A core is an individual processor within a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and is often referred to as the brain of a CPU. A CPU can include a single-core processor or a processor with multiple cores. These multi-cores can either operate individually or work together to perform different operations simultaneously.
Modern CPUs often include multiple processing cores, which work together to process instructions. While these "cores" are contained in one physical unit, they are actually individual processors. In fact, if you view your computer's performance with a system monitoring utility like Windows Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac OS X), you will see separate graphs for each processor. Processors that include two cores are called dual-core processors, while those with four cores are called quad-core processors. Some high-end workstations contain multiple CPUs with multiple cores, allowing a single machine to have eight, twelve, or even more processing cores. A computer may have one or more cores to perform tasks at a given time. These tasks are usually software processes and threads that the operating system schedules.
A core retrieves and processes instructions given by an operating system. While a single-core CPU executes one instruction at one time, a dual-core CPU works like two CPUs and runs individual instructions of both simultaneously.
A single-core processor worked well in one CPU for many years, and then it became essential to increase the system's processing speed to meet the advanced market requirements. Although putting multiple processors in a CPU enhanced its processing speed effectively, it was significantly expensive. As a resolution, the CPU manufacturers came out with multi-core processors, where one processor constituted of more than one core.
The inclusion of multi-cores in CPUs started in the early 2000s with high-end computers and soon became a requisite of almost all types of computers for the following reasons:
- Multiple cores in a processor enable multi-tasking
- They make processor highly compatible with multi-threading applications
- They process more data at a lower energy consumption
- Multi-cores allow simultaneous execution of various complex operations, like scanning a virus, watching a video, etc.
- The availability of all cores of processors in a single-chip reduces travel time for data, thereby increasing the processing speed.
The number of cores in a processor varies as per the system requirements. Based on the number of cores present within a processor, some of the most commonly known types of processors are Dual-core processor (a processor with two cores), Quad-core processor (a processor with four cores), Hexa-core processor (a processor with six cores), an Ota-core processor (a processor with eight cores).
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