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Something I've never understood about parallel programming/operating systems is how a computer can use less than 100% of its processing power. (This is probably due to the fact that my college OS course was dreadful.)

Asking this question doesn't fit on Stack Overflow (I don't think), because it doesn't fit the "how do I do/fix this?" specificity guideline/requirement. My question isn't open-ended (like "best practices" questions tend to be), as there is a right answer, but I don't know where to ask it.

The answer to this question (the one you're reading) may very well be "not here", and I should ask it somewhere else, like Quora perhaps, but I like the SE community and its website layout/idea exchange methodology.

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    despite not being open-ended you run the risk of the question being considered too broad. Make sure you scope it such that it won't take a novel to answer. – rene Jan 9 at 19:02
  • This strikes me an odd Q (which I'm answering because it's interesting and I'm waiting on a build). It's like asking why a bus isn't using 100% of its capacity when there's only one passenger on it. Capacity is measured by seats, which a person can generally use only one. A person could use more than one seat (say, for a nap), and a single person could hypothetically take up all seats (filling them up with moving boxes may be cheaper than uhaul), but that requires the person have the mind to do so. If one is happy with sitting in one seat the bus is going to be at much below overall capacity. – Won't Jan 9 at 19:25
  • My confusion is that the only method I can think of in order to wait/sleep is to spin in a loop until the next instruction is available. Spinning in a loop will go as fast as the processor can allow, which would be 100% of at least one core. – dx_over_dt Jan 9 at 19:28
  • @Won't in case you're curious... superuser.com/questions/1392423/… – dx_over_dt Jan 10 at 3:47
  • Ah, the concept of how a thread can stop execution and how a CPU can determine if it should be restarted. To tell the truth, I hadn't thought about timers being used in the process. Interesting. – Won't Jan 10 at 15:59
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Super User is probably the best choice. Literally anything about computer software or hardware is on-topic on SU. Your question is about understanding computer software, so it would be on-topic

Computer Science would work too. You can ask about models of computation, computer architecture, etc, which is what your question is about.

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