Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do You Need A Quad-Core Laptop?

Macrumors is reporting the availability of the quad-core laptops later next month.  Reporting on Laptop Mag, quad-core will appear on high end laptops.

Now, if you're like me who tends to keep his laptop beyond the two to three year upgrade cycle, future-proofing our mobile devices is a natural consideration when it comes to purchasing decisions.

This is what Onxo is seeing as far as future platforms are concerned.  It seems to be an upgrade cycle around 2010 where chips will exhibit more radical designs such as graphic functions integrated directly onto the CPU and higher effiency through a variety of power-saving features like shutting down parts of the system.  One of the future efficiency feature of Intel's future mobile platform includes shutting core that are not being utilized.

Any quad-core solutions this year will be very expensive and offers few day-to-day advantages.  If a software does not fully support multi-core processors, we won't see an advantage.  You can go to any websites that run benchmarks that show higher frequency CPUs beat out lower frequency CPUs with double the cores.  

Future-proofing is a great consideration but based on what I'm seeing, I'll likely stick with a dual-core system.  Furthermore, with Apple's Snow Leopard optimized for multi-core computing about a year away still and parallel processing solutions, though promising, isn't ready for majority of consumers, there is no need for us to even think that far.  

Windows 7 development also has an eye towards parallel processing.  That is still a couple of years if not more away.  

For now, there are great deals with the Santa Rosa platform and in the current economic condition we're in, competition could be fierce for our dollars.  

So, what about those who has a two or three year old laptop?  It's a difficult call.  Again, there are great deals today but I've personally been using a 5-year old Powerbook.  My Mac Mini is going on 3 years.  If you can still it out another year, that would be my recommendation.

Meanwhile there are many ways you can refresh your current system.  Two quickly comes to mind.  Add more memory if you haven't already.  Also, you can optimize your system by doing a clean install of the OS.  This should hold you over for a while longer.

Note:  Quad-core chips are nice to have and are definitely the direction we're headed.  It'll be expensive so you'll have to see if you have immediately needs for it now.

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