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Ask Max: Core 2 or Core Duo

Asked on 04/25/2007:

What is the big difference between the Core Duo and the Core 2 Duo chips, and would I see a significant performance difference on a MacBook running Photoshop CS3?


The comical answer to "What is the difference between a Core Duo and a Core 2 Duo?" is... "About 100 bucks." The reality is that the difference between both processor architectures is efficiency and data bit size. The Core Duo is a 32-bit, two core processor. The Core 2 Duo is a 64-bit, two core processor. Most programs you use do not utilize the double bit size of the 64-bit processors. Photoshop CS 3, although it could benefit from 64-bit processing, does not use 64-bit instructions. Someday Adobe plans on adding support for full 64-bit processing, but for now it will run Photoshop at 32-bits.

The efficiency aspect of Core 2 Duo processors adds some performance increases per clock cycle. A Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz computer would run a little less than 10% faster than a Core Duo 2.0 GHz computer. The real advantage of the Core 2 Duo efficiency is in power consumption. The Core 2 Duo chips run cooler and draw less power then the Core Duo processors, leading to better battery life on laptops.

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