description of central processing unit

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Common Microprocessors Used on Personal Computers

If purchasing a personal computer the "processor" or "CPU" (abbreviation for Central Processing Unit) will have a significant factor towards the cost of your computer system-- the newer and more powerful the CPU, the more expensive the computer system will be.

The processor is responsible for everything your computer does. For example, the CPU runs the operating system, the software programs installed on your computer, and device peripherals such as printers and flatbed scanners.

The rate of speed that the processor executes commands is measured by clock speed, or often called MHz (megahertz). The processor requires a fixed number of clock cycles to perform each instruction. The faster the clock speed, the more instructions it can execute. Thus resulting in a faster running computer system.

There are many processors available, and not knowing the differences can be frustrating when it comes to spending or saving $200-$300 on a particular computer system.

Listed below are some of the more common processors and clock speed on the market today.

Name of CPU

Intel Celeron

Intel Pentium II

Intel Pentium III

Intel Pentium III Xeon

Intel Pentium 4



AMD Duron

AMD Athlon K-7

AMD Athlon XP

Macintosh G3

Macintosh G4
CPU Speed

500 MHz - 800 MHz

233 MHz - 450 MHz

450 MHz - 1 GHz

600 MHz - 1 GHz

1.4 GHz - 2 GHz

550 MHz

450 MHz

750 MHz -850 MHz

1 GHz - 1.33 GHz

1.4 GHz - 1.8 GHz

466 MHz - 733 MHz

733 MHz
Level 2 Cache **

128 KB, full speed

512 KB, half speed

256 KB, full speed

256 KB - 2MB, full speed

256 KB, full speed


256 KB, full speed

64 KB, full speed

256 KB, full speed

384 KB

512 KB, 1 MB, half speed

1 MB, half speed

** Most modern personal computer's processor in fact have two processors. One is the processor itself (includes the Level 1 cache) and the other is the Level 2 cache. Processors are available with a range of Level 2 cache. This is a very performance-enhancing design.

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