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2013 Mac Pro: How Many CPU Cores for Your Workflow?

I’ve been doing some research on how well CPU cores are used in the latest Adobe Photoshop CC and I’m pleased to report that some old rules can now be forgotten: I am seeing that 12 cores handily outperform 8 cores or 6 cores even on common tasks like Smart Sharpen.

Update: this turns out to be incorrect: higher CPU utilization can also mean synchronization overhead or memory bandwidth limitations. Photoshop quickly runs into non-scalability issues beyond 6 cores.

I’ve pre-tested on my current 12-core 3.33 GHz Mac Pro by disabling CPU cores from scheduling, in order to directly compare on the same machine.

In the next few weeks I’ll be doing an all-new investigation of the use of CPU cores in Photoshop in particular.

Choose the best number of CPU cores for your actual work.

2013 Mac Pro: How Many CPU Cores for Your Workflow?

Maybe some day Apple will let us show real CPU cores (12 here) instead of virtual cores (24 here), because it’s a darn mess. There ought to be several views: all virtual cores (24 rows), real cores + virtual together (12 rows), and similar. I'd also like to see an average and peak figure next to each core.


12-core 2010 Mac Pro
(running Topaz InFocus)
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