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Why does my computer think it is running two processors?

Posted on 2004-10-13
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
Howdy!

I am working on a Dell Precision Workstation 470, running WinXP SP2.  When I look in my Device Manager, it shows two Intel Xeon 3.20GHz CPUs.  When I look in the Performance tab of the Task Manager, it shows me two real-time graphs in the CPU Usage History, and they aren't identical.  When I go to Dell's website, and use the system profiler to tell me what's in my machine, it tells me I have two processors.  

Well, I ordered the machine with only one processor, even though it's a dual processor motherboard.  After all this weirdness, I opened up the case, and guess what?  One processor.  Next to it is an empty slot for a second one.  

What is going on here?

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Question by:bti_admin
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Callandor earned 175 total points
ID: 12302398
What you are seeing is hyperthreading: the cpu idle cycles are used to perform other tasks, and the OS makes it look like another cpu.
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 12302444
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12302471
As Callandor said, it's hyperthreading.  See http://www.intel.com/technology/hyperthread/ for a complete explanation.

If you really find this disturbing, you can disable hyperthreading in the system's BIOS (though that really wouldn't make much sense to do).  

Older Operating Systems (NT and even 2000) can take a performance HIT with this kind of CPU, but XP is hyperthreading aware and should actually perform better with hyperthreading enabled.
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Author Comment

by:bti_admin
ID: 12302497
Thanks, guys.  Does that mean that I have to disable hyperthreading if I want to install a second processor?  Will this require some kind of major OS overhaul?
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 75 total points
ID: 12302507
No, you can have two cpus without a problem.  Your system will just see them as if you had 4 CPUs.
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