Empire: Total War uses two CPU cores at most
The Windows Vista x64 retail version of the strategy game Empire: Total War only supports one or two cores; therefore triple or quad cores twiddle their thumbs.
We normally play a game before we run benchmarks so that we get first impression about the expected performance and a feeling for the needed FPS in advance. In case of Empire: Total War we had to experience an intermittent stuttering and as soon as several units collided the frame rate dropped down to a third and the stuttering increased considerably - given a Core 2 Quad Q9450 with 2.67 GHz and a Geforce GTX 280 as well as Vista x64 an extreme unusual behavior.
Soon afterwards the task manager disclosed that the engine of Empire: Total War only used two CPU cores, the second of which was even underemployed. The processing power of the third and fourth core lay idle. Only the graphics driver caused some work. In contrast under Windows XP the demo version distributed the tasks equally to the four cores of our Core i7-920 - obviously three cores had threads running. There was no lagging and the frame rate was stable, too. In the additional test of the demo under Vista x64 surprisingly only one or two cores were busy and Empire: Total War suffered from lags again and again. For our performance test we naturally used the same scenario which was the naval battle of Lagos in the year 1759.
We are still checking if the multi-core capability of the Empire engine (AI, rendering and physics are supposed to run in different threads) depends on the operating system or the used processor. However our German colleagues of Gamestar were assured that "mid-year an update will be released that optimizes Empire for multi-core processors”.
Interesting links about Empire: Total War:
- Empire: Total War - Minimal system requirements revealed
- Empire: Total War - Minimal system requirements are official, new release date