Processors: Intel and AMD CPUs

The manufacturing fabrication process measured in nanometers (nm)

The manufacturing fabrication process is measured in nanometres (US: nanometer) – millionths of an inch, which measures the width of the wiring. The current smallest manufacturing process is 14nm (2014). The smaller the manufacturing process, the faster and cooler the processor can run and the less energy it uses, thereby extending battery life for mobile computers. The history and anticipated future of the fabrication process is provided in the following Wikipedia article.

Semiconductor device fabrication – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor_device_fabrication

If you require high performance from a computer’s processor, forget about the processor specifications, which are meaningless to most people, choose a processor that you can afford and read the reviews that provide comparative benchmark tests that can be found using any of the popular search engines. Note that any dual-core or higher processor will be able to run office applications, use the web, watch videos, etc., but you need the best components you can afford to play the latest PC games do video editing and provide you with some future-proofing so that you won’t need to upgrade the processor and graphics card to play games a few years into the future.

The following webpage provides a quick video guide on how to install a processor, its cooling unit and RAM memory on a motherboard and how to install the motherboard in a tower desktop PC case. Before you install the components of a desktop PC into the case, you should always read the motherboard’s user manual, downloaded from its manufacturer’s website that particular model if you don’t have a paper copy.

The following video guide does not provide information on aligning the processor the correct way around, making sure that you have the correct DDR3 RAM memory for the motherboard, that there are several ways that the heatsink and fan cooling unit is installed, depending on the processor’s socket type, etc. You should never use a brief video guide like that one to find out how to upgrade a motherboard or build a desktop PC. There is quite a lot more to it than is shown in the video.

How to upgrade your motherboard: video guide –

http://www.alphr.com/features/353893/how-to-upgrade-your-motherboard-video-guide

Boxed retail processors come in the manufacturer’s official packaging with installation instructions and often with a heatsink-and-fan cooling unit.

Installing the processor (CPU) and its heatsink-and-fan or liquid-cooling unit –

https://www.pcbuyerbeware.co.uk/hardware/build-your-own-pc/12/

Note that if you are using any version of Windows from XP to Windows 10, upgrading the motherboard can create issues with Windows Product Activation, especially if the PC is using an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) licence that brand-name manufacturers such as Dell and HP use, which can only ever be used on the PC it was first installed on, because Microsoft regards changing the motherboard as having a new PC, which requires a new licensed copy of Windows.

The manufacturer of a particular model of processor sets it to run at a particular stock speed, which is really the frequency (measured in gigahertz – GHz- in modern processors) that it operates at. The higher the frequency (1GHz, 2GHz, 2.5GHz, 3.0GHz, 4.0GHz, etc.) the faster the processor can process data. Note that the design and the size of the fabrication process, which, at the time of writing this was 14nm, is also an important factor in how fast a particular make/model of processor processes data.

Most processors can be overclocked to run faster than the manufacturer’sstock  setting allows; some more than others. The amount of speed/frequency overhead that a particular processor has depends on several factors, such as whether the CPU’s clock multiplier is locked or not.

Note that Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 processors have a feature called Turbo Boost that automatically overclocks the processor. The Core i3 processors do not have it, but do have Hyper Threading, discussed further down in this article, which creates a virtual core for each real core. A virtual core increases performance when running many applications at once or several applications that have been programmed for multithreading (running multiple threads of data streams at once), but not as much as a real core.

Intel’s Turbo Boost technology – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Turbo_Boost

Intel Turbo Boost Technology frequently asked questions –

http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-029908.htm?wapkw=(turbo+boost)

The automatic-overclocking technology used by AMD’s hexa-core Phenom II X6 processors is called Turbo CORE.

AMD Turbo Core – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Turbo_Core

CORE Or Boost? AMD’s And Intel’s Turbo Features Dissected –

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/turbo-boost-turbo-core-six-core,review-31958.html

Most of Intel’s processors since the Pentium 4 use technology called Hyper-Threading. It is available in Intel’s Atom, Core i7, the new Core i3 (with an inbuilt graphics chip) and Core i5 processors. In the case of a single-core Atom processor (dual-core models are also available), it makes the processor work as if it is a dual-core processor. The technology works well to increase a single-core processor’s speed, but is less effective in adding a virtual core to every real core with dual-core (two processor cores) and quad-core (four cores) processors, hexa-core processors (six cores), etc. Virtual cores do speed up the running of applications, but are never as efficient or as fast as real cores.

In 2011, AMD was the first manufacturer to release a range of 8-core (octa-core) processors called AMD FX.

To find out how many actual cores and virtual cores (if it is an Intel processor with Hyper-Threading) your computer has, access the Task Manager (instructions how to do that in Windows 7/8.1/10 is provided earlier in this article). Open the Performance tab. The cores and virtual cores are each represented by a graphic box showing performance. AMD processors will display the same number of boxes as the number of cores. A dual-core processor with Hyper-Threading (HT) will show four boxes (two actual cores and two virtual cores).

The Intel Core i3 range is dual-core with HT, so four graphic displays will be shown. The Core i5 range with HT is quad-core, so eight boxes will be displayed. The Core i7 range is quad-core or hexa-core, so eight or twelve boxes are displayed.

Note that some motherboard manufacturers, such as MSI, have developed automatic overclocking technology that overclocks the system automatically.

The MSI K9A2 Platinum (AMD Socket AM2+) motherboard provides this technology. The following is an extract from its user manual.

“Dynamic Overclocking Technology is an automatic overclocking function, included in the MSI’s newly developed Dual CoreCenter Technology. It is designed to detect the loading of CPU/GPU [graphics processing unit] while running programs, and to over-clock automatically. When the motherboard detects that the loading of CPU exceeds the default threshold for a time, it will speed up the CPU and fan automatically to make the system run smoother and faster. When the graphics card detects that the loading of GPU exceeds the default threshold for a time, it will speed up the GPU, memory, fan and voltage automatically to make the system run smoother and faster. When the use of CPU/GPU is temporarily suspended or staying in low-loading balance, it will restore the default settings instead. Usually the Dynamic Overclocking Technology will be powered only when user’s PC runs huge amounts of data, like 3D games or video processes, and the motherboard/graphics card needs to be boosted to enhance the overall performance.” [Grammatically-corrected by me.]

NEXT PAGEProcessor/CPU cooling – heatsink-and-fan and liquid cooling units