From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

A single-core processor is a microprocessor with a single CPU on its die.[1] It performs the fetch-decode-execute cycle one at a time, as it only runs on one thread. A computer using a single core CPU is generally slower than a multi-core system.

Single core processors used to be widespread in desktop computers, but as applications demanded more processing power, the slower speed of single core systems became a detriment to performance. Windows supported single-core processors up until the release of Windows 11, where a dual-core processor is required. [2]

Single core processors are still in use in some niche circumstances. Some older legacy systems like those running antiquated operating systems (e.g. Windows 98) cannot gain any benefit from multi-core processors. Single core processors are also used in hobbyist computers like the Raspberry Pi and Single-board microcontrollers. The production of single-core desktop processors ended in 2013 with the Celeron G470.[3]


The first single core processor was the Intel 4004, which was commercially released on November 15, 1971 by Intel. [4] Since then many improvements have been made to single core processors, going from the 740 kHz of the Intel 4004 to the 2 GHz Celeron G470. [5]


  • Single core processors draw less power than larger, multi-core processors.
  • Single core processors can be made a lot more cheaply than multi core systems, meaning they can be used in embedded systems.


  • Single-core processors are generally outperformed by multi-core processors.
  • Single-core processors are more likely to bottleneck with faster peripheral components, as these components have to wait for the CPU to finish its cycle. [6]
  • Single-core processors lack parallelisation, meaning only one application can run at once. This reduces performance as other processes have to wait for processor time, leading to process starvation. [7]

Increasing parallel trend[edit]


  1. ^ "Single-core definition". Your Dictionary. LoveToKnow. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Windows 11 Minimum Requirements". Find Windows 11 specs, features and computer requirements. Microsoft. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  3. ^ "The last single core CPU..." Andy's Computers. 6 January 2021. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Intel's First Microprocessor". The Story of the Intel 4004. Intel. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Intel Celerton Processor G470 Datasheet". Intel Celeron Processor G470. Intel. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  6. ^ "How To Properly Balance Your Components". What is Bottlenecking?. Intel. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  7. ^ Johnson, Ogundairo; Dinyo, Omosehinmi. "Comparative Analysis of Single-Core and Multi-Core Systems" (PDF). aircconline. International Journal of Computer Science & Information Technology. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  8. ^ Yiu, Joseph; Johnson, Ian. "Multi-core microcontroller design with Cortex-M processors and CoreSight SoC" (PDF). ARM Community. Retrieved 17 March 2022.