CPU Buying Questions - (Also Dual/Triple/Quad Channels?)

Hey there, I'm in need of some help. It's been quite awhile since I've gone to upgrade the core components of my PC. Usually I do it in a big chunk of the meaty devices e.g. (CPU, RAM, GPU, MOBO) The last time I did a real upgrade was about three or so years ago. Probably longer. Since then I traded out my CPU and GPU at different times, still using the same motherboard and RAM (4 GB, not cutting it anymore).

I'm looking to ugprade all core parts again, but I'm really stuck on the CPU-RAM area. The last time I did my upgrade there was no (affordable, at least) option for RAM over Dual Channel. That leads me to a handful of questions:

1) Is triple/quad channel worth it?

- It's an expense that'd basically run me double of just buying a Dual setup at 16GB. If I were to go with Quad, it'd be 32GB.

2) What are the supporting CPUs for Triple/Quad?

- It appears as though AMD hasn't even stepped into the rink of this architecture. It's been out for awhile now, is it really still just Intel?

3) Assuming a 550$ budget for CPU/RAM, what's the strongest combo?

4) What am I supposed to look for in a processor? Do more cores mean more performance?

- Used to I just looked at performance charts and went from there. Since quad-core and greater are basically the new norm now, I'm far more confused.

If anyone can answer these questions, I'd really appreciate it. I've been studying on Google for a good couple hours and I'm still confused.
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