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I was wondering if there were any everyday-use software out there that were better than others at using both processors.. By everyday-use, I mean software like browsers (firefox), multimedia players (rhythmbox, amarock), office suites (open office), file explorers (nautilus), etc. Do these software even use both my cores or is one of them just sleeping? In other words, which everyday-use software are multi-threaded and can benefit from having a dual core even if they are the only software running?

fyi: I have an acer aspire 5536-5519 running Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope... AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor QL 64 (2.1 Ghz) don't even know what all this means...

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4 Answers

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Any application that uses threads should perform better on a multicore machine as the different threads can be assigned to different cores. However, if the threads need to access same resource (memory location, file, I/O port etc.) then the performance won't be any better than on a single core machine.

Where you do gain benefit is in being able to run two processor intensive applications at the same time, or have one running and still be able to browse the internet, answer e-mails, listen to music etc. as these other applications use the other processor.

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And I'm guessing that every recent application does use threads? –  Shawn Nov 3 '09 at 21:37
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wrong, very few do. Very few NEED to, it only makes sense when things can run parallel. –  Phoshi Nov 3 '09 at 21:38
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You'd be surprised. To keep the UI responsive you need to have at least two threads, one for the UI the other to do the processing. –  ChrisF Nov 3 '09 at 21:48
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A lot of apps do use threads. On the many processes running on my PC now, only 1 app has only 1 thread. All other have from 2 threads up to 43 (and 200 for the System process). –  Snark Nov 3 '09 at 21:48
    
How can I see which apps use how many threads? (ubuntu 9.04) –  Shawn Nov 3 '09 at 22:34
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Eveything.
No PC runs one single task anymore, everything will benefit from being able to process two things at once.

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I think the question was more along the lines of what individual apps are multi-threaded. The benefits from being able to multitask are great, but most daily apps are still single threaded, meaning if it is the only thing running it can only take advantage of a single core. –  MDMarra Nov 4 '09 at 0:10
    
Yes, that's more like what I wanted to know. I'll edit my question. Thanks MarkM –  Shawn Nov 4 '09 at 1:45
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Almost all "heavy" software will benefit visibly, video-editing and rendering, image-editing (Photoshop and such), compiling. The best thing probably is that you will still have a somewhat responsive computer instead of one that's completely tied up with the "big" task at hand.

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One note is to keep your everyday software up to date. Software is slowly becoming more multi-core optimized with each update. This isn't always true, but a good idea. Downside is newer versions seem to always add lots of new features and UI changes (viewed as bloat in some eyes) that might minimize the effects of any other multi-core performance gains in the software.

Most of the multiple-core performance gains you will get will just be with the operating system. It handles and manages your multiple apps running on the computer and intelligently assigns resources. Keep your OS up to date.

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