I don’t know what I’d ever do with six cores but the option will be available to you, me, and everyone else by the end of the year. I actually think a six-core chip would be cool but there’s not much run-of-the-mill software out there that’d take advantage of all that simultaneous processing, unless I want to switch careers and become a CAD designer or work on Shrek 6 or whatever number they’re on now.
The chip is currently known as “Dunnington” and will feature six cores and 16MB of L3 cache. Will it be worth it to most people? Probably not. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan says,
“Intel is trying to make you drool. One issue: None of us have seen the power of multi-threading in a software application we use every day. There’s no ‘I gotta have it’ moment. Maybe Microsoft will figure something out, but by most accounts the company is just starting to get its head around multi-threaded apps. In the meantime, running Office faster isn’t much of a sales pitch.”
In my opinion, the most important part of that quote is the whole “Maybe Microsoft will figure something out” thing. I remember buying a 64-bit AMD chip some years back — paying quite a premium — and thinking that I’d eventually use it to run the 64-bit version of Windows XP only to come to find out that the 64-bit edition was far less stable than the 32-bit edition and only a few programs even used the 64-bit executions and the performance increase over the 32-bit version wasn’t significant enough to put up with all the trouble. Everywhere I looked, people were saying “Just go with the 32-bit version. It’s not worth it otherwise.”
I know the 32-bit versus 64-bit argument isn’t quite the same as the 2-core versus 4-core versus 6-core argument but it just shows that the CPU you use only matters if the software on your rig can take advantage of it.