Comparisons of Processor Speeds

By David Miller

Computer processor speeds have increased many times over in the past decade.
i processor image by Valentin Mosichev from

The rise of the computer over the past several decades has redefined our culture. Processor speed is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of computer speed; memory, or RAM, is considered after that. With today's pace and lifestyle, having a low-performing computer is a headache to most of us. Time seems to go by quickly and it is imperative that our computer processors work just as fast.


To gauge a processor's speed, clocked speed is used to measure the amount of information processed within a specified period of time. Hertz is the given measurement to count a processor's speed. A single Hertz is equivalent to a single cycle per second. A megahertz is a million cycles per second and a gigahertz is a billion. The latter is the commonly used clock rate today.


Currently there are processors that offer speeds beyond 2 gigahertz. These processors have numerous options that enable them to work quickly and at a processing power parallel to its speed. The higher its speed and power, the larger quantities of information and applications a processor can handle.


Benchmark tests on processors take processor speeds, bus architecture and other variables into account to determine the fastest processor. Comparing processors is a tedious task that compares many variables. You should seek results from a reliable source when determining the fastest processors.


The processor's overall speed is affected by more than just the clock speed. Variables such as pipelining ability, instruction sets, multiple cores and micro architecture have a direct bearing on speed tests. Although these variables contribute to the speed, certain programs and applications also affect the results considerably. Programs and applications require a certain processing speed and ample memory space to run; the more programs that are active and loaded into memory, the more it affects the processor's performance.


RAM (Random Access Memory) also affects the processor's speed. Processors can do their job well when RAM is optimized for the system. If there is little RAM or memory available for programs and data to be stored, the processor speed suffers by having to access data more frequently. The more memory there is, the faster the processor can also get. Logically, it is a waste having a high-speed processor without utilizing RAM to its full potential.