CPU cores vs Threads – Differences Explained in Simple Words

CPU cores vs Threads – In the old days, the high “clock frequency” was important regarding CPU performance. However, for recent CPUs, the generation, number of cores, and number of threads have a more significant impact on CPU temp and performance.

The number of cores and threads a CPU contains are integral factors that must be considered when making comparisons – but not everyone knows what these figures refer to or why they’re so significant. To simplify things for you today, I will explain the means and the differences between CPU cores and threads in simple terms!

CPU cores vs Threads

What the Processor’s Core Are?

A processor core is a single execution unit inside the CPU. It can handle one task at a time and contains all the essential parts of the CPU necessary to perform that task: fetching instructions from memory, executing those instructions, and writing back any data or results. The number of cores determines how many tasks can be completed simultaneously on the same processor.

Why do More Cores Improve Performance?

Why do dual or multi core CPUs perform better than single or lower-core ones? Is it true that the more cores a CPU has, the better it is?

Let’s consider a single core; only one brain can do the job; therefore, while there was little software to use, such as “Windows only,” one core was enough. Also, the old Windows XP ran with very little memory and CPU performance, so other apps still run with Windows XP.

However, since Windows Vista, the required processing performance has increased greatly, and naturally, the single core cannot keep up with the demanding processes. As a result, the operation of the PC became heavy. Rather than relying on one single core processor for multiple functions. Multi-core like dual core, quad core, hexa core, octa core, etc introduced into a singe CPU chip installed on CPU socket on motherboard.

The multi-core assigns workloads among multiple cores to increase system performance and expedite processes.

By increasing the number of brains that can work, the number of tasks that can be done simultaneously has increased. It’s hard for a single person (single-core) to do 4 jobs (Windows/Excel/Chrome/Text); however, when there are 4 people (quad-core), it becomes much more manageable. This is why using “multi-core” has significantly improved CPUs’ capability towards performance.

Quantity work is all about the Number of Cores – For computationally intensive tasks, the more cores, the better. For example, video encoding is a typical example, and for functions such as rendering and physical calculation simulation, many cores lead to performance improvement. That is why six core is minimum suggested for editing and rendering but not quad core chip which is fine for gaming.

Reference: How to read multicore

  • 1 core: single core
  • 2 core: dual core
  • 3 core: triple core
  • 4 core: quad core
  • 6 core: hexacore
  • 8 core: octacoa
  • 10 core: decacore
  • 12: dodecacore
  • 14: tetradecacore
  • 16: hexadeca-core
  • 18: Octadeca-core

What are the Processor’s Thread, its Role, and how it is Related to Cores?

Threads are not physical parts of processors. Instead, they serve as a control flow for programs and allow managing the tasks of a processor efficiently. Through threading, individual processes can be broken down into smaller parts to reduce waiting times on each step within the process queue – ultimately improving efficiency!

To explain in simple terms, if I have a 2-core processor running at 3GHz, the total speed is 6GHz across the four cores. But if, in addition to the 4 processing cores at 3GHz, each of these cores contains 2 threads, I will still have 6GHz of processing, but my response time can improve significantly since one core will be able to process a task faster by splitting its execution between into 2 threads, instead of just executing one after another. Thus allocating more power and resources to this configuration will result in improved efficiency and an increased overall clock rate of 12GHz.

Below is the image describing the CPU cores vs Threads – Difference

CPU Cores vs Threads - Performance Difference Chart

In a nutshell, the cores are individual processors within a chip that process two tasks simultaneously (even though one task is technically being processed at any given moment). The threads then divide each core’s power in half; thus, instead of processing one complete task per core, they resemble running two simultaneous tasks on each – essentially like executing two functions for every core rather than just one.

Although 2 threads will never be as fast as 2 actual physical cores, they help make the existing cores much more adept at executing tasks.

More threads allow us to run multiple applications simultaneously: work with documents, listen to music, browsing. Moreover, each program will work efficiently and quickly without crashing and freezing.

Should you assume More Performance with More Threads? And in Gaming?

The virtual division of the processing power of the processor into threads is also called hyperthreading. And thus, this is not a physical increase in the number of cores, therefore, the computing potential of the processor remains unchanged.

Therefore, doubling the number of threads can only increase the processor’s efficiency (as described in the above image) by performing multiple tasks simultaneously on each core – an advantage that becomes much more significant during gaming, where many processes are needed to perform quickly.

Multithreading Technology

Intel CPU is “HTT,” which stands for Hyper-Threading Technology. AMD CPUs implement SMT, which stands for Simultaneous Multithreading.

  • Intel CPU: HTTP
  • AMD CPU: SMT (Ryzen series or later)

HTT and SMT are the same technology, with different names.

What is the Clock Frequency? Where it Stands?

The CPU clock indicates the number of instructions that can be processed in one second and is expressed in units of Hz (Hertz). In the past, when CPUs had one core only, this number represented how well it would run. Today, with multi-core technology, relying on clock speed alone is insufficient to determine total CPU output.

For example, a CPU with four cores at 2 GHz can process instructions more efficiently than a CPU with two cores at 3 GHz. While the clock speed number indicates overall performance, this alone does not necessarily represent high performance.

Final Words

When assessing the performance of the CPU, you can judge the approximate performance by looking at the number of cores vs threads, and the number of clocks. Other factors determine the difference in CPU performance, but there is no doubt that these three are the significant points that indicate CPU performance.

Anyway, I know this topic “CPU cores vs Threads” is dense and tricky to understand, so I’ve tried to explain it to you as best as possible, so I hope you liked this explanation. It helped you, but if you still have any doubts, which is likely due to the complexity of this topic, feel free to use a comment for a response.

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