What Is a Fast Computer Processor?

by Erik Arvidson

Computer processors are constantly being refined and enhanced, but the fastest processors available on the market as of 2010 make billions of calculations per second and are rated as high as 4 GHz or 5 GHz.

Measurement

Computer processors are rated according to their clock speed, which is measured in gigahertz and tells how quickly a processor can execute instructions. A computer's internal clock measures the number of clock cycles needed to execute an instruction.

Considerations

In addition to clock speed, a processor that has multiple cores that read data and execute the instructions is faster. A dual-core processor, for instance, has two independent cores that can process commands.

Recommendations

Microsoft recommends that for basic activities like editing photos, browsing the Web, and listening to music, a dual-core 1GHz processor is sufficient. For intensive gaming, a user would need a dual-core processor of at least 2.8 GHz.

Significance

In September 2010, IBM introduced what it said was the fastest computer processor in the world: the 5.2 GHz z196. The processor could handle 50 billion instructions per second.

About the Author

Erik Arvidson has 12 years of professional writing experience, including six years as a senior reporter at the Massachusetts Statehouse for several suburban dailies, and most recently as PR Manager of a telecommunications company near Boston. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/communications from North Adams State College.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera processor 3 image by BlueMiniu from Fotolia.com