Understanding Your PC's CPU Clock Speed and Front Side Bus
Have a computer in your home that is put to use often? Why not take the time to
fully understand the terms, the components, and software used to make it work.
To understand your PC is not hard and you'll be rewarded greatly.
How you ask? By upgrading your own system as well as repairing those of your
friends while earning extra cash in the process. One of the more important PC
components are the Motherboard, CPU Chip, and your computer's Hard Drive.
The CPU or Central Processing Unit is the brains of any computer and the two
major manufacturers are Intel and AMD or Advanced Micro Devices. For many years
Intel CPUs were found in nearly all PCs. And now the Intel is found in most systems
but the newer Athlon class CPU from AMD have taken a large chunk of the CPU market.
AMD's top CPU is the Opteron which competes with Intel's Itanium and the Xeon.
The Athlon is next on AMD's CPU lists and is intended for mid to high end
computers. The Athlon XP was introduced in 1999 and is their most popular CPU.
Intel advertised their CPU's by their clock speed but now have introduced a
rating system using a three digit number such as Intel Pentium 735.To understand
the meaning of the number you can visit
Intel Processor Numbers
There you will see a list of all Intel CPUs, their rating numbers and meanings.
This information is a valuable asset in helping you further understand your
What then is meant by the term Clock Speed? This is the speed at which the CPU
runs and is measured as a frequency such as 500 MHz or 500 million cycles per
second. As every action carried out by the CPU requires one or more cycles, it
means that the higher the clock speed, the more instructions it will be able to
process in any given second. Take the time to know the clock speed of your
Want to know the clock speed of your CPU? There is a handy little utility named
that will show your CPU's speed, and type. It can be downloaded in either
DOS or Windows versions and its absolutely free.
The CPU's clock speed is an important indication of its quality but is by no
means the only one. You must also understand and consider its FSB or Front Side
Bus speed. The FSB allows the CPU to communicate with the rest of the computer.
The 3 GHz Pentium 4 PC has a FSB of 800 MHz and the 3 GHz Celeron's FSB is 533 MHz.
Other names for this technology is the CPU Bus Speed, Memory Bus and System Bus.
Note that they both have the same processing power but the Pentium 4 can transfer
data much more quickly since it has the faster FSB. To make it easier for us PC
users, manufacturers of the motherboards made them to support several FSB speeds
within a specified range. To find the FSB rating for your computer look in the owners manual.
The Front Side Bus speed can generally be set either using the system BIOS.
Short for Basic Input/Output System, this small software is responsible for
starting the computer's bootup procedure. The BIOS also recognizes and configures
the system's hardware prior to the loading of the operating system.
To access the BIOS, you must press a combination of keys such as CTRL-ALT-DEL on
older systems but newer PCs allow you enter setup by press F1 or F10. As your
computer boot's up, watch the screen for a key to press to access your Setup.
Once inside the BIOS, look for references to the FSB. Other motherboards allow
FSB setup with jumpers located on the motherboard.
While most motherboards allow you to set the FSB to any setting, ensure that the
FSB is properly set unless you plan to speed up your system by over-clocking the
Central Processing Unit.
The AMD has its own Hyper Transport Integrated I/O Bus and don't use FSB
numbers. This technology resulted in communication much faster between the CPU,
the RAM and other parts of the motherboard.
Now when you decide to upgrade your CPU or the Motherboard, don't overlook the
Front Side Bus capacity and the CPU clock speed. You'll further boost your PC
know as you understand these terms in more detail.
Copyright 2006 Otis Cooper. Otis F. Cooper is solely dedicated to boosting the
knowledge and confidence of every computer user. Sign up to receive his informative
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