"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943
Watson's famous, though possibly apocryphal, aphorism, leads one to wonder just exactly how much power can reasonably fit into a single desktop PC. A blazingly fast, single-core processor, such as the 3.73-GHz Pentium Extreme Edition 965? Sure. A hot dual core from AMD or Intel? Absolutely.
What about a quad-core CPU? Though there are at least seven desktop quads to choose from (and more coming when AMD ships its Phenom quad later this year, four CPUs on the floor isn't exactly mainstream yet. Indeed, some have questioned whether any desktop really needs the power supplied by four cores chugging away.
That's what I was wondering when Intel supplied me with a test unit of its fastest CPU ever: The 3.0-GHz, Core 2 Extreme QX6850.
One thing the project resolved for me: If there were ever any questions about why one might need four processors on the desktop, they've been removed. This processor is a screamer; it's the only chip I've encountered recently -- dual cores included -- which can run a bloated modern Internet security program without the slightest noticeable delay in anything else you throw at it.