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Does Intel Core 2 duo/ AMD athlon X2 really have 2 separate processors? i.e are they capable of doing real parallel processing?

What I don't understand is the difference when somebody says Cores or Processors.

migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 5 '10 at 8:52

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Yes, they effectively have 2 separate CPUs.

The distinction "cores" and "processors" is mostly about the packaging:

  • When multiple CPUs are on a single chip, then you talk about cores.
  • When you have multiple sockets (i.e. physically separate things), then you have multiple processors.
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Each core can run a process or thread simultaneously with the other cores. It does not matter (much) whether the core is on the same physical bit of silicon. The Core Duo and Athlon X2 have two cores.

If you have a program that supports parallel computation, you can get parallelism on this type of CPU.

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No. They have two physical cores in same chip which can execute instructions of their own without depending on other. The real difference between multi-processor and multi-core comes when you talk about other resources which the processing unit uses. Mostly L1 cache will be specific for each core. But the other level caches and bus interfaces are shared across cores.

In a multi-processor system each unit usually have its own set of resources like seperate caches and bus interfaces. In a multi-core system we can achieve a considerable increase in performance with same resources that could be used in a single processor single core system! Its a cost effective option for multi-processor system.

Multi-processor systems are faster than multi-core ones.

Example for multi-processor:Intel Xeon and for multi-core:Intel Corei7 975 Extreme. Check the block diagram there to understand its operation in detail. Also check the price :).

Both have almost same speed, but Xeon is faster according to first two CPU entries in passMark. You are almost getting same performance out of core i7, but with much lesser cost than Xeon. So like i said, its cost effective solution.

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You might want to checkout http://www.cpubenchmark.net/ as well.

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