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See http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-does-dual-core-and-quad-core-mean-makeuseof-explains/

  1. If you have a single-threaded application running on a 3 GHz quad-core CPU, that application will run at 3 GHz — not 12 GHz. It will use one core and the other three cores will sit idle, waiting for other tasks to perform.
  2. More cores help if you’re looking to do more at once or if you have a multithreaded application that can take advantage of them. For example, if you’re running several virtual machines while encoding video, extracting files, and doing other CPU-demanding things on your computer, an octo-core CPU may be able to keep up while even a quad-core CPU may stumble under such load.