How do CPU’s use multiple cores

6 cores, 8 cores, 40 cores! Okay may be not the last one but high CPU core count are a major selling point for computers and even Smartphone’s these days. Whether you are shopping online or talking to a worker in offline store. The idea behind it is simple, higher core count suggest more power, kind of impressive looking horse power number on a car. But is this always the case? Well if you like many techies you’ve probably seen a device around the web or from friends that super high end CPU’s with many cores, hyper threading won’t help you much in games. But why is that? With the demand that current, why are people spending more on a lower powered CPU. Well the answer lies in a concept called “Parallelization”. This means splitting a programs work load across multiple processing cores so that the computer can work on two different parts of the same load at the same time. For example you want to know what 5*4*3*2 is. A single core CPU will first multiply 5*4 to get 20 then multiply 20*3 to get 60 then multiply 60*2 to get 120, however a dual core CPU could assign 5*4 to one core and 3*2 to another core solve both problems at same time and multiply the results together effectively saving time.

Since it doesn’t matter in what order you execute the instruction in, since you are just telling the CPU to multiply numbers. This math problem is easy to parallelize. Now though this is a painfully simple example, it does illustrate how certain programs can take advantage of multiple CPU cores because they require lots of number crunching that can be easily split up. Application for video editing, encryption and file compressing and even scientific research such as whether modelings do lots of calculation that can be parallelized easily. Also computer’s GPU’s are designed for parallel computing, since the same idea holds true for rendering 3D graphics in a game. But if my graphics card is designed for parallel processing, why shouldn’t I also be getting a CPU with tones of cores? Well the thing is your GPU often doesn’t handle much else other than pushing out frames to your monitor, other important aspects of game such as artificial intelligence, responding to inputs and telling the GPU what to render are still handled by the CPU. Because of the complexity involved in processing things like AI and other forms of game logic and the fact is many of these code instructions must be done in a specific order or in reaction to gamer it is much harder for the programmer to parallelize and split the work load, especially as current game engines are not designed from ground up to take advantage of multiple cores.

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That said though your mileage may vary depending on what game or application you are using. Some of them due to variation in processes the CPU is handling are more CPU bound than others and can benefit slightly from additional cores.

For now if you are just using a PC to game then something having 4 cores is more than enough for you and you can also focus on other components of your CPU.

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