Athlon Dual Core and Ubuntu... problems or warnings?

Tristan Wibberley maihem at
Thu Mar 16 23:33:22 UTC 2006

Dave M G wrote:
> Ubuntu Users,
> I am purchasing a new computer that will be an Ubuntu Linux box. The 
> store that I am purchasing from has a decent price on Athlon 64 dual 
> core CPUs. It's still a little more than the Pentium 4 which is my 
> original choice of CPU.
>  From my understanding, 64 bit may not be all that useful, as all my 
> applications probably don't take any advantage of it.

OpenOffice is, AFAIK, the only application shipped with Ubuntu that 
doesn't take advantage of the extended instruction set of the AMD64 
platform. The others will all have been compiled specifically for AMD64 
which gives a very minor speed increase for most applications. 
Currently, media applications don't take the special advantage that they 
could do, but you will gain that advantage automatically when they are 
enhanced only if you install 64 bit (and that is expected to be a *big* 
advantage when it comes). Unfortunately, most of the closed source 
applications for Linux don't support 64 bit, though they can mostly be 
made to work in 32 bit mode - except firefox plugins won't work unless 
they are 64bit native.

Nearly all the software in Ubuntu has been made to derive *some* 
advantage. It is mostly only Windows applications that lag behind - and 
multimedia applications.

> But dual core should provide a noticable boost in performance, shouldn't 
> it?

For most workloads, you are slower than your computer by far, for those 
where you find yourself waiting for processing to complete, the 
processing is normally written to only take advantage of one (and in 
some of those cases, won't ever be made to take advantage of two). Some 
programs will take advantage of multiple processors where they can.

In all cases where you are trying to do something else while a slow 
process is computing, you will see the computation run quicker *and* get 
a much snappier desktop than if you had only one core. So yes, dual core 
is a good thing, though it might be an inefficient use of funds for some 
users. You may get a slightly snappier desktop all the time, I'm not sure.

Tristan Wibberley

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