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In this chapter, you have seen the basic components and functions of a PC s CPU A historical view has been provided to help you better understand the amazing evolution of CPUs in the more than 20-year life span of the personal computer The information in this chapter will be referred to again and again throughout the book Take the time to memorize certain facts, such as the size of the L1 and L2 caches, CPU speeds, and clock-doubling features These are facts that good technicians can spout off without having to refer to a book
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3: Understanding CPUs
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After reading this chapter and completing the exercises, you should understand the following about CPUs of wires comprising the address bus dictates the amount of memory the CPU can access
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The central processing unit performs calculations on binary numbers to make the magic of computers work The CPU interfaces with the motherboard and other components through the external data bus or frontside bus CPUs contain several areas of internal memory, known as registers, in which data and addresses are stored while processing The commands a CPU knows how to perform are dictated by its instruction set A quartz crystal soldered to the motherboard and known as the system crystal provides a constant pulse known as the clock The frequency of this pulse, or clock speed, dictates the maximum speed at which a processor can run, measured in megahertz or gigahertz The processor typically runs at some multiple of this clock pulse, known as the internal clock speed The internal clock speed is set by adjusting the multiplier (which multiplies the clock speed by some number) by configuring motherboard jumpers or making a change to a CMOS setting, or is set automatically via CPU circuitry Setting the clock speed higher to force the CPU to run faster than its rating is known as overclocking
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Most CPUs in modern PCs are manufactured by Intel or AMD CPUs come in two main form factors: pin grid array (PGA) and single edge cartridge (SEC) PGA CPUs connect to the motherboard by way of a zero insertion force (ZIF) socket, which allows the CPU to be inserted with no force ZIF sockets work by way of a mechanical arm that locks the CPU in place The original Intel Pentium was introduced in 1990 and discontinued in 1995 AMD s competing CPU was the AMD K5 Pipelining enables a CPU to perform calculations as an assembly line No longer does one calculation need to be completed before the next can begin Modern CPUs have multiple pipelines Modern CPUs contain small amounts of highspeed SRAM called cache As CPUs advanced, the capacities of cache increased as did the number of cache areas itself CPU cache is also known as L1, L2, or L3 cache Data and instructions are stored in cache while they await processing This increases performance, as the CPU can access data in cache more rapidly than data in motherboard RAM In 1995 Intel released the Pentium Pro It improved upon the original Pentium by offering quad pipelining, dynamic processing, and on-chip L2 cache With four pipelines, it was guaranteed to run at least two processes at the same time The ability to run more than one process in a single clock cycle is called superscalar execution The Pentium Pro s advanced branch prediction allowed it to run processes out of order to increase performance in a procedure called speculative execution In 1996 Intel released the Pentium II It improved upon the Pentium Pro by offering multimedia extensions (MMX) and a refined instruction set The AMD K6 (and its varieties) was the main competitor
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