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jainnehaa
jainnehaa

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Significance of Computer Specs : Processor & Memory

Considering configurations mentioned in technical specifications for a typical laptop, this write-up would intend to explain meaning and significance for 2 parameters : Processor and RAM.

# Processor :
A processor or CPU is the brain of the computer, giving it the processing power.

Example of a processor from AMD :
AMD Ryzenโ„ข 7 5825U (up to 4.5 GHz max boost clock, 16 MB L3 cache, 8 cores, 16 threads)
Here,

  • AMD Ryzenโ„ข 7 5825U is of series - Cezanne (Zen 3, Ryzen 5000) Barcelo (Zen 3 architecture). AMD is a brand, Ryzen 7 one of the series amongst 3,6,7,9 etc.

  • 4.5 GHz max boost clock :
    Clock Speed is the speed of a computer CPU, measured in hertz. One billion hertz per second = one gigahertz (GHz). It is a measure of frequency and is used to describe bus speeds and CPU clock speeds.

  • 16 MB L3 cache :
    Cache memory is a chip-based computer component that makes retrieving data from the computer's memory more efficient. It acts as a temporary storage area that the computer's processor can retrieve data from easily. Cache memory is sometimes called CPU memory or Hardware Cache.
    Cache is graded into different levels in increasing size order as :
    Level 1 (L1) < Level 2 (L2) < Level 3 (L3) < Level 4 (L4 - not very common)
    The more L2 and L3 memory available, the faster a computer can run. However, not a lot of physical space is allocated for cache. There is more space for RAM, which is usually larger and less expensive.
    Storage Memory Hierarchy :

Storage Memory Hierarchy

  • 8 cores :
    Core is a processing unit within a CPU. CPUs can have multiple cores. More cores a processor has, the faster it can process information.
    Each CPU core has its own L1 cache, but may share L2 and L3 caches.

  • 16 threads :
    Threads are the virtual components or codes, which divides the physical core of a CPU into virtual multiple cores. A single CPU core can have up-to 2 threads per core.
    Hence, if a CPU is dual core (i.e., 2 cores) it will have 4 threads.
    And if a CPU is Octal core (i.e., 8 core) it will have 16 threads and vice-versa.

Another example of a processor from Intel has configuration against similar parameters :
Intelยฎ Coreโ„ข i5-1240P (up to 4.4 GHz with Intelยฎ Turbo Boost Technology, 12 MB L3 cache, 12 cores, 16 threads)

Intel Naming Convention
Image shows the naming convention adopted by Intel for it's processors

# RAM :
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the computer's short-term, working memory. The computer places data in the RAM when a program is currently using it to work on a task. Once you finish, the data is deleted from the RAM so the memory is available for other tasks.
The more RAM you have, the more programs you can have running at once and the faster the computer will respond.
When shopping for RAM, check to see what the maximum amount is that your motherboard and processor can supportโ€”RAM can only work to those limits.

Example :
16 GB DDR4-3200 MHz RAM (2 x 8 GB)

  • 3200 MHz :
    RAM is measured by how many cycles per second it can perform. For example, if RAM is rated at 3200 MHz, it performs 3.2 billion cycles per second.
    The more cycles your RAM can perform per second translates to how much data can be stored and read โ€“ making for smoother user experiences.
    Thereโ€™s usually a direct correlation between higher DDR (Double Data Rate) RAM and the clock cycles those modules accommodate.

  • 16 GB DDR4 :
    RAM has evolved from DRAM to SDRAM and now to DDR.
    Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DRAM), introduced in the 1970s, is an asynchronous memory and not regulated by a clock. This posed a problem in organizing data as it comes in so it can be queued for the process itโ€™s associated with. Also, DDR being asynchronous could work as fast with processors that were just getting faster.
    Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory (SDRAM) is synchronous and relies on a clock to synchronize signals, creating predictable orderly cycles of data fetches and writes. However, SDRAM transfers data on one edge of the clock.
    DDR SDRAM means that this type of SDRAM fetches data on both the leading edge and the falling edge of the clock signal that regulates it, thus the name DDR (Double Data Rate). Prior to DDR, RAM would fetch data only once per clock cycle.
    DDR is not flash memory like the kind that is used for Solid State Drives (SSDs), Secure Digital (SD) cards, or Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives. DDR memory is volatile, which means that it loses everything once power is removed.
    DDR has faster transfer rates and high capacity.
    DDR has progressed from DDR to DDR2, DDR3, and now DDR4 SDRAM (as in Table below).
    DDR2 โ€“ DDR4 evolved to require lower supply voltages saving power and some changes to increase the speed.
    DDR2 SDRAM reduced operating voltage to 1.8 volts and a clock multiplier was added to the memory module to again double data transfer speeds while operating at the same bus speed.
    DDR3 RAM integrated a 4x clock multiplier, again doubling the memory transfer rate for the same bus speed.

Comparison of SDRAM in order of release. Clock and transfer rates are approximate and vary by manufacturer :

Comparison of SDRAM Releases

  • 2 x 8 GB : 2 slots of 8GB RAM each

Reference :
amd-ryzen-7-5825u
amd.com
androidauthority.com
bbc.co.uk
intel.com/processor-numbers
intel.com/resources
intel.com/products
12th-generation-intel-core-i9-processors
techtarget.com
geeksforgeeks.org
wepc.com
microcontrollertips.com

Image/Table Resource :
Storage Memory Heirarchy
Intel Naming Convention
DDR and SDRAM Comparision

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