Dual processors, is it worth it?

So each time I have read a review or an article on dual processors, we always get the same old message of "Remember you need specialize software to take advantage of dual processors!"

I've never owned a dual processor machine, but have been wanting to purchase one for a couple of years now. Actually I was dead set on getting a Xeon P4 2ghz dual machine when the processor became available. But Intel was too slow delivering it and it was painful for me to continue to run on a PII 400Mhz so I upgraded to a fast single processor solution.

In anycase, the reason behind my want to purchase a dual system is because I use my system in a very multi-tasking environment. I will usually have at least two cpu intensive programs running at any given time, along with many smaller ones. In a situation like this, I imagine it would help a lot. Switching from a program that is doing a cpu intensive task to something else, sometimes can take half a minute to a minute, depending on the scenario... this can be very annoying when you experience it often. And for me, that is a lot. I can only guess that a dual processor machine would remove this or at least reduce the effect.

Another point behind my want for a dual processor, is for when a program hangs the system. I been very happy with win2k's stability, but I've come across a few instances were a program would hang to the point that the system would lock up... or give the appearance of locking up (i.e. the system is been slowed down to the point that it would be faster to reboot the machine than to kill the miss-behaving process.) I would imagine that in a dual-processing system, your system would not freeze in this manner.

But the first point is my main reason, multi-tasking. I've never seen anyone do benchmarks on running two programs simultaneously. I would suggest running two separate benchmarks at the same time on a dual processing system and then comparing the results to a single processor one. I bet you will then see a huge gap in performance.

Mad Hatter
Programmer, HardCore Gamer, All-around computer enthusiast
5 answers Last reply
More about dual processors worth
  1. Lost for words?
  2. I think you answered your own questions. You do a lot of CPU intensive multitasking... You want a responsive system, even when one app is choking (assuming it's only choking 1 cpu)... You're prepared to spend $$$ on Xeons! I'd say go for it, but with Athlon MP's, just because the cost of Xeons seems excessive to me.

    <i>Do I look like I care?</i>
  3. i`d say, that "Remember you need specialize software to take advantage of dual processors" is the point. now, win2k and winXP utilizes dual CPUs, and will definitly give u at least a 50% boost, if not a 100%.

    in games? i don`t know. i don`t think so.

    also, it seems to u that money isn`t an issue, assuming that u bought Xeon. why not buy a mobo for servers, with two Athlon MPs, and ECC RAM?

    "Is Celeron good?"
    "No. Celeron is bad."
  4. Ya, money isn't really an issue, however I do have limits. Although it looks like I will be able to build a nice dual system for a little less than $3000.

    As far as my reason behind choosing Xeons over AthlonMPs, well... I don't really intend of purchasing a system right this moment. At the moment my main system is a:
    PIII 1Ghz w/ 512MB RAM
    GeForce 4 4600
    Seagate 18gb 15000RPM
    on Win2k

    I'm comfortable with the system and don't feel like I need to upgrade right away. I'm waiting for the 3ghz Xeons. That's what I want to get.
    Dual 3Ghz Xeons w/ 3GBs of RDRAM
    Raid 0 w/ two Seagate 18gb 15k RPM harddrives
    + whatever the latest nVidia card maybe.

    Checking it out with pricewatch and the various other things like motherboard, sound card, network card, cd-drive, etc... I was surprise that it was roughly $2800 (I thought it would be more.)

    In anycase, at the speed at which Intel is delivering higher clock speeds. It doesn't look like AMD will have a response to Intel when it get's it's 3Ghz chips rolling out.

    Mad Hatter
  5. I'm also planning into going for Dual CPU system...I could only afford Athlon MPs though. I got some questions coz I know very little about dual cpu systems.

    Is the special software you are talking about only goes as far as the OS. I know Windows XP support dual cpu system but will all the other programs(games, apps etc.) be able to run on a dual cpu system, better utilize the benefits of it.

    How does a dual cpu work? Can you really assign a certain program to use one of the cpus? How do we know the amount of cpu power that a program will use? Now I confused myself further...hehe...how does a program and cpu work together?
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