Dual-processor computers

Chipmakers Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. now offer a processor technology that’s easily explained and whose benefits are tangible. Its name – dual core – is almost self-explanatory.

The processors work on the theory that two heads are better than one.

Rather than ratchet up the horsepower, the chips split the work between two computing engines on the same die. They can handle more tasks at the same time while keeping a lid on the electricity they guzzle and leak as heat.

A test included a Dell Dimension 9100 running Intel’s dual-core Pentium D 840 and an Alienware Aurora 7500 based on AMD’s dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ chips. Both outperformed a home-built Pentium 4 by a long shot.

Both booted up in a little more than 30 seconds and were the most responsive Windows-based PCs I’ve ever used. Still, these machines are overkill if you’re using them just for word processing, Web surfing and e-mail.


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