Processors

Dual-core processors may be the latest things to hit consumer markets, but other processors exist as well. Some computers have four processors and other computers have up to six processors. Typically, gaming computers have more than two processors, since gamers must be able to complete multiple tasks at one time.

It is possible to purchase a four or six-core processor, though these processors only work with the right programs. Multiple core processors are only as good as the software that you are using. If computer software cannot recognize multiple processors, a processor will not work. The result of the wrong software and processor combination is a slow computer.

Select the Right Processor

A quad-core CPU or dual-core CPU is ideal for home office workers and casual computer users. Gamers and media enthusiasts should purchase computers that have quad-core or six-core CPUs. When searching for a dual-core processor, look for the following types:

•\tIntel Core 2 Duo
•\tIntel Core i3
•\tAMD Phenom II C2
•\tAMD Athlon II X2

Many current computers contain Intel’s popular “i” line. The Intel Core i3 is a dual-processor, while the i5 is a quad-core processor, and the i7 is a six-core processor. Since most applications will be upgraded as time marches forward, it’s never a bad idea to purchase a computer with as many processors as you can afford. However, this general rule may be null and void if you only plan on keeping a computer for one to two years.

Processor Brands

AMD and Intel have the processor market cornered (at the time of this writing). Intel processors are marketed better than AMD processors, though both manufacturers create processors that are easily comparable. When it comes to the AMD vs. Intel debate, there are supporters on both sides of the fence.

The processor brand that you choose is largely up to your personal preferences. At present, there are more supporters for Intel processors than there are for AMD processors. The main difference between the two is that an AMD processor is usually less expensive than an Intel processor, though this may change.