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Am I wasting my CPU on XP?

May 30, 2010 at 11:24:55
Specs: Windows XP, Core i7 920
I have XP installed on a PC with a core i7 920 CPU.

In the task manager / performance window it's showing 8 (virtual?) cpu's. When I'm doing something very cpu intensive one of these CPU's will max out but the other 7 just sit there. Overall it's saying the CPU is 13%.

Now while it's good that an errant application can't hang the whole machine by taking 100% cpu it seems a bit annoying that when I want an application to be processing stuff it only ever uses a maximum of 13% of the CPU.

Is there something I should have set to make XP recognise the other virtual cpu's? Or is the CPU just wasted on XP and I need another OS (WIN7) to take advantage of the CPU?

Also, if XP is only using 13% of the CPU then could my PC actually be running slower than with the previous CPU which I replaced (can't remember what it was, but at least it used 100% of it!)

Or am I just misunderstanding what the taskman is telling me...?

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May 30, 2010 at 15:34:44
I don't know the technology in any detail, but it is entirely possible that since the core 7i came out after XP was discontinued and uses newer multicore and multi threading technology, that XP cannot use the processor to it's fullest potential. Intel might have a memo on this processor and XP on their site. I assume that you would have to have a modern Motherboard in order to support the processor, so it cannot be there.

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May 30, 2010 at 20:08:45
XP can indeed use multiple cores efficiently, and that includes even the most modern CPU's. It is not quite as good as Vista or Windows 7 but few applications will show much difference. XP isn't the problem, it is the applications. The fact of the matter is that there are very few applications that can really make use of 4 cores, let alone 8. There are some, but not many.

Writing software that really takes advantage of multiple cores is very difficult. And there are many application types that do not lend themselves to the use of multiple cores. Having more cores will help performance, but with most applications the point of diminishing returns will be about 2. And a great deal of that will be in system responsiveness, not measurable performance. The situation is very different for a busy server.

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May 31, 2010 at 13:03:50
The problem is rather complex. As above, xp can or could support multiple cores. One of the issues is how drivers are written. They'd have to support the multiple cores/procesors Sadly very few applications today can offer support for such a processor.

Then there is the issue of ram.

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