A multi-core processor is an integrated circuit (IC) to which two or more processors have been attached for enhanced performance, reduced power consumption, and more efficient simultaneous processing of multiple tasks (see parallel processing). A dual core set-up is somewhat comparable to having multiple, separate processors installed in the same computer, but because the two processors are actually plugged into the same socket, the connection between them is faster. Ideally, a dual core processor is nearly twice as powerful as a single core processor. In practice, performance gains are said to be about fifty percent: a dual core processor is likely to be about one-and-a-half times as powerful as a single core processor.
Multi-core processing is a growing industry trend as single core processors rapidly reach the physical limits of possible complexity and speed. Companies that have produced or are working on multi-core products include AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Intel, and VIA. Both AMD and Intel have announced that they will market dual core processors by 2005. At their 2004 Fall Developer Forum Intel predicted that, excepting their Celeron line, 40% of all processors the company ships will be multi-core by the end of 2006.