Coming back from the dead a little as far as performance benchmarks are concerned, the new dual-core 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 840 processor from Intel appears to have done well in PC World's WorldBench 5 tests in key multimedia and multitasking tests.

The new system truly showed its mettle in certain applications within WorldBench 5 -- namely the Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator, Windows Media Encoder and our multitasking test. It was most impressive in the Windows Media Encoder test, where it shaved 2 minutes off the 3.4-GHz P4 system's time of 7 minutes, 41 seconds, and it was 15 seconds faster than a top-scoring Athlon 64 FX-55-based PC (which earned a WorldBench 5 score of 125).

However, it seems clear that users looking for improvements in single-threaded applications, such as most office applications and games, will gain little from an upgrade to this processor.

Don't expect dual-core systems to be the top performer for demanding single-threaded applications such as most games -- at least not this year. By year's end, though, Unreal Tournament should have released its third game engine, which will likely take advantage of dual-core processing, and most console games, from Xbox to PlayStation, will be going dual-core or even multicore in upcoming generations.