[SATLUG] Benefits of multicore CPUs under Linux ?

Don Wright satlug at sbcglobal.net
Tue Sep 8 14:11:38 CDT 2009

On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 11:09:37 -0500, Howard Haradon <hharadon at gmail.com>

>Can the desktop user with an up-to-date distro get much benefit
>from the newer duo and quad core cpus?  Are there options that
>need to be compiled into the kernel?  Or is this a matter of a
>long evolutionary process of gradual adoption of multi-threading
>by the application programs?

Multiprocessing (SMP) features have been enabled in most distros for
many years now. All *nix software, with few exceptions, is designed to
run properly on multi-CPU systems. That's the advantage of having a
common code base for all systems, from cell phones to supercomputers.
The author of a system call, utility, or application doesn't know how
many processors the system will have, so it must be designed for one or
many. Whether a single application takes advantage of the 

>>From what little I have learned, it sounds like desktop users get
>only about 15-20% utilization of the 2nd core with the new duo
>processors.  I probably can save money with a cheaper CPU over
>the next 8-10 years.

Why do you have a car that can go 70 MPH when it spends most of it's
time parked? The cost penalty for having a dual-core CPU is trivial
compared to the total cost of a system. For example: on Newegg the
cheapest three Intel processors are:
  Intel Celeron 430 1.8GHz Single-Core..... $39.99
  Intel Celeron E1500 2.2GHz Dual-Core..... $49.99
  Intel Celeron 440 2.0GHz Single-Core..... $53.99

Notice the dual-core is faster and cheaper than the third. (That one is
"out of stock" and at the bottom of the last page if you're looking.)
Newegg doesn't offer any other single-core Intel desktop processors -
except for the very low power Atom systems. AMD shows a similar pattern.

Remember Moore's Law. You'll save money with a *better* CPU in the next
10 years, but it will be multi-core.

Enjoy the ride!  --Don

I just realized the USB stick I casually loaned somebody has more capacity
than all the disk drives at my university (and cost less than one textbook.)

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