The article will help people to understand ‘What are Cores and Threads in a Processor?’. In this article, we will explain completely the facts, how cores and threads are working and how to choose them. Let’s Begin!
What are Cores and Threads in a Processor?
Cores and threads are an integral part of the central processing unit (CPU) of a PC. They perform the computing function with the help of other hardware components in the motherboard. Understanding the functions of cores and threads is important to get a deeper insight into the working of a PC.
- Every PC has CPU where all the processes, computations and calculations occur.
- It consists of a Processing Unit, Control unit and Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU). These three are combinedly called as the CPU or Core.
- A PC can have single core or multiple cores.
- Single core means it can handle only one task at a time. This doesn’t provide the users with much performance. Also, multi-tasking is out of the discussion.
- Single core was the earlier trend and users wanted to perform more tasks with the computer.
- So, chip manufacturers started with multi-core processors.
- Multi-cores mean multiple CPUs are added to perform different tasks at a time.
- A dual core processor has 2 CPUs and an Octa core processor has 8 CPUs.
- This doesn’t mean that you need multiple connectors. The cores come in a single die and can be inserted in a single slot.
- Threads are not physical components of the CPU. They are virtual components for the core that helps in dividing a physical core into several logical units called threads.
- These threads are created by the operating system whenever it requires the core to perform a task.
- A single core can have up to 2 threads.
- These threads split the tasks among themselves and provide an efficient and effective functionality.
- Multi-threading is the process of the creating multiple threads in a CPU for performing a task.
- For example, when you load a program, the OS creates two threads where one thread shows you the progress bar and the other thread actually executes the loading.
- Multi-threading process is used to efficiently perform heavy demanding tasks or multiple tasks at the same time.
- This is possible with the simultaneous multi-threading (SMT0 technique which enables the process to take place in a single processor.
- Another technique found by Intel is the Hyper Threading technology where with a single core CPU, the OS finds two logical units or threads which helps in switching between multiple tasks easily.
In a nutshell, Cores are the physical units where the actual processing and computing takes place. Whereas threads are virtual units used by the operating system of the computer to perform multiple tasks efficiently.
Do more cores and threads mean better?
More cores provide better performance. A single-core processor cannot efficiently perform or switch between multiple tasks. This is mainly because it takes a lot of time to communicate with the memory.
But if you are performing a single task on a single-core processor, it can perform faster even without threading. Threads are only useful when there are dedicated cores and multiple tasks involved.
A multi-core processor can handle and perform multi-tasking easily. If it has an equivalent number of threads, it will be efficient.
Therefore, more cores mean better functionality and the usability of more threads depends on the number of dedicated cores available.
Also, if there isn’t any need for multi-tasking, an increased number of threads makes the process slower. Because threading is like a program that has to virtually create a logical unit of the CPU for performing the tasks which are just extra work.
In reality, the number of cores needed and the number of threads needed are dependent on the user. If the user has a program that can make use of all the cores, then a greater number of cores will be useful. If the user requires efficient multi-tasking more threads will be effective.
What happens if you have more cores than threads?
The result purely depends on the task you are going to perform. For intense gaming, having more threads is useful because when the game utilizes all of the cores, having threads will help the system to run in the background for other tasks. So, the number of cores and threads required depends on the task.
How to choose a CPU for a PC?
While choosing a CPU, one should primarily look into how many cores are available in the processor.
There are about two to eight-core processors available in the market today. If the program you are going to run requires all eight cores, then consider buying it. Otherwise, go for a lower core processor which saves money as well as consumes less power.
Then look into the cache memory of the processor. The higher the cache, the faster the CPU is going to perform.
After that look at whether the processor is compatible with the socket on your motherboard. Sometimes certain processors require specific motherboards and slots.
Then consider the clock speed of the processor which tells you how fast it is going to operate.
Finally, you should consider the power consumption mentioned as the thermal design power (TDP).
Cores are the components that make up the CPU primarily. Whereas threads are virtual components that enable us to perform tasks efficiently. The choice of these two is important in order to get the optimum performance for our requirement.