Motherboards, Cases, Power Supplies

The Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 caches

A cache is the part of a processor of a computer designed to reduce the time to access RAM memory because the access speed works at the speed of the processor instead of at the speed of the slower system bus that serves the system memory. The cache stores data that is in the main memory locations that are used most frequently. As long as most memory accesses are cached memory locations, the average latency (delay between data accesses) of memory accesses will be closer to the cache latency than to the slower latency of main RAM memory that is driven by the system bus.

Most modern desktop and server processors have at least three independent caches called Level 1 (L1), Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (L3) caches. Multilevel caches function by the processor checking the smallest Level 1 (L1) cache for data first. If it is successful, the processor proceeds at its own high speed. If the smaller cache doesn’t contain frequently-used data, the next larger cache (L2) is checked, followed by the next larger cache (L3), before the main system memory is checked.

The first cached single-core processors made by Intel and AMD only had L1 and L2 caches. AMD introduced the Level 3 (L3) cache with its early single-core K6-3 processors.

The advantages of an L3 cache depends on how the program being used makes use of a multi-core processor – that is, whether or not the program has been written to take advantage of a two-, three-, four-, six or eight-core processor. If you want performance from a processor, it’s best to ignore the number of caches and other features, such as a memory controller and onboard graphics, and just read the reviews of processors that provide comparative benchmark tests.

CPU cache – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_cache#Multi-level_caches

How Caching Works: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cache.htm

Is Cache Size Really The Key To Boosting Performance? –

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/processor-cache-size,review-29707.html

Does Cache Size Really Boost Performance? –

“While cache size only had a limited impact on the synthetic benchmarks such as PCMark05, the performance difference in most real-life benchmarks was significant. This was surprising at first, because experience tells us that performance differences can typically be found in most synthetic benchmarks, while little of it is eventually reflected in real-life benchmarks.” –

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cache-size-matter,1709.html

Visit the AMD or Intel websites to find out what the technical specifications, including the cache sizes, for their current processors are.

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