What everyone needs to know in order to do an effective computer speed up.

A typical computer system performs many activities and in all areas speed is a consideration but there are different kinds of speed. Some of the areas that should be considered are;
  1. General computation and management of data
  2. Video image presentation and frame rate (Frequency in which video frames are displayed on a monitor, typically described in frames-per-second (fps). Higher frame rates improve the appearance of video motion. Broadcast TV (full motion video) is 30 frames-per-second.) East Carolina University Definition
  3. Internet communication (upload and download), sending and getting data
  4. Peripheral speed such as printer, scanner or other attached devices
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This article will focus on the heart of all computer operations; general computation and management of data. Please refer to the diagram, which will open in a new window when you click here, for the discussion that follows. The brain of the computer is the CPU or Central Processing Unit. This component does all the manipulation, assessment and calculations of data. It does all the math, logical comparisons and arrangement of information. However, it is very limited in that it can only deal with a very small amount of information at a time.

Unlike the human brain, the memory or actual data being manipulated, for the most part, resides in a different part of the computer than the thinking part. The memory area is known as the RAM or Random Access Memory. The CPU has to talk to the memory all the time to get more data and write changed data. Getting data to and from the RAM takes time. Each RAM component has a manufactured speed at which it can be accessed.

Additionally, RAM has a limited size. In order to deal with larger volumes of data the RAM may not be big enough and the hard disk has to be accessed. Hard disk access is orders of magnitude slower than talking to RAM memory.

To complicate matters, for various electrical engineering reasons, the CPU can’t talk directly to the memory. It has to communicate through a communications channel known as the front side bus. It’s as if your brain would have to phone your memory any time it needed to remember anything.

Each of the parts has a speed limit associated with it. The CPU has a certain speed per data manipulation, the Front Side Bus has a speed at which it can talk to the memory, the memory has a speed at which it can be accessed and so does the hard drive. All of them add together to determine the time it takes to get things done.

Time needed for the computer to get data and work on it (in simplified terms) = CPU logic time + time to “travel” on the front side bus + RAM access time + time to talk to the hard drive (if necessary).

What counts the most

The factor that makes the most difference is RAM memory size. If it is big enough, the system will have to go the hard disk less often. This has the most dramatic impact on a computer’s performance. It never pays to stint on the amount of memory that you purchase for your computer.

CPU speed is next in importance. The speed of most CPUs provided in modern systems is enough for most everyday types of operations. Unless you are doing very intensive mathematical calculation, complex database lookups, encryption or intensive graphics such as computer aided design or modeling, you won’t need the highest speed computer.

Bus speed is next. This will depend on the type of motherboard (main system board) that your computer manufacturer provides and basically can’t be changed after the fact for the average user.

Disk speed is the last factor but it should be considered if you are doing intensive database operations.



Return from Computer Speed Up to Ask the Computer Doc home.

2/18/2009



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