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Nowadays, desktop and workstations are getting more powerful as they have multi-core processors.

For the versions of Windows that support multi-core processors, do these versions actually utilize these multi-core processors or does the operating system just use 1 core at a single time?

How can I tweak Windows 7 or 8 to utilize multi-core processors?

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depends which version of windows 7 and 8 you're talking about. Windows 7 Home, doesn't support multi-core cpu's –  Sickest Feb 11 at 1:40
    
@Sickest So, can I assume that Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 8 does not support multi-core. The rest of them (Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise) can support multi-core? –  user275517 Feb 11 at 1:43
    
Also, can I assume that the 64-bits versions of the OS will be able to utilize the multi-core more efficient than the 32-bits version? –  user275517 Feb 11 at 1:45
    
There are 2 different aspects you have to consider with a piece of software, just because it supports multi-cores, doesn't mean it utilizes it, which is why you have a good question. But if you're asking if a certain version of windows will run on windows os x, then you need to reword your question to ask one or the other or both, and I'm sure when of these guys is going to give you an awesome answer. –  Sickest Feb 11 at 1:45
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@Sickest You're confusing physical processors with logical processors. All Windows 7/8 editions supports multi-core processors out of the box, but only Professional editions or higher are licensed to use up to 2 physical processors. Talking about Windows 7, 32-bit editions are limited to 32 logical processors, and 64-bit editions are limited to 256. Source –  and31415 Feb 17 at 21:31

2 Answers 2

To put it short with the author's last question: Windows 7 or 8 will use all the cores. When you go to the task manager and see all those processes running, Windows has dibbied them up between the available cores. (The task manager's performance tab will show you that they're all doing something.)

Note that one of those processes can only be running on one core at any time. The exception to this rule is software specifically written to take advantage of multiple cores at the same time. These software programs are extremely complex.

It's not up to Windows to decide if a certain process will use more than one core at a time - it's entirely the software's. A program that would greatly benefit from utilizing multiple cores at once would be converting video files or other CPU-intensive work. It can greatly reduce the time necessary to get the job done.

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"For the versions of Windows that support multi-core processors, do these versions actually utilize these multi-core processors or does the operating system just use 1 core at a single time?" The confusion may arise from cores/actual CPUs. Win7 starter and home versions can only use 1 physical CPU (and all the cores inside of it). Win7 Pro, Ent, or Ultimate can use 2 physical CPUs (and all the cores inside of them - up to 32). See the bottom of windows.microsoft.com/systemrequirements –  pkSML Feb 11 at 12:35

Most of what the OS does is providing services for processes. Those processes call into the operating system from whatever cores they happen to be running on and the operating system generally provides that service by continuing to run on the same core. In addition, when the operating system has to dispatch later work, it does so using multiple cores.

This isn't a new feature. Modern multi-core machines are not all that different from older SMP machines that Windows has run on for years. Things like memory management and I/O were optimized because the Windows Server line would have been awful without it. Since Vista, Microsoft has worked significantly to improve the multi-core performance of features important to desktops such as graphics and sound processing.

So the short answer to your question is -- of course.

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