Dual Core vs. Dual Processor

The Mother(board) of all Battles! Geoff Pennington, Layered Tech

When browsing through Layered Technologies’ offerings, you’ll see a lot of reference to Dual this and Dual that… but what does it all mean?  Below summarizes what you need to know.  Let’s start with terminology. 

  • Dual Processors means there are 2 physical processors in the machine.

  • Dual Core means there is 1 physical processor with 2 cores in it.  (You can do the math for Quad Core and Quad Processor… more on this later.)

Now that we know the physical difference between the two, let’s get into some specifics.  Primarily these systems are built to perform in the same light.  Multitasking is multitasking, but there are some underlying effects for both.    

  • Dual Processor has RAM and cache space setup for each processor, so if you have a process running on Processor 1, it’s only getting the RAM of Processor 1.  However, if you have your resources beefed up it doesn’t matter, and your system will run more efficiently because the processes are split between processors and not cores (less burnout). 

  • Dual Core machines are the new light for small business owners, as they are slightly cheaper and provide pretty much the same thing.  The major drawback to Dual Core is your putting the stress of the entire system on one physical CPU, which can be pretty tasking for a little chip.  However, a multi-core system has the ability to handle multiple threads separately yet simultaneously.  This makes multi-core systems perfect for multi-threaded applications.

Don’t get me wrong, any of these problems can be remedied by ensuring you have the proper amount of RAM, and you put some time into task scheduling.  Both setups are capable of doing the same things, but its how you configure your system to run efficiently that matters.  That can be on a Dual Processor or a Dual Core.   

Benchmarks: According to the benchmarks run on the AMD Athlon 4400 Dual Core, the AMD Opteron 248 Dual Processor, the Intel Pentium D 830 Dual Core, and the Intel Xeon 3.0 Dual Processor they all run at very comparable standards.  AMD had better resource efficiency, and Intel had better processing power (surprise, surprise).  The overall winner of the tests was the Pentium D, but with a little research you will see that the difference is minimal, and you should really just look at your setup and figure out what configuration would fit best.    

Have more questions?  Comment here or email me at gpennington@layeredtechnologies.com

4 Responses to “Dual Core vs. Dual Processor”


  • I has a PentiumD 3.0 with 2Gb ram; 3 od my friends has Pentium Dual core with simillar amount of ram.
    I noticed that my Pentium D is faster and has better performance if you compare with Dual Cores processors.

    In my country Pentium D is cheaper than Pentium Dual core.
    Also, Looks like Pentium D is not longer available.

    In sumary, I have the impression that Pentium D is much better than Dual Cores.

    Doing same activities, Pentium D always has better performance than those Dual Cores with 2Gb ram.

  • Again its kind of a preference battle, but also depends on what tasks your performing. Dual core and Dual proc each have the same potential its just a matter of how they are used.

    If you need something for a single appliance to just pound for a while, then go with the dual core, if you need something to run multiple appliances over time, then go with a dual proc.

    Make sure if you want to compare processors then be sure to compare all aspects. 3.0 to 3.0 for example. You didn’t specify the speed of the dual proc.

    Thank you for the insight. Personal experience always helps in a discussion, and please keep the comments coming.

  • I like how you explained the two for people. I think alot of people out there are confused by them and instead opt for dual processor, when a dual core would be more than sufficient.

  • Testing and promoting PentiumD 8xx in 2008 series should be considered a crime – it burns too much power and makes too much heat.
    Like you don’t have Core2-based CPU’s there.
    Eduardo Espinoza:
    You must be comparing PentiumD with Pentium E-series (based on Core2 architecture), which are not that comparable: PentiumD had bigger L2 cache memory and tended to run at almost 2x greater speed (the lowest being 1.6GHz for PentiumE-2140 and 2.8GHZ for PentiumD-805). Just compare power rating of over 100Wt for PentiumD and under 65W for Core2-based chips under 2,66GHz. They are MUCH cooler or much more usable if overclocked and still cooler than PentiumD.
    Add air conditioning costs, UPS/power generator costs, multiply by several thousands – and you’ll see why those crappy old chips are getting sold for any money you agree to pat for them.

    To approach the speed of 2.8GHz Pentium4 (PentiumD is dual core Pentium4) you should get around 1.86GHz of Core2-based CPU or over 2,0GHz of Athlon64-based CPU. That is Core2 Duo E6400 2,13GHz often outperforms AthlonX2-4400 and sometimes even X2-4600+ which run at ~2.2-2.3GHz. And that Core2 can be overclocked to 3.2GHz using intel stock cooler and modern Intel-P35 based motherboard and no overvoltage, giving you 6.4GHz of Core2-based power, comparable to some 10GHz of Pentium-4-based CPU’s. Add $160 – and you have a beast with 8GB of DDR2-800 RAM (just never-ever overclock RAM unless you really know what you are doing), capable of running unimaginable before amount of tasks. Provided you have the right 64bit OS and a good BIOS version (the wrong will make you MAD because of strange issues you’ll run into when you have over 3GB of ram). The “right” one for me is FreeBSD-8.0-current/amd64, typically running 4,000-5,000 processes (7.0-release has problems with schedulers for SMP, both of them; Linux has lots of schedulers but it’s hard to decide which is good for your needs).
    I never before ran over 600-800 on AMD Barton-3000 or Athlon-64-3000 with 1GB. So that is a great saving – like 5-6 servers were put into just one, saving lots of administration efforts, and needless to say that it uses a place of one and takes way less power. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    The only thing I don’t like in Layeredtech is they don’t really make a difference between “reliable high-end hardware, with ECC and so on” and consumer-grade hardware, that costs way less (unless it’s scsi drives).
    Years ago 1 gig of ram (DDR-333/DDR-400) costed $100. At LT it costed $25/month. Now 1Gig DDR2-800 costs $20, and still LT charges $25/month. I do understand if such sum is charged for fancy “FB-DIMM ECC”, “anything else with ECC” as they cost just around that $100/1GB but fail to understand whythings that are cheaper don’t get cheaper.
    Another similiar problem is why dual core server with 2GB of ram and 4 drives costs exactly the price of 2 single-core servers with 1GB ram and 2 drives each.
    Something MUST be changed in the heads of managers before it’s too late.

    Billy:
    Modern dual(quad)-processor motherboards are supposed to host two(four) of dual or quad-core processors. But you should keep in mind that even high-end Intel chipsets don’t provide enough memory bandwidth for that setups, making it a major bottleneck for 8 or 16-core servers. So it really depends on tasks that you are using the server for – if it’s plain computing, like encryption or similiar that can run in parallel – you may get 16x speed increase with 16 cores, otherwise don’t go over two or quad cores. With consumer-grade hardwareyou’ll not go over 4 cores anyway ;) .

    In short Intel’s Core2-based dual core CPU’s are a win against dual-processor setups because of unified shared cache between both processors (so that even for single task you may get a benefit from that fact alone), it doesn’t take that much overhead to switch process from one core to another (that’s where dual processor setups are weak), they are more reliable by design – the motherboard is much less complicated
    and there is no such thing as “inter-processor communication issues” that don’t add anything good to reliability of the product.

Comments are currently closed.