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Cores are something which is related to Hypervisor being used in the openstack setup. If you are using a bare-metal hypervisor such as esxi or KVM(almost bare-metal) then the number of cores the hypervisor gets is equal to the number of cores the physical CPU has( can be checked via command "cat /proc/cpuinfo").

Now the flavor which is used to spawn a Virtual Machine contains a attribute CPU CORES. The number of cores given there in the flavor will be equal to the number of cores given to the Virtual machine.

In case of emulated hypervisors such as qemu, It is not matter of how much cores you give or how much core VM shows as it is all emulated and the VM is running under user-space(i.e just as a simple process )

- Prateek