The Central Processing Unit, or CPU for short, is the most important component in any computer. Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone, all of them contain a CPU that handles the majority of its processing power. There are a few different manufacturers of processors, but Intel is a pioneer in the field, with industry-leading technology in the realm of computer processing. This article will break down the internals of Intel processors, as well as provide explanations of some common terms used when describing them.
Intel processors are released in generations. A generation of processors is a series of different CPUs all released in the same year. These contain similar internal components, and have similar processing capabilities, with a few differences between models. The first generation of Intel processors was released in 1971, with subsequent generations released every year or two afterward. Currently, the newest generation of Intel chips on the market is the 6th generation Core i series, with the 7th generation just over the horizon.
CPUs, whether manufactured by Intel or another processor developer, are made up of one or more cores. These cores are responsible for handling tasks assigned to your computer, such as running programs or performing calculations. For the most part, one core can only handle one task at a time. For this reason, Intel processors are designed with multiple cores, so they can multitask effectively. The more tasks that a processor’s cores are able to do every second, the faster its clock speed.
Recent technological developments by Intel has enabled each core of their chips to run multiple threads. These threads show up on the computer as separate cores, dividing up work more efficiently. CPUs that only have 4 cores can be hyperthreaded, meaning computers will treat them as if they have 8 cores. This is one of the ways that Intel increases the processing speed of their CPUs, and it is reflected in a faster clock speed.
Clock speed is the way to measure and compare the speeds of different processors on the market. It is measure in MegaHertz (MHz), although more powerful Intel chips are also measured in GigaHertz (GHz). 1 MHz means one million cycles are performed per second, and 1 GHz means one thousand million cycles are performed per second. The current generation of high-end Intel processors have clock speeds in the range of 3.5 to 4.0 Ghz, thanks to their multiple cores and hyperthreading technology.
When looking for the right processor to use in a computer build, it’s important to pick one that has a clock speed high enough to manage whatever tasks are required of it. A good rule of thumb is to get as fast a processor as possible, and Intel has some of the fastest processors on the market today. Another thing to look out for is the socket type, which determines what kind of motherboards each chip will fit into. Some modern Intel socket types are LGA 1151, LGA 1150, and LGA 1155. Older Intel motherboards and processors use sockets such as LGA 775 and LGA 1366. It’s important to get a CPU with the same socket type as the motherboard; otherwise, it won’t fit.
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