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So Long, Gigahertz? Understanding Intel's New Processor Numbering System

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Intel no longer uses pure clock speed to gauge the performance of their processors. This article helps explain how to interpret the new system.

Intel no longer uses pure clock speed to gauge the performance of their processors. This article helps explain how to interpret the new system.

Introduction

Years ago, everything else being equal, the processor with the fastest clock speed was the fastest performer. However, starting with the Intel Pentium II/Celeron and the AMD Athlon/Duron families of processors, other processor features such as front-side bus speed, clock multipliers, onboard L1 and L2 cache size, and L2 cache speed began to complicate processor comparisons. With some high-performance desktop processors such as the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition now featuring on-board L3 cache and mobile processors such as the Pentium M providing better performance at lower clock speeds than the Mobile Pentium 4, simple clock-speed comparisons between processors are more misleading than ever before.

In this article, you will learn why Intel has decided to completely revise its method of identifying both mobile and desktop processors. You will also learn how processors are identified in the new numbering scheme and how to determine what factors are used to sequence the numbers in a given processor family.

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