All About Processor Speeds

It is important to know how fast a processor is, especially if you intend to use it in your computer for home, work or any other reason. Processor speeds can be confusing and therefore very difficult to decode if you do not know at least the basics. Many companies boast that their computers have this processor that delivers this speed and another company will have a different processor which they would claim is faster. With all of the confusing and useless names, brands and various different speed classifications, you wouldn’t really know what to purchase or what to use, let alone understand if it will work in the system that you currently have. Make sure that you understand what a processor is and how it works by its speed and various other variables before you go out and purchase a bargain bin one or an overly priced piece to put into your computer.

The way that a processor’s speed is calculated is through its clocked speed and how much it could process within that time frame. Many of the more modern processors will be using a measurement of cycles per second more commonly known as hertz. One hertz is one cycle per second, a megahertz is one million cycles per second and a gigahertz is a billion cycles per second and is currently the most commonly used clock rate in modern times. You will be able to find processors upwards of 2 gigahertz and with many different options available that can do much more because of dual and quad core processing power which essentially parallel the processing power and those applications and programs that use these special properties of the processors will notice a large increase in processing speed.

How processors are labeled can be confusing but this is due to the fact that in the early 1990’s there was a marketing scheme that Apple took under its belt to try and outdo their competitors by releasing a computer option that had a faster clock speed than that of the other processor manufacturers of the time. This in turn allowed them to market their computers by saying that they had the fastest processors available even though the instruction set architecture and micro architecture of each manufacturer were different from each other. This means that even though it showed as faster, these differences really made only a small impact on the actual speed of the processors and their abilities to perform. So around the 2000’s most of the different processor producers started to use model numbers instead of clock speed to market their processors.

The new method of naming and labeling processors for marketing involved confusing and very catchy advanced sounding names. Although these flashy names were a very successful way to market the various different models of the processors, the underlying working capacities were always increasing a little by little. Many innovations such as pipelining of data, instruction set variables and multi cores integrated into processors contributed to increases in processing power and speed. Although these increases may sound appealing, they are limited to a degree by thermal and electrical constraints of how they work. CPU power dissipation issues will often times limit the processing power in terms of clock rate but the advent of different solutions to these problems allowed processors to really see noticeable speed increases. These are what you will now hear in various different types of processor labels in processor marketing. The leading companies that are producing processors that are worth their bulky price are now Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

How processors are compared nowadays is still quite tricky but mostly its smart to rely on benchmark tests. These benchmark tests will document all of the abilities of the processors while allowing the many different factors that make the processor so fast to be tested in many different ways. The pipelining ability, instruction sets, multiple cores and micro architecture are all factors in conjunction with clock rate that will really determine how fast and efficiently the processors will be able to operate. Of course, all this varies considerably when used with certain applications and programs that these processors are designed for and, no two processors, even if found within the same model will really work exactly the same.

Many of the companies that produce the processors will publish the maximum values of the processing power that they are able to theoretically use when integrated into a compatible system. Of course, most end users will never really be able to use the full amount of the processing power correctly unless they have a system that is designed to take full advantage of the processor that is placed into that system. As long as the processor is fairly fast and the required hardware is present and configured correctly, most of the end users will have extremely good results with the processing speed and will even be able to artificially overclock the processor to run at a capacity than it was intended to with varying levels of success. There are plenty of these options available to those who know how to appropriately overclock their processors. Not all processors are suitable for overclocking!

To really get processors to do their job the best way possible, you will need an appropriate amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) available for the processor to use. If there is not enough RAM in the system, having a better and faster processor is a waste and will not do its intended job correctly. If the available RAM is more than is needed, then the processor can actually work much more efficiently than it could with just the bare minimum. When looking into getting a better and faster processor, it is a very good idea to try and get more RAM for the system that it will be placed into. The best results come from different options available in both processor speed and power with a mixture of other high end hardware, the software that the hardware will be running and the ability of the processor to make it all work in sync.

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