Selecting a computer configuration for gaming or running heavy duty applications like video editing and scientific simulation, makes it necessary that you choose the best computer processor. In this era of multi-core processors, one of the first questions you would ask yourself while making the choice would be, 'Which is better - Quad Core or Dual Core?'. The aim of writing this article is to provide a clear quad core vs dual core comparison, which will help you make an informed decision.
About Multi-Core Processors
A processor is a highly complex electronic integrated circuit, fabricated on a silicon chip, with billions of transistors etched on it, which serves to function as the central processing unit of the computer. When processor manufacturers hit a thermal wall, which prevented the addition of any more transistors on a single chip, they decided to create multicore processors, with multiple processors sharing resources on the chip. First dual, then quad and now six core processors have been launched that can process multiple programming threads simultaneously.
The cores put together to create a single chip usually share the cache memory and other resources and are built to share the processing workload. Just adding double the number of cores, doesn't double the performance speed of the computer. It doesn't work that way.
However, increase in number of cores does improve the speed substantially when the software being run on the computer utilizes all the cores. Till a few years ago, very few software programs were launched which has the multithreading ability to utilize all four cores of a quad processor. That is no longer the case today as programmers have begun utilizing the power of multiple cores fully. Let us see how quad core and dual core processors compare in terms of performance.
Which is Better - Quad Core or Dual Core Processor?
In spite of difference in the number of cores, the clocking frequency still remains the deciding factor, as far as performance is concerned. A dual core processor with higher clocking frequency is still speedier than a quad core processor with lesser operating frequency, especially when the software being used has not been built to use the power of the extra two cores.
As of 2011, more and more software programs are being launched with multithreading feature that can fully use the power of the four cores. So a quad core processor is faster than a dual core processor with the same clocking frequency, because of the extra edge the additional cores provide, by sharing a part of the workload. Hence, if you have to choose between a dual core and a quad core processor, going for the latter makes sense. The parallel processing and workload sharing offered by the extra cores, makes them ideal processors for 3D gaming, video editing and other such applications.
To conclude, there is no doubt that quad core processors with a higher clocking frequency can outperform their dual core counterparts if the software application being run, has been designed to harness the power of all four cores. While two to three years ago, most software programmers hadn't caught up with the entry of quad core processors, today that is not the case. Most heavy duty applications are now built with multithreading facility which utilizes the power of quad cores. As discussed before, even 3D games are now designed for quad core processors, which makes the question of which is better - quad core or dual core to be a no brainer. Go for any of the fastest Intel and AMD quad core processors if you are running any kind of graphic intensive or calculation intensive application like a simulation. Otherwise, for basic applications like browsing and running spread sheet software, dual core processors are good enough.