Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How many cores does one need?

I haven't upgraded my main computer in about 18 months. It's running a Dual Core Celeron E6600 which is two 2.5 GHz CPUs in one wafer. The computer runs fine. My main computer is the only multi-core desktop computer in the house. Kelli and I each have dual core laptops. My security computer needs an upgrade. The security camera software uses 100% of the CPU 100% of the time. This isn't a major deal as all that computer does is monitor and record video. When I try to log into that computer remotely it is very slow. I am considering a dual core upgrade for it as well. My predicament is to upgrade just that computer to a new CPU/Motherboard alone or upgrade my main computer and move it's motherboard down to the security computer. There are now 4 core CPUs out! I can't imagine most people needing that much power. The multiple cores can only be used if the Operating System and the software being used is designed for them. Most software is not. This means that the Operating System decides which core does what. For example if you had a quad core computer and were running four applications on Windows XP or Vista then each application would be given its own core. Very efficient. If you were playing Microsoft Flight Simulator X on a 4 core system ( Flight Simulator is a very demanding application) it would only use one core. Some new games and Applications are coded to sspread the load over multiple cores thus increasing performance and lowering the load.

There is a $79 Dual Core Pentium CPU and motherboard combo at Fry's that I could throw into the security computer. This is the cheaper route but then I would have to upgrade my main computer later and would spend more money. I could spend $180 for a motherboard combo that would be faster than my main computer and then move it down to the security computer. The $79 Frys special is slower than my main computer. Choices...

I'm writing this from the Cleveland airport. I am supposed to be in Dallas right now. The plane I flew in had a broken APU. The APU provides power, air conditioning and is used to start the engines. Once the engines are started they provide power and air conditioning. Without an APU the plane needs external power and an air cart to provides high pressure air to start the engines (planes don't have an electric starter like a car, high pressure air is used to get the fan blades rotating fast enough to start). Anyways it has been broken since the 23rd. Yesterday was the last day it could be flown broken. For some reason they sent a broken plane to an outstation (Cleveland is not a base for crews or mechanics) and they didn't start working on it until 5:14AM. We were supposed to leave at 7AM. Right now it's 10AM. I will be lucky to leave by 11AM. I have been sitting here since 6:40AM. Fun. NOT!

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