CPU : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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CPU
The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the part of the computer that does the calculations. A clock beats out a rhythm like a slave driver in a Roman oar-driven ship. The CPU does some calculation on each beat of the clock. The faster the clock beats the faster the work gets done. Roughly speaking then a 200 MHz CPU (the clock beats 200,000,000 times a second) will work twice as fast as one that works at 100 MHz. In practice the whole computer will be considerably less than twice as fast because the other parts of the computer e.g. the RAM (Random Access Memory), hard disk etc. are no faster. Different CPU chips, even at the same clock rate, perform differently. More expensive CPU chips are designed to do more work per clock beat. They may do this by clever circuitry or by taking bigger hunks of data to process at once, or by doing more than one calculation per clock beat. Here are the Intel line of CPU chips used in MS-DOS/Windows personal computers ordered from slowest to fastest. People tend to focus too much on raw CPU speed. More RAM, faster hard disk, a smarter video card, faster RAM, or a bigger SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) cache are often better places to spend your money to get an overall faster computer.

Most new computers sold are in the 2 to 3 gigahertz (2,000 to 3,000 MHz) range. The two leading manufacturers are AMD and Intel. Usually an AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) CPU of the same MHz rating is faster than the equivalent Intel CPU because it gets more done per clock cycle. AMD uses model numbers to account for this, e. g. the Athlon 1600+ is roughly equivalent to a Pentium IV 1.6 gigahertz CPU, though it runs at only a 1.4 gigahertz clock speed. They roughly approximate the power of the equivalent Intel CPU. On the other hand, some software is tuned for Intel and may not work as fast on AMD or may not work at all. This is less of a problem than it was in past. Clock speed is misleading. A CPU with double the clock speed may run only marginally faster, because it spends most of its time waiting for RAM which is no faster. A dual CPU may run only marginally faster than a single one because the two CPU s have to keep waiting for each other for common hunks of RAM.

Intel’s value line is called Celeron. AMD ’s value line is called Duron.

Intel’s premium line is called Xeon, and AMD ’s premium line is called Athlon.

Intel’s 64-bit server line is called Itanium. AMD ’s 64-bit server line is called Opteron.

Intel chip bits grabbed
at once
bits calculated
at once
Intel 8088 (XT) 8 16
Intel 8086 16 16
Intel 80286 (AT (Advanced Technology)) 16 16
Intel 80386sx 16 32
Intel 80386dx 32 32
Intel 80486 32 32
Intel Pentium (586) 64 32
Intel Pentium Pro (686) 64 32
Intel Pentium II (796) 64 32
Intel Pentium III, AMD Duron 64 32
Intel Pentium IV, AMD Athlon 64 32
Intel Itanium 128 64
AMD Opteron 128 64

CPUs (Central Processing Units) prices are sometimes quoted without fans. Cooling fans mounted on the CPU are mandatory. If one is not included, you will have to buy one separately for about  $20.00 CAD to $75.00 CAD . When you upgrade a machine, monitor the temperature of the CPU, RAM and support chips and add fans/cooling as needed.

Amazon prices are not logical. Often a more powerful CPU is cheaper.

electronic product image recommend electronic⇒AMD FX-6100 CPUto electronic home
asin B005UBNKWO
This is the CPU I have ordered for myself. It runs cooler than some of the other options and consumes less power. It has 6 cores, 3.3/3.9Gz, L1 cache:768Kb, L2 cache:6Mb, L3 cache:8Mb. Details
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr newegg.ca Canadian flag
Italian flag amazon.it tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk amazon.com American flag
India flag junglee.com newegg.com American flag
UN flag other stores tigerdirect.com American flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒AMD FX-8120 CPUto electronic home
asin B005UBNKZG
It has 8 cores, 3.1/4.0GHz, L1 cache:1Mb, L2 cache:8Mb, L3 cache:8Mb. Details
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr newegg.ca Canadian flag
Italian flag amazon.it tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk amazon.com American flag
India flag junglee.com newegg.com American flag
UN flag other stores tigerdirect.com American flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒AMD FX-4100 CPUto electronic home
asin B005UBNL0A
It has 4 cores, 3.6/3.8GHz, L1 cache:512Kb, L2 cache:4Gb, L3 cache:8Gb. Amazon’s pricing on this currently makes no sense compared with prices for chips with more cores. Details
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr newegg.ca Canadian flag
Italian flag amazon.it tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk amazon.com American flag
India flag junglee.com newegg.com American flag
UN flag other stores tigerdirect.com American flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock

CPU Cleaning

If you don’t keep your CPU clean, it will overhead. With the power off, give a blast of canned air to the CPU fan and CPU cooling heat sink. Pick out any dust with a toothpick or a pair of tweezers. While you are at it, blast the dust off all components and fans. Blast the dust out of the power supply. Dust accumulation will be much worse if you keep your computer in a carpeted room.

You buy a machine with 3 times as many cores, 6 times as much RAM, and procecessor with a clock speed 3 times faster. You might be deluded into imagining this new machine will blow your socks off. It won’. The main thing you will notice is your machine will not grind to a crawl when you run background tasks. Most programs are designed for single threading. They can’t exploit any more than one core. Further, the bottleneck is the mechanical hard disk. There is not much you can do to speed it up, except get an SSD (Solid State Disk). You’d think the OS (Operating System) would be extremely clever with all that RAM to use for disk caching. It does not make as much difference as I expected.
AMD
Athlon
Atom
benchmarks: speed comparisons
Celeron
cleaning
fan
hyperthreading
Intel
Itanium
motherboard
Newegg.ca: online Canadian retailer selling CPUs
Newegg.com: online US retailer selling CPUs
Opteron
Pentium
RAM
Sempron
socket
TigerDirect: online Canadian retailer selling CPUs
TigerDirect: online US retailer selling CPUs

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