4 Is More Than 2 . . .

(Somewhat affordable) Penryns will be upon us beginning January 20.

OK, the prices aren’t going to be that bad, but there’s no point in wasting money, especially if you don’t have a ton to spend to begin with.

Most attention, too much attention, has been focused on quad-core processors. Yet if you asked most people why they wanted/needed a quadcore, their answer would boil down to “Because 4 is more than 2.”

This isn’t a very good reason. If some auto maker began offering two engines in their cars rather than one, would that be an auto buy, too?

In both cases, you ought to have a real answer to the question, “What good does it do me?” before you buy.

When the Penryn quads show up, I’ll put together a system containing one shortly thereafter for someone. He’s going to use the system for professional audio editing. He wants four cores, in fact, he’s looking enviously at eight-core systems.

But at least his main program is designed to use up to eight cores, so it’s not a matter of blind faith.

Now if you use programs that really take advantage of four cores (and I don’t mean benchmark programs), then God bless you and go for it.

But if you buy four cores on a hope and a prayer that someday, somehow, it might do you some good, you’ve likely made a $100 charitable contribution to either AMD or Intel, a $100 you could have spent making a non-charitable contribution to the GPU or memory maker of your choice.

Quads are not going to become mainstream in 2008. Intel’s roadmaps show Yorkfields very quickly replacing Kentfields, but the proportion of quads in Intel’s total production will barely change, going from about 5% now to 7% a year from now.

Overclockers ought to also keep in mind that there’s a pretty good chance a Wolfdale dual-core will overclock a bit more than a Yorkfield due to heat, if nothing else, especially in cooling-limited conditions.

Those with a bit more patience and willingness to give up a little performance for less cash outlay may find the Wolfdale E5000 series coming around April to their liking.

None of this is to say that quads are always a waste of money, that would be as silly as saying that they never would be. If you have a reason to buy a quad, certainly do so.

But before you buy, get yourself a reason, not a rationalization.


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