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Clock Speed

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Clock speed, also known as clock rate or clock frequency, is a measure of how fast a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) can execute instructions. It is typically measured in gigahertz (GHz). Higher clock speeds generally mean that a CPU can process more instructions per second, and thus can perform better on tasks that require fast processing.

Some advantages of high clock speed include:

  1. Improved performance: As mentioned, a higher clock speed can result in faster processing and better performance on tasks that require a lot of computational power.
  2. Better multitasking: A CPU with a high clock speed may be able to handle multiple tasks at once more efficiently, allowing for better multitasking.
  3. Greater efficiency: In some cases, a CPU with a high clock speed may be able to complete tasks faster, which can lead to increased efficiency and productivity.

However, there are also some disadvantages to consider:

  1. Increased power consumption: Higher clock speeds typically require more power, which can lead to increased energy consumption and heat production.
  2. Increased cost: CPUs with high clock speeds may be more expensive than those with lower clock speeds.
  3. Limited by other factors: A CPU’s clock speed is just one factor that determines its performance. Other factors, such as the number of cores and the architecture of the CPU, can also impact a computer’s overall performance.

It is usually measured in Megahertz or Gigahertz. In modern CPUs, we measure clock speed in Gigahertz.

1 Megahertz = 1, 000, 000 cycles / sec
1 Gigahertz = 1, 000, 000, 000 cycles / sec 

Examples :

  • A CPU with a clock speed of 4.2 MHz executes 4.2 Million cycles per second.
  • A CPU with a clock speed of 4.2 GHz executes 4.2 Billion cycles per second.

As you can see, as clock speed increases, performance generally improves. However, there is a point at which increasing the clock speed no longer results in a significant increase in performance. This is known as the “performance plateau.”


The speed of the CPU determines the number of calculations it can perform in one second of time. However, the speed of the CPU clock for processing power can be increased by ‘overclocking’. But as you raise the clock speed there can be stability issues and your system might get crashed. Higher clock speeds can generate more heat so, to keep themselves away from dangerous overheating, processors will strangle down to a lower frequency when they get overheated. This can happen when you don’t give enough power to your CPU. Overclocking may also lead to overvolting. Overvolting is when you raise the voltage given to the chip in order to increase the clock speed. Altair 8800, the first commercial PC used an Intel 8080 CPU with a clock rate of 2 MHz (2 Million cycles / sec) and the Intel P5 Pentium has a clock rate of 100 MHz (100 Million cycles / sec). In 2000, AMD was the first processor that reached 1 GHz (1 Billion cycles/sec). In 2002, an Intel Premium 4 was the first CPU with clock rate of 3GHz (3 Billion cycles/sec). In 2012 world record of  highest clock speed is 8.794 GHz achieved by AMD FX-8350 using 2 cores. Highest base clock speed in production is the IBM zEC12, clocked at 5.5 GHz, 

Last Updated : 17 Jan, 2023
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