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January 29, 12:12

Why we need dual processor machines

The most important feature of the PowerMacs is their dual processor setup. This usually doesn't seem to mean a whole lot in benchmarks because they normally just run a single program through the passes. That program has to be specifically designed with dual processors in mind to take advantage of it. Most rarely are.

No, it's all about multitasking. About the system not grinding to a halt when iPhoto needs to rebuild it's index for your 1000 pictures. Or when you're extracting that 200mb compressed file. Or when you're compiling that piece of code that needs to link 20 large libraries.

That's when a dual setup will shine.

The reason for this is that it's very expensive for a processor to switch tasks. When you just have a single processor and 50 active tasks screaming for a slice of the silicon, it's going to spend the majority of it's resources simply switching back and forth between the tasks.

That's a very ineffective mode of operation that hampers the spirit of even the fastest single processor setup.

With two processors there's much less switching going on. Depending on how smart your OS is at figureing out how to utilize the two processors (and OS X is at least promoted as being pretty smart on this), you can get dramatic performance boosts.

Hopefully I'll soon be able to do a first-hand report on how much it actually matters :).

Challenge by Mike Agar on January 30, 17:33

Actually, with dual processors there's just about as much switching going on. Some might argue there's twice as much switching going on since both processors are switching amongst the tasks. If you check your process list you'll find that there is many more than 2 processes active and as such they ALL get switched through the processors.

I have been using dual processor intel machines for quite some time, and the benefits you are going to see are that IO heavy tasks will not block as much of your system since there will be another processor ready for other things. That being said if you have two HDD intensive tasks they will still be as slow as on a single processor machine since they'll be fighting for access to the same device and the requests will be queued serially. Thus if you have differing IO tasks or IO and computation bound tasks this is where the dual setup shines.

Challenge by Namit on January 01, 18:38

Hi David,
I was looking for information on Dual Processor Machines on the web and came to your webpage. First of all let me congratulate u on doin a fab job on ur website. It rocks!!.
Well the thing is that, I have a P3 500MHZ with 196MB RAM and i440ZX motherboard. I am looking to upgrade my machine, and the current prices of P4s arent too high in India. But I thot y not go in for a dual processor machine instead.
I am currently working and as such the PC at home would be not off too much technical use, rather I wanted to develop a GAMING and MUSIC Workstation. Top of the line for GAMING. But as far as I kno, I think dual processor machines and Games dont go hand in hand, or do they?
Also is the capability of 2 P3s a match for a P4 HT?
Or should I go for a P4 instead?
Also do all versions of Windows support Dual Processor machines - I dont think so?
These are few of the questions I would like you to answer, and another main question, you have a gr8 digital camera, with amazing picture clarity especially in black and white, could you please enlighten me about which exact model it is.
Thanks a lot! In advance
and a Happy New Year,

namitsaksena at

Challenge by Zain on April 12, 12:37

I was wondering the same thing as the last guy. I was researching about dual processor computers. I'm thinkin about building one and I wanted to get more knowledge on it. I would mainly use the system for gaming. I'm a beginner in web design and programming so i would also be using the system for running applications like photoshop and flash. Do you think it is smart to go with a dual processor system?

Challenge by Shahid Mahmood on October 01, 11:55

I am using Oracle Database and have to develop softwares for that. Should I go for p4 or a dual processor machine like p3 with two processors of 733MHz each.