Processor speed vs L2 cache

by on April 6, 2010

Q: I had a computer that stopped working while it was under warranty. Instead of fixing the computer the manufacturer sent me a new computer. Most of the items on the new computer look to be better than the old computer that it replaced but I have a question about the processors. The old computer had an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2GHz/800MhzFSB, 4M L2 Cache) and the new one has an Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 (2.53GHz/1068Mhz FSB/3M L2 Cache). Is the increase in speed and front side bus going to make up for the 1MB less L2 cache?

A: First lets cover what L2 cache is. L2 cache or level2 cache is a method for storing data closer to the processor to speed things up. The processor in your computer is a lot faster than the RAM in your computer so in order for your system to run at its best computer engineers came up with Level1 (L1), Level2 (L2), and Level3 (L3) cache to help speed things up by having small amounts of fast memory next to the processor.

By having this quick memory next to the processor the processor has a place it can put data and pull data from very quickly to keep it doing all the calculations that make your computer work. So information would be taken from RAM and placed into your L2 cache, for example, and then processed and then placed back in RAM. It just speeds things up a little and the more information it can store in the smaller quicker caches next to the processor the faster things should run.

It is really easy to tell if one processor will be faster than another based on the caches if they are the same speed. If they are not the same speed then it can be very difficult to figure out how much of a difference the size of the cache will make. In this case the processor is considerably faster and the font side bus, the way the processor accesses the various components in the computer, is considerably faster too so the new processor should be considerably faster than the old processor even though the L2 cache on the old computer was 33% more than on the new computer.

So we think you got a great deal with the free upgrade and we hope you have better luck with the new computer than with the old one.

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