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TekSpek CPUs


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Single and Dual Core Processors
Over the course of the last year or so we've seen GHz become less of a focus when it comes to processors. Instead, we're seeing a shift towards processors that do more work per clock, have larger caches, are more power efficient, and of course we've seen dual-core processors hit the market. So what is dual-core all about, and how does it weigh up compared to single-core?

How do they do it?
First, let's be clear on what a dual-core processor is. Dual- and multi-core CPUs have in fact been around for a while, but no on x86 hardware, so dual-core is new to this part of the market, but not new in a complete sense. When you're dealing with a dual-core processor, you have one processor package, and on it there are two execution units. So, you take one dual-core processor, drop it into your compatible motherboard, and as far as your Operating System is concerned, you have a dual CPU system.

The way in which dual-core is actually implemented can be different as well. You can combine two cores into a single die (the small, raised section on the CPU package, which you cannot see if there is a metal head spreader on your CPU,) or you can put two dies on the same package. Similarly, you can have a dual-core CPU where each core has its own L2 cache, or you might have a design where the L2 cache is shared between the two cores. There are technical and performance merits and drawbacks to these different methods, which we won't delve into in this article.

So, to sum up dual-cores, you've basically got two processing units on the same package.

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