What's the difference in using one processor compared to another?

By Xzylo ยท 10 replies
Mar 25, 2011
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  1. I have a few computers and the CPU on all of them are a little different. I'm not sure what getting a better CPU would even do. I always thought RAM made the computer go faster. What does CPU do different than RAM?

    Heres some of my CPU specs..

    Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU 560 @ 2.13 GHz 2.13 GHz, 1GB RAM <--------------Whats the 560? Why didnt the others show it?

    Intel Pentium 4 CPU 2.40 GHz 2.42 GHz, 1GB RAM

    Intel Celeron D CPU 3.20 GHz <-- Has like 800MB RAM

    Id really like to know the difference between different CPUs and how it helps me. I don't understand alot of the numbers I see. I think what it means by Gigahertz how fast it is, but idk what its doing at that speed, i just know the speed. I need an explanation and I cant seem to find one I can understand anywhere.

    Also, Whats the difference in duel core, triple core, and quad core?

    And the difference in the Pentium, Celeron, and whatever else there is out there?

    And are there other brands than Intel?

    And is the 3.20GHz significantly faster than the 2.13GHz? I don't see the difference, is there a way I can tell?

    I notice when I take the CPU out of my computers and look at them, some have prongs, some dont, some are difference sizes. What are these different chips called?

    Whats the difference in 32bit and 64bit?
    Correct me if I'm wrong please. But does 32bit hold about 2-4GB RAM and 64bit hold as much as billions of GBs of RAM? Read that on www.HowStuffWorks.com

    Whats the difference in L1, L2, L3 cache? I read that it can increase performance, hows this?
    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cache1.htm <----- Found a good answer here! Analogies really help me.

    I'm really interested in this and I'm so curious about how computers work. It seems like the more I learn the more questions I have. I'm really doing my research and learning alot, but theres just some questions I cant find on the internet. As I do find the answers or get answers here. I'll be posting them for other people who are wondering the same thing I am.
  2. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    Those CPU you mentioned are very obsolete but I'm willing to provide you a simple information.

    Avoid Celeron, those are for budget-minded people, and they're extremely slow.

    For this year market, there's a big difference on performance between dual, triple and quad core cpus.

    Check this link out. This could help you since it has the performance, info and price values as in comparsion against each other.


    Sorry if I'm not much of help.
  3. jeremy1982

    jeremy1982 TS Rookie Posts: 69

    Do 3.2 or higher qaud cores over heat real easy if you don't over clock them?

    sorry for jacking your thread i have no intentions of doing so, i thought this would be good thread to get my question answered without making new thread!!
  4. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    That all depends on what you will do with them.

    Normally the OEM heatsink will lasts for a few years with a good habit of air-blasting the dusts from the can. At the most time, overclocking cpu using the OEM heatsink/fan is bad idea unless you have enough air-flow to cool them down.

    You can try the simple experiment by installing the temperature monitor (Everest or CPU-Z) and keep the eyes on the temp.

    AFAIK, the newer quad core cpus ( before i3/i5/i7, it was quad 9xxx and up ) are getting cooler than the previous cpus. (If i remember right, Q9550 was running at 35C/48C at idle/peak in my friend's P182 case.)

    The only way to tell if they don't really heat up much is to check their TPW and MT ( Thermal Design Power and Manufacturing Tech). Lower MT they have, the better and cooler they will perform than the older processors.

    I'm not saying anything trash here, but this is the best I could answer to your question, Jeremy1982.
  5. Xzylo

    Xzylo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I like it when people ask questions. It puts more questions in my head. Feel free to add to my thread. I want to get a good understanding of how each part inside the computer operates and how they're made.
  6. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Well a CPU is what actually does the work but it needs to do the work on data. The more data accessible when the CPU needs it, the more efficiently the CPU can process. Fast ram is one thing that can feed the CPU. Feeding the CPU is actually in a hierarchy. It generally goes

    1) Registers - generally accessed in a single clock cycle by the CPU for doing operations directly. Off the top of my head I believe you need to load data into registers to perform operations on them but some more sophisticated CPU functions may get around that.

    2) L1, L2, L3 cache. L1 is the fastest but smallest. L3 is largest but slowest. You can't upgrade these cache sizes in a CPU.

    3) Ram. External to the CPU. Slower than L3 cache.

    4) Other storage such as hard drives, USB drives, DVD drives and so on.

    So the best way to keep the processor well fed with data is to increase the space on an item higher up on the list (towards number 1). That generally requires a new CPU!

    It is easier to increase the space on an item lower on the list. E.g. ram or a faster hard drive or a solid state drive!

    More cores means a CPU can process more independent code at a time. If you only had a single core, everything from running your web browser to MSN to Word, Excel etc all have to run on the one CPU. Essentially if you have multiple cores, the work can be shared around.

    Having said that, if you don't run lots of programs and the ones you do run don't make use of multi-core CPUs, a really fast single core CPU might do your work faster than a dual or quad core CPU! So dual or quad may lose in some benchmarks you see around the place.

    There's quite a lot to that question. Basically the better the processor, the more efficient it is at processing programs or the better "tools" it has available (in the form of additional instructions). Celeron chips are generally stripped down versions of the main Intel CPUs.

    For a list of Intel Processors, see List of Intel microprocessors

    AMD and Via are two others. AMD is really the only serious competition for the desktop and most of the laptop markets.

    If you are talking the same architecture then yes certainly. But a Intel Core 2 Quad 2.13GHz is probably a lot faster at running programs than a Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz for just about everything so clock speed does not necessarily mean a better CPU.

    The reason a Pentium 4 can have a higher clock speed is because it is designed such that it breaks down work into smaller pieces. It then can do each piece quicker so that enables it to have a higher clock speed. When you keep trying to do this (breaking down the work into smaller pieces) there is only so much cutting and calving you can and there are diminishing returns.

    So what it turns out is that the Core 2 architecture was better because although the pieces weren't quite so small, it ran "slower" but did relatively more in each piece.

    That is generally referred to the "package" or "socket" of the chip. Just means there are different ways of connecting a CPU to a motherboard. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_socket

    In a manor of speaking, 32-bit windows systems are limited to 4GB of "address space". 64-bit have a much higher limit as per the article.
    Programs can be written for 32-bit and/or 64-bit processors. Current mainstream CPUs you buy from the store are 64-bit and 32-bit capable. You can therefore install a 32-bit or 64-bit version of an operating system (e.g. Windows Vista or Win7 etc).
    A 64-bit program will not run on a 32-bit operating system because the program uses instructions that a 32-bit operating system cannot read. A 32-bit program however can run on a 64-bit processor usually because the operating system is written to handle the older code (using windows, see WOW64)

    I'll try give a little pro/con list of each but I'll probably miss things and others can fill in the gaps. I'm referring only to Windows here so the list is a little Windows specific.

    32-bit Pros:
    1) Superior mainstream software support. Been running for years so lots of 32-bit apps around.

    2) Hardware driver support is superior (same reason as above).

    3) Possibly slightly faster execution of the same code.

    4) Program size is smaller. 32-bit instructions are obviously smaller than the equivalent 64-bit instruction!

    32-bit Cons:
    1) Programs limited to 2GB memory (standard but you can tweak this number up to 3GB playing around with Windows and program settings).

    2) Windows limited to 4GB memory but you can actually only use around 3GB or so even with 4GB installed. Reason being it can address 4GB of "address space" but that includes your video card, audio card, peripherals and so on. Those take away from how much RAM you can use out of that 4GB.

    3) A little limited in data size. E.g. "natively" a 32-bit processor has 32-bit numbers. 32-bit numbers really aren't that big. You can make "pseudo-64-bit" numbers by putting 2x 32-bit numbers side by side but to do arithmetic on these pseudo numbers is much slower than using a native 64-bit number on a 64-bit computer!

    64-bit Pros and cons. The reverse of above. 64-bit programs area allowed to use much more memory. So big games like Crysis 2 and so on might benefit from being 64-bit.

    See my answer earlier...
  7. jeremy1982

    jeremy1982 TS Rookie Posts: 69

    I have one fan inside my computer case witch is on top of the case inside!! and another fan that is connected to the cpu!! Would i need another fan if i wanted to get 3.0 quad core? Or would the fans i already have be enough!! And my case is open and not all closed up so air can get in!!
  8. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    Generally you want to cool your system with the principle of thermaldynamics- that is - hot air rises. Put an exhaust fan at the top and an intake fan on the sides or bottom. Your processor and the graphics cards will have their own fans - they have to. But to cool the entire system, you need adequate ventilation - especially important if you tax the system with heavy computing programs such as intensive games. If you're just doing general productivity - surfing the net, word processing, etc.... then cooling isn't as big of a factor. Stock cooling is more than ample.

    Btw- a witch rides a broom. I think you meant to say which.
  9. jeremy1982

    jeremy1982 TS Rookie Posts: 69

    thank you for all this knowlegde tedster and bushwack much appreciatted!!
  10. Row1

    Row1 TS Guru Posts: 343   +13

    regularly read some key websites

    to learn, regularly read some key websites.

    i like techspot for figuring out answers to problems, and getting ideas for options when thinking about sme new change, like getting a new hard drive, or which utility is best.

    for more extensive articles, that are more like overview class lectures on topics, there are a handful of good sites.

    i am not paid to endorse these or anything - and i am not trying to downgrade techspot - but there are some other great comp sites out there.

    tomshardware has a lot - it has too much to read in a lifetime. they run evaluations of components, like different cpus, on similar computer systems and test the differences. they also have explanatory articles, especially as new designs and classes of products come out.

    anandtech is also good. extremetech is good. silentpcreview is good. storagereview is good. cnet is really popular, but i don't like it myself very much since there is so much going on at that site beyond what i am talking about here.

    just keep reading and asking questions. i never had a formal instruction for anything compuetr in my life, but i can assemble a computer from parts, and can usually solve problems like dead power supplies and so on. i just read and try to ask clear questions until i figure things out.

    techspot is definitely the best place to ask specific questions.
  11. Xzylo

    Xzylo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    THANKYOU ROW1!! Thats what I've been needing. A few sites with lectures and interesting computer information.

    And also thank you Darth Shiv. You significantly helped me with a lot of questions.

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