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Try using the Direct Sparse solver and see how that works for you. I am not sure about latest releases, but 2004 and I believe 2006 only support multi-core with the direct sparse solver.
Jacob, I'm in the middle of evaluating the help of a quad core system vs. dual core, and 64 bit system versus 32 bit. Please do post a followup on your question if you discover more. Right now, reading your post it sounds like you have another issue other than pure processor speed... 1/2 second vs. 45 seconds doesn't really sound related to the hardware. Perhaps there are some driver incompatibilities or memory issues going on...? -thanks