With the probable release date of ArcGIS 10 announced (June 21 to Partners, June 28 to everyone on maintenance and, I assume, new purchases) you may be wondering if your computer has what it takes to handle the latest and greatest. Well, ESRI (or should it be esri now…I should check on that) has provided us with a list of supported operating systems and hardware recommendations to help us plan our end of year budget spend downs and first of the budget year hardware refreshes. The upshot is if you have a computer running Windows XP or above with the latest service pack, and that was built in the last 10 years, you should be golden. Minimum CPU is a 2.2 Ghz and minimum memory is 2 GB.
As with previous versions you can run ArcGIS 10 on a multicore/multiprocessor machine but most of the application and extensions are not written to be multithreaded. This does not mean that your use or ArcGIS will not take advantage of multiple cores since each geoprocess service runs as a new thread, if you have multiple ArcMap windows open each will be a separate thread, if you are running ArcMap and ArcScene you will have two threads…in other words you should have at least a fast dual-core machine especially if you have ArcMap open, a browser (with 73 tabs open), a twitter app, music player, and email. With quadcore i7 processors you get multiple cores that also offers a boost mode which can take unused cycles from other cores to boost speed for a thread that needs extra oomph. If you are looking at an everyday GIS use machine I would definitely look at an i7 if you are buying Intel.