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  Computer Dictionary : Clock Speed

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1. Clock Speed

Clock speed is the rate at which a processor can complete processing cycles. It is typically measured in Megahertz or Gigahertz. One megahertz is 1 million cycles per second, while one gigahertz is 1 billion cycles per second. This means a 1.8 GHz processor has twice the clock speed of a 900 MHz processor.

However, a 1.8 GHz CPU is not necessarily twice as fast as a 900 MHz CPU. This is because different processors often use different architectures. For example, one processor may require more clock cycles to complete a multiplication instruction than another processor. If the 1.8 GHz CPU can complete a multiplication instruction in 4 cycles, while the 900 MHz CPU takes 10 cycles, the 1.8 GHz processor is more than twice as fast as the 900 MHz processor. For this reason, a 1.4 GHz Pentium 4 performs better than a 1.4 GHz Pentium 3, but is not as fast as a 1.4 GHz Power PC G4 processor.

Other factors, such as a computer's bus speed, cache size, speed of the RAM, and hard drive speed also contribute to the overall performance of the machine. While the processor's clock speed is a significant indicator of how fast a computer is, it certainly is not the only thing that matters.


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