Computer Speed

Many people use clock speed as a measure of a computer’s total computing power, but that term can be very misleading for a couple of reasons. To really understand why this is so, you need to know a little about how the computer processes commands.

The computer keeps all its devices synchronized by using its clock. This isn’t a regular clock—it’s a “clock in a chip,” which keeps highly accurate time and ticks much more rapidly than a wall clock. The faster the computer’s clock ticks, the more quickly the device can move on to a new task. The central processing unit (CPU), the computer’s main processor, needs a certain number of clock ticks to execute each of its instructions. Therefore, the faster the clock ticks (that is, the “clock ...

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