How to Compare Processor Speed for Intel & AMD

by David Perez

Processors work in sync with the computer’s internal clock. This clock is an alternation from a high to a low voltage that pulses millions, if not billions, of times per second. Each pulse is a “cycle.” Comparing AMD to Intel processors is a matter of determining the amount of tasks a given unit can perform per cycle.

Cycles Per Second

For each cycle, the processor carries out instructions. Intel calls this value the processor’s “clock speed,” while AMD calls it the “frequency.” The higher this value the more frequently the processor works on calculations as directed by software.

Instructions Per Cycle

Instructions per cycle (IPC) is the amount of instructions a processor executes for each cycle. If cycles per second is how often a processor works, IPC is the number of tasks it accomplishes each time it works. AMD processors tend to have high IPC and lower clock speeds as comparted with Intel units. This means that they can somtimes perform on par with Intel processors despite operating at fewer cycles per second (See References 5 and 6).


Some AMD processors have a “Quantispeed” rating—abbreviated “XP”—rather than a frequency rating. This is a four-digit number followed by a “+” sign. According to Infopackets, the following formula will calculate frequency from Qantispeed rating: MHz = (XP rating/1.5) + (500/1.5). This rating system allows AMD to convey processor performance in a manner other than clock speed, an area where Intel units generally have higher marks.


A multi-core processor is a single unit with more than one processor working simultaneously. While both AMD and Intel offer multi-core processors, AMD is the only one to offer one with three cores (See Reference 7). Such a unit is best compared to an Intel processor with either two or four cores, bearing in mind that, all things being equal, it will perform faster than Intel units with two cores and slower than those with four.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera back of cpu image by Kir from