How Clock Speed Works

In computing, the clock speed refers to the rate at which the clock generator of a processor can formulate pulses, which synchronize the operations of its parts. Experts use Clock Speed as an indicator of the processor's speed. You can calculate it in clock cycles per second or equal, the SI unit hertz (Hz). Therefore, experts measure it in megahertz and gigahertz.

One megahertz is the same as one million cycles per second, while one gigahertz is equivalent to one billion cycles per second. Hence, this means a 1.8 GHz processor has two times the clock speed of a 900 MHz processor. Nevertheless, it is fundamental to add that a 1.8 GHz CPU is not inevitably two times as fast as a 900 MHz CPU. You can owe it to the fact that manufacturers build different processors differently.

The overall performance of a computer is also affected by other factors. These factors include the number of processors, the bus speed, cache size, speed of the RAM, and HDD or SSD speed. Hence, the processor's clock speed is not the only determinant of a computer's speed; it is a vital factor but not the only one. Video card and CPU producers often select their highest performing units from a manufacturing batch and place their topmost clock rate higher, attracting a higher price.

Example of Clock Speed

Computers use an internal clock to integrate all of their calculations. The clock makes sure that the several circuits inside a computer work in unison at the same time. Clock speed is estimated by how many ticks per second the clock makes. In measuring computer clock speed, one hertz is equivalent to one tick per second.

Assuming a computer has a processor of 1.8 MHz, the internal clock completes 1.8 million ticks per second. The same applies to a processor of 1 GHz; it means that the internal clock completes one billion ticks per second. Experts use the clock speed as a rough estimate of how fast a computer is.

For a second example, a processor may need more clock cycles to conclude a multiplication instruction than another processor. A multiplication instruction can be completed by the 1.8 GHz CPU in four cycles, while the 900 MHz completes the same instruction in six cycles. The 1.8 GHz processor will complete the instruction more than twice as fast as the 900 MHz processor. If the same instruction takes the 1.8 GHz processor more cycles to perform, it will be less than two times as fast as the 900 MHz processor.

Significance of Clock Speed

Here is a short list of the clock speed's importance.

  • A computer's processor clock speed ascertains how fast the central processing unit (CPU) can retrieve and understand instructions. It aids your computer to conclude more tasks by getting them done quicker.
  • Experts estimate clock speeds in gigahertz (GHz), with a higher number resulting in higher clock speed.
  • Higher clock speeds mean that you'll see instructions ordered from your CPU completed faster, making your experience smooth and decreasing the time you wait to interface with your best programs.
  • The founders created multi-core processors to aid CPUs to run quicker as it became harder to improve clock speed.