Glossary

CPU speed

What is CPU speed?

The total clock speed or CPU speed of a device indicates how many processing cycles per second can be executed by a CPU, considering all of its processing units (more commonly referred to as cores). Also known as processor speed and CPU speed, the total clock speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz), with each gigahertz being equivalent to nothing less than one thousand million cycles per second. Initially, the CPU speed was listed in hertz (Hz) and kilohertz (kHz), but tech has outgrown these units.

In straightforward terms, the CPU speed shows how quickly data can be processed and is one of the key performance indicators for an electronic device – be it a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a smartwatch... Essentially, anything that works with a chipset.

When considering the total clock speed, less is definitely not more, so look for more GHz and a higher core count. Although this is not the single determining factor for an electronic device's performance, high processor speed is crucial if you are looking to perform demanding tasks such as gaming or video editing. As for the core count, a chipset with multiple processing units has the advantage of being able to run various tasks (also known as instructions) at the same time.

Nowadays, a chipset can comprise cores with varying speeds, thanks to ARM's big.LITTLE technology; the advantage is that tasks are assigned to different cores depending on how demanding they are, optimizing system usage, and preventing overheating. For instance, sending e-mails doesn't require much processing power, so instead of assigning this task to a high-speed core, the system will delegate these instructions to cores that produce less heat than the units with the highest speeds. Besides, even a single-core may be able to operate on different clock speeds: namely "base" and "turbo," and you can also check out this info for countless products here on Versus.

The current victor when it comes to total clock speed for computers is AMD's Epyc 7742, flaunting an overall clock rate of 64 x 2.25GHz (64 cores with 2.25 GHz each). However, the fierce competition among manufacturers means that an even faster CPU can be soon introduced to the market.

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