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  1. #1

    sevenhelmet's Avatar
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    Post Multiple Processor Utilization...?
    Hello all,

    I am not a particularly new Mac user, and would consider myself fairly well-versed in the world of Macintosh and computers in general. However, one subject I am hazy on is the utilization of multiple processors especially in the Powermac line. Here are some things I would like to know more about:

    1.) What programs utilize both of my powermac's processors?

    2.) Do programs have to be specially written to use more than one processor, or does the computer automatically split tasks in a "division of labor" between procs when it requires more crunching power?

    3.) If programs have to be specifically written to take advantage of a certain # of processors, why would having a quad-core powermac make any difference to how most everyday applications run? (Since most computers have only 1 or 2 processors, do programmers bother to design for more?)

    4.) Aside from lower power consumption, what are the differences in having 2 cores on one chip vs. 2 single core chips?

    5.) What are some good sources to get practical information on this without getting terribly bogged down in jargon and programmers' code?


    I've pretty much discovered that I know almost nothing about how my computer utilizes both of its processors (I've noticed that the proc fans often run at different speeds, possibly indicating that the processor use is unequal.) I do know that having 2 processors is better than 1, but I often wonder how much better, and for what type of applications- games, multitasking, media apps, video/audio editing, rendering, etc...

    The quad-core is really expensive... would it really speed up EVERYTHING to have one, or just help out a couple of specific programs?

    Even if all you do is post a link to an informative source, I'd appreciate it. This seems to me to be a subject that many people don't fully understand, even some of us who use these multi-core monsters. :spook:
    "Luck favors the prepared"

  2. #2


    Member Since
    Mar 04, 2006
    Posts
    230
    I dont know much, but I do know something. Programs don't have to be written to use both processors. Lets say in iMove you are rendering something, but also want to continue working. I think one processor does one thing and the other does the other.
    Basically the computer splits up the processing to waht you are doing. If you arnt doing high intensity multitasking then 2 processors, or especially 4 is going to be worthless. But for graphics designers, movie makers, 3D artists, and alike who are often switching between multiple processor intensive tasks, 4 processors are going to really speed things up.

  3. #3
    Kokopelli
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet
    Hello all,

    I am not a particularly new Mac user, and would consider myself fairly well-versed in the world of Macintosh and computers in general. However, one subject I am hazy on is the utilization of multiple processors especially in the Powermac line. Here are some things I would like to know more about:

    1.) What programs utilize both of my powermac's processors?
    That is hard to say. Multi-threaded Apps in general though. Most "consumer" apps are single threaded. Multi threading apps increases the complexity with little benefit historically since multi processor machines were not terribly common. More and more coders are threading their apps to take advantage of multicore systems, but it is still a matter of the application as to whether it will do much good.
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet
    2.) Do programs have to be specially written to use more than one processor, or does the computer automatically split tasks in a "division of labor" between procs when it requires more crunching power?
    All programs will get a small boost from multiple processors. However programs written with it in mind will get a lot more out of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet
    3.) If programs have to be specifically written to take advantage of a certain # of processors, why would having a quad-core powermac make any difference to how most everyday applications run? (Since most computers have only 1 or 2 processors, do programmers bother to design for more?)
    It depends on what you mean by everyday application, but to use a quad processor machine for browsing and word processing would be a questionable use of money.

    If you are doing very heavy image manipulation, rendering, working on editing movies, or doing multiple processor intensive things at once, it will help more. I would argue that a quad core box is in the realm of professional needs, not consumer, but many will disagree with me there.
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet

    4.) Aside from lower power consumption, what are the differences in having 2 cores on one chip vs. 2 single core chips?
    This is a very technical question, but the simple answer is communication between cores is faster.
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet

    5.) What are some good sources to get practical information on this without getting terribly bogged down in jargon and programmers' code?
    Not that I know of.
    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhelmet


    I've pretty much discovered that I know almost nothing about how my computer utilizes both of its processors (I've noticed that the proc fans often run at different speeds, possibly indicating that the processor use is unequal.) I do know that having 2 processors is better than 1, but I often wonder how much better, and for what type of applications- games, multitasking, media apps, video/audio editing, rendering, etc...

    The quad-core is really expensive... would it really speed up EVERYTHING to have one, or just help out a couple of specific programs?

    Even if all you do is post a link to an informative source, I'd appreciate it. This seems to me to be a subject that many people don't fully understand, even some of us who use these multi-core monsters. :spook:
    I think of things in terms of coding and how multiple processors effect how I code things. So I am not sure that I am the right person to try and explain in non-technical terms.

  4. #4

    sevenhelmet's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 12, 2005
    Location
    Ridgecrest, CA
    Posts
    555
    Specs:
    rMBP (Mid-2015), 2.8 Ghz i7, 16GB DDR3, AMD M370X Gfx, 1 TB SSD
    Thanks for the responses! Yes, it seems as though the Quad would be overkill unless you have a business where time is money and speed in rendering/production is really critical.

    I'm not a programmer, but I do understand some of the basic premises of coding- I've had courses in digital electronics and I do have an engineering degree. But I was mainly concerned that because I multitask a lot, (rather than doing mass amounts of rendering,) that my computer was getting bored with me. But it sounds like I am using my computer's capabilities pretty well.
    "Luck favors the prepared"

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