What Is Quad Core?

By Casey Quinn

Quad Core refers to a type of computer processor that incorporates four individual cores. Each core works independently to perform the instructions generated by software applications. Computers that contain a quad-core processor theoretically perform faster than those with just a single-core processor.


Quad-core processors are available in two different types. Multi-chip design was the first type of quad-core processor to debut. Each core is contained on a separate die in a multi-chip design and then packaged as a single unit to create a quad-core processor. Monolithic quad-core processors feature all four cores on a single die. Some quad-core processors are created by packaging two monolithic dual-core processors together.


Processors that have quad cores can execute four different instructions simultaneously. Computers that have a quad-core processor are expected to outperform those with dual or single-core processors. Quad-core processors are best suited for users that run multiple applications at the same time. Software applications that work well in this type of processing environment include firewalls, anti-virus, graphics tools, audio and games.


Not all software applications are designed to take advantage of quad-core processor capabilities. If most of the software you use has been designed to function with single-core processors, you may not notice much of a performance increase when switching to a quad-core processor. Applications that are designed to run tasks simultaneously will be able execute these though the individual cores in the processor.


Computers that contain quad-core processors provide a number of benefits to their users. Quad-core processors consume less power when compared to the power consumption of four single-core processors. Monolithic quad-core processors are connected on the same die, which means data has to travel a shorter distance before it is processed. Users may notice a performance boost as a result of the monolithic design.


Quad-core processors are assigned a speed that signifies how fast they can compute data. It is a misconception that this speed can be multiplied by the number of cores in the processor to determine its effective speed. There is also a misconception that the speed of a quad-core processor can be divided to determine the actual speed of each individual core. If a computer contains a 3.0 GHz quad-core processor, each core runs at 3.0 GHz.

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