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Why is the strength or processing capability of a CPU measured in hertz?

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closed as not a real question by sblair, Karan, Xavierjazz, Mike Fitzpatrick, Zoredache May 22 '13 at 1:24

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

A little bit of prior research and reading might help. –  Karan May 22 '13 at 0:58
@Karan I don't think we should discourage "stupid" questions. Beside, I enjoyed writing an answer for this one. –  Isaac Rabinovitch May 22 '13 at 1:11
@IsaacRabinovitch: The question in the title might be acceptable, but not something like "what is a 'good' processing speed?" Also, the rest of the queries clearly show no research effort (see what the downvote arrow states). –  Karan May 22 '13 at 1:13
Is this homework? –  Excellll May 22 '13 at 1:20
@Tony - Because a computer is a electronic device and frequency play an important part in many electronical charastics. –  Ramhound May 22 '13 at 12:05

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hertz is a measure of cyclic change. (It used to be "cycles per second" before they changed it to honor Heinrich Hertz.) In a CPU, Hertz describes clock rate, which is the frequency of a periodic signal that goes out to coordinate what the CPU is doing. The faster the clock, the more instructions the CPU can execute.

Note that clock speed is only one factor in processor speed. If two processors follow the same architecture, then the one with a higher clock speed will indeed be "faster". But some CPU architectures can burn through more instructions at a given clock speed than others. This has become less and less important as Intel-compatible CPUs drove other architectures off the market. However, the rise of mobile computing has brought the architecture issue forward, as device manufacturers choose the less powerful, but also less battery-draining, ARM architecture.

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Funny that nobody likes the question but a lot of folks seem to like my answer. –  Isaac Rabinovitch May 23 '13 at 18:57
Yeah I don't really understand why this question was closed. I just Googled "why is CPU speed measured in hertz" and found this question and your great answer. Perhaps it wasn't asked correctly... +1 anyway! –  Chris Cirefice Nov 3 '14 at 19:05

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