A quad-core processor is highly efficient when processing applications that require a large amount of processing power. It can effectively utilise its multiple cores to process a number of applications simultaneously, as well as support 64-bit multi-tasking, which increases the memory available for applications. However, older applications do not work as efficiently as newer applications do on quad-core processors.
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A quad-core processor features four cores; each core has the ability to process four different tasks simultaneously. A single-core processor has to share its frequency if it is to process multiple tasks at the same time, which tends to slow down a computer significantly. Therefore, quad-core processors are highly beneficial to users who tend to run multiple applications at the same time.
Photo and video editing programs that require a processor to process large amounts of data will work well on quad-core processors. The multiple cores will cut down the time needed to process the data by as much as four times when compared to a single-core processor. High-definition videos also will play smoothly on a quad-core processor due to its efficiency in processing large amounts of pixels.
A quad-core processor tends to run games that require a lot of software rendering very smoothly. Popular video games such as Crysis, Modern Warfare and Assassin's Creed are especially designed to take advantage of multi-core technology. As of 2010, most upcoming games are designed primarily for quad-core processors due to its extreme efficiency in supporting the video card to process both shadows and pixel shaders, which are critical processes when providing high-quality visuals.
Older applications that were designed before the introduction of multi-core technology cannot utilise the four cores in a quad-core processor effectively. Operating system such as Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7 are smart enough to allocate old applications to separate cores, but users running Windows XP or an older operating system will have to allocate such applications manually. Opening up the Task Manager, clicking on the "Processes" tab, right-clicking on a process, and selecting "Set Affinity" from the drop-down menu will open up an interface allowing users to assign the process to any of the four cores.
A quad-processor is the ideal solution when running multiple programs simultaneously or playing video games requiring a lot of processing power. If your computer is running Windows XP, it is recommended that you upgrade to Windows Vista or Windows 7 because quad-core processors work more efficiently on newer operating systems. However, if you plan to run some simple programs or just surf the internet, avoid buying a quad-core processor because a single or dual-core processor will handle such tasks very well.
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