Dual Processor Computers

Does anybody out there have a dual processor computer? I’m considering buying one early next year (mainly for use with Adobe Photoshop). Are there any other programs available that take advantage of dual processors? Thanks for any info you can provide.

I use (not all the time) Adobe Photoshop 6.0, Adobe Illustrator 9.0 and other programs (all at the same time) on my Pent III 600 MHz with 256 MB RAM with little problem even while on Win98 which is a memory hog.

The only reason I can see anyone using a dual processor is for server purposes. I had one computer that was server quality at my client’s office that only had one processor and used some TOTL (top of the line) CAD software. They have a server that is dual processor with 1 GIG of RAM and even with 40 users (some on Terminal Server) they rarely see any type of slowdown – it’s a dual 550 Xeon processor. They have two other servers got that’s not the point.

I say, get a server quality computer with a high end graphics card and forego the dual processor. RAM is where you really get the advantage and RAM is el cheapo these days.

First, your operating system needs to support dual processors. The win 95, 98, ME line does not. Win2k Pro will support 2.

And then, to see any benefit, you’ll need to have programs specifically geared to using them.

So I’d suggest… if you’re not using a program extensively that can really use them, just stick with one really nice CPU.

I’ve been told by a few others that a good video card and lots of ram are all that I need. Is there such a thing as too much ram? I’ve read somewhere that over 512 Mb of ram in Windows is overkill and doesn’t really help improve performance. Kind of like putting a 455 engine in a MG Midget.


Assuming that RAM stays cheap, you can easily put 512 in there but I am not sure if you will see any immediate benefits unless you are taxing the hell out of the system.

I would say this.

Get the best you can afford but don’t go overboard. A single processor with 256 MB RAM with a high end graphics card and a fast and fat hard drive are what you need to focus on.

You can always add RAM later if you choose.

Thanks for the help.

If you are running any Windows operating system in the NT family (including 2000 and XP), or Mac OS X, you can take advantage of multi-processor boxes. I’ve had a dual processor workstation as my home PC since 1997. Note that with a Mac, you’ll probably have to be running an OS X specific version of your software, or you won’t get much of a benefit from multiple processors.

RAM is dirt cheap right now, and there is no reason to skimp. I just bought a new system for the 3D graphic artist at our company: dual 1 GHz processors, 1 GB RAM, 72 GB SCSI hard drive, 32 MB Oxygen video card.

Two important things to note: while a high end video card is important, dual processors and a SCSI hard drive will make a far more dramatic difference. My dual Xeon 450 MHz workstation with an Ultra2-wide SCSI hard drive still outpeforms my 900 MHz IDE drive equipped PC for graphics heavy work.

XP Pro or XP Pro Corporate versions only. XP Home will not do multi processor

Speaking as a developer, I would suggest that a medium speed dual CPU on NT/W2K is preferrable to a high speed single CPU for doing software development work. With lots of RAM.

The advantage was not from an application which took specific advantage of the dual processor, but in the behaviour when performing tasks like massive compiles. Compilations brought single CPU boxes to their knees, but the dual CPU machine allowed you to do something like read your mail while the compile was going on without the mailer slowing to a crawl. You could bring up the task monitor, and verify that the compiler had one CPU pegged, while the other was idling along. Remarks applicable to both C++ and java compilations, using MSDev and Visual Cafe.

If you are doing something like that - you do some compute-intensive background task and wish to do other things while it’s going on, the dual CPU might be a big advantage. If you primarily focus on working interactively with a particular application, it’s a question of whether that application takes advantage of multiple processors.

True 'nuff. I run Pro at home, so I wasn’t thinking about that limitation. Thanks for the clarification.

And yabob, everything you said makes sense (and I agree with; that’s the philosophy I follow for my developers, having been one myself for 17 years). benlormat was talking about using it for mainly Photoshop, which led to my comments about our graphic designer.

Does Photoshop support dual processors & those OS’s?

Not sure if Photoshop even supports dual processors but these are the minimum requirements (although very slow) for Photoshop 6.0.

BTW, I did run Photoshop 5.0 on my old Pent 233 MMX with only 64 MB RAM, the hard drives are standard IDE at 5200 rpm. I think my video card in that machine is a VooDoo 3000 (with 16 MB RAM.) I don’t recall the video card, it’s been sitting in my office since last year with it’s case removed and one of the hard drives ripped out and put into this machine.

With the newer bus on motherboards (mine is at 100 MHz I believe and they are higher now at 200 MHz?) combined with a 7200 rpm HD and a killer video card, you have one sweet system. SCSI hard drives are not that much faster.

I honestly believe that most people over-buy anyway when selecting components for their systems. I could have spent more money and gotten a better computer but I took into consideration that with the money I saved, I can always upgrade if I have to and buy some apps that I might not have purchased (aka virus protection.)

It’s like buying a car, why buy an Acura that kicks ass, has all the bells and whistles if you rarely drive anywhere but to work or the store? Go buy a Honda, just as good but economical and even if you do take it on the highway, it still gets you to and from safely with a decent ride. You can always put a killer stereo in a Honda, or put on some high performance tires and still get a nice ride for about half the money. (and it’s made by the same company anyway.)

On Windows, almost all 32-bit applications (i.e. almost everything written in the last 6+ years) will benefit from multiple processors to some extent.

On Apple’s, prior to Mac OS X, the situation was a little murkier. Mac OS used to be a cooperative multitasking system (the same as Windows 3.x), and applications had to be specially written to take advantage of multiple processors. Now that Mac OS is based on a UNIX kernel, support for multiple processors is part of the package. However, applications that run in Mac OS X’s Classic mode (for pre-OS X programs) won’t necessarily be able to take advantage.

Photoshop does indeed use dual processors. Has for many years. Even on Mac (although not to nearly as much advantage as on Win).

Cerowyn, I’d contend that the days of needing Ultra-SCSI (or SCSI-anything) are over. ATA-66 or -100 drives & interfaces obviate the need for SCSI except for servers or extreme preformance situations (e.g. editing uncompressed video). I’m using IBM deskstar’s & ATA-66 interfaces, and clock 20+MB/sec transfers (almost 30 on my newest drive!), which is certainly more than good enough for almost any desktop usage.

I’ve used a dual box for years, won’t use anything else, mostly for the reasons that yabob cites: it’s darned near impossible to overrun the machine with tasks. While a compile or render or whatever is furiously chunking away, you still have the use of a whole other CPU, and the machine stays responsive for other work. VERY very nice.

re: OS-X. The dual-CPU support is there, the OS will use it. But almost no OS-X -specific apps have shipped (including Photoshop), so there’s mostly no advantage to using X right now. X’ll be great someday, but some things still need to come together, especially 3d-party support.