but test results haven't shown that dual-core CPUs
provide an extreme advantage. We weren't that blown away in our initial
coverage of Intel's first
mass-market dual-core chip
, and the situation hasn't really changed
since. Don't misunderstand: we love Intel's new Core 2 Duo chips, and
before their arrival, AMD's Athlon 64 X2 had our favor, but in neither case
were we impressed by new capabilities specifically tied to those chips'
twin processing cores. Both were simply fast, well-priced chips relative to
the current competition.
Keep two things in mind. As is often the case, the software hasn't caught
up to the hardware yet. As more applications are written from the ground up
with multithreaded code, I expect the benefits of dual-core chips to become more apparent. You should also consider that dual core is really an
opening salvo. The Apple Mac Pro effectively has four CPU cores between two
dual-core Xeon chips, and Intel's true quad-core
Kentsfield chips will be out soon
. While dual core might not show a
dramatic difference right now, the future of computing is really about
multiple processing cores. The quad-core chips will start out as server
parts, but eventually they will trickle down to the mass market. And while
the chips work their way down, you can expect that more and more software
will be written with multicore PCs in mind.
For a glimpse of what the multicore future might look like, check out the
CineBench tests from our
recent Mac Pro review
. We ran two tests: one that tapped a single CPU
core from each test system, another that used every core available. On the
single-core CineBench test, the Mac Pro and our test bed's scores were
close. On the multicore test, the quad-core Mac Pro blew away the dual-core
test bed by nearly 3X. That signified to us that when everything is
properly aligned, having more cores really can pay off.