Category Archives: Computer Hardware

L1 Cache

What is L1 Cache?

L1 Cache refers to level 1 cache or internal cache. It is a memory bank built in the processor core used for storing information recently accessed by a processor. It is also referred to as the primary cache as it is the cache closest to the processor.

Function

Caching lies in a principle in computer science called locality of reference. This principle declares that when a processor is referred to a certain location in its memory, it is most likely that the processor would refer to it again in the near future. Employing a cache to store recently accessed memory values keeps the processor from going to the memory each time it is asked to reload them. This results in a considerable boost in its performance as a computer’s main memory is often slower than the processor’s cache.

L1 cache speeds up the access of recently accessed information by first checking if the memory data requested by the processor is already loaded in the cache. The cache controller on the chip performs this function with the use of special circuitry. If the requested memory value is already loaded in the cache, the system is spared the time it would take to retrieve the information from the main memory.

Organization of L1 Cache

There are generally two ways in which a processor can organize its L1 cache:

  1. Some processors utilize a unified or integrated cache, which is a single cache used to hold both microprocessor instructions and program data.
  2. Other processors split their L1 cache into two caches of equal size. One cache is used to hold program data, whilst the other is used to hold microprocessor instructions.

Nonetheless, there is no significant difference in the overall performance of either the unified and separate cache.

Specifications

The typical size of an L1 cache ranges from 8kb to 64kb. Newer processors have larger amounts, whilst older processors have no primary cache at all.

L1 caches are the fastest memory in the computer as they run at the speed of the processor and they are incorporated in it. They are also often set associative to improve the chances of getting a hit on the cache.

CPU Benchmark

Benchmarking is the process of running a set of computer programs or operations in order to evaluate the performance of an object through various standard tests. This can be done to test the performance of the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a computer. CPUs are the brains of computers, completing the processes requested by the users from the system.

What are Its Purposes?

CPU Benchmark can assess the performance characteristics of certain computer hardware, such as the CPU. It can also be applicable to computer software in certain instances.

It evaluates the performance of various subsystems across different system architectures, shows how a database manager responds under different conditions, and helps in comparing computer system performance. Tests are developed to perform these comparisons. It is also able to imitate a specific type of workload on a system or component.

There are two types of benchmarks: Synthetic and Application.

Synthetic benchmarks perform operations by creating programs that enforce the workload on the component. They are useful in testing individual components, such as a certain networking device.

Application benchmarks, on the other hand, perform real-world programs. They provide a better measure of the real-world performance of a particular system.

CPU benchmark gives processor architects the ability to decide and make trade-offs with regard to micro-architectural choices. This is particularly important in making CPU designs.

Commonly Used CPU Benchmark Tests

There are a lot of CPU benchmark tests available in the market today. The benchmarking program to be used depends on what the user wants tested. Each individual program has specific specialties. Some measure the speed of the CPU when processing instructions. Others check the math capabilities of processors. Some combine the two while giving detailed information on the processor.

Consideration should be given on the compatibility of the benchmark tools, and the hardware and parts. The benchmark chosen should be able to work on the system. There are a number of benchmarks online that could perform the needed services.

Dual Core

Dual-core process computers have Central Processing Units (CPUs) that possess two independent execution cores. Each of the cores corresponds to its own processor. These CPUs also contain two combined processors, along with their respective controllers and cache memories, integrated into a singular circuit, known as a silicon chip.

Knowing Its Purposes

A dual-core process computer is developed to perform multitasking, as well as to handle miscellaneous tasks unrelated to one another. It has the ability to run several tasks and programs simultaneously because the CPU has independent interfaces. It can also conduct intensive execution and computing tasks at the same time.

What are Its Benefits?

A dual-core process computer is quick and efficient. It exhibits superior task completion and program execution abilities. Complex games and heavier programs can be executed in a dual-core process computer system.

A dual-core process computer can simultaneously perform two different tasks efficiently. With a single core processor, the CPU would not be able to accommodate these tasks at the same time. It couldn’t handle the operation and would be bogged down.

In addition to these, the prices of many dual-core systems and chips have started coming down.

Dual-Core Process Computers

There are several commercially available computers in the market which come with dual-core technology. Some of the more popular are the dual-core machines manufactured by Pentium.

Pentium Core Duo is based on either the 64-bit Allendale or Merom processors which are maintained for desktop computers, or the 32-bit Yonah processor targeted for mobile computers. Both have different architecture.

The dual-core technology was eventually developed for use with portable computers such as notebooks and laptops. Intel developed this technology with the Pentium T2080 and the T2060.

One of the notable dual-core processors for laptops is the 32-bit Pentium M. Its architecture was derived from the Yonah core.

Intel also released desktop dual-core processors from the Pentium brand, namely E2160 and E2140.

SPDIF Cable

SPDIF Cables are used to transfer data from players to stereo speakers. This kind of cable was manufactured by Sony and Philips. SPDIF actually represents both the physical cable specifications and the protocol for the data link layer. SPDIF or S/PDIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format or Sony Philips Digital InterFace.

The cable is often used to send compressed data interpreted as a digital audio signal by speakers. It is also used to connect DVD players to speakers capable of DTS or Dolby surround sound. It can carry uncompressed audio signals from CD players to speakers. It can connect personal computers to speakers as well.

There are a number of SPDIF Cable models currently available in the market. They can direct digital audio signal transfers between devices and components without losing quality. They can also protect the signals from outside electromagnetic interferences.

The RCA Jack Cable

The RCA Jack is a type of electrical cable commonly used in the audio/video market.

The cables are usually color coded to differentiate their uses. Yellow cables are for composite video, white or black for the left channel of stereo audio, and red for the right channel of a stereo audio.

The cable has a standard plug at each end, known as the RCA plug or Phono plug. It consists of a central male connector enclosed by a ring. This ring is usually segmented to allow flexibility. The center pin is of 3.70 mm in diameter and the outer shell has a diameter of 8.25 mm. The ring of metal around the jack’s central hole is longer than the ring on the plug and is slightly smaller in diameter. This enables the plug’s ring to fit tightly over the jack’s ring. The plug also contains an insulator (plastic) between the outer and inner rings.

Its name was derived from Radio Corporation of America, which is responsible for introducing the design that permits mono phonograph players to be connected to amplifiers. It is also known as the CINCH/AV connector or Phono connector.

The RCA Jack cable may be used as a power connector or a loud speaker cable. It is also able to send composite video signals. However, it has a poor impedance matching. This cable is also used to carry SPDIF-formatted digital audio.

BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) Connector

The BNC Connector uses digital recording. It sends and receives a signal that is meant for both the “left” and “right” channels. It resembles an analog RCA cable, but only has one RCA connector instead of two.

It is a connector commonly used for terminating the coaxial cable. It comes in 50 and 75 ohm versions and is usually specified for use at frequencies of up to 4 and 2 GHz, respectively.

The connector is used for RF signal connections and to connect amateur radio antenna. It may also be employed for analog and Serial Digital Interface video signals, for aviation electronics (avionics), as electronic test equipment, and as an alternative to the RCA connector when utilized for composite videos on commercial devices.

TOSLINK or Optical Cable

TOSLINK is an optical fiber connection system commonly used through a digital optical socket in consumer audio equipment. It can carry digital audio streams between devices such as CD players, DAT recorders, and MiniDiscs.

It is used to connect CD players to receivers for Pulse-code modulation audio streams. It may also be utilized to connect digital audio stream to Dolby Digital/DTS decoders in some DVD players and game consoles.

The cable can be composed of either higher quality multi-strand plastic optical fibers, quartz glass optical fibers, or economical 1 mm plastic optical fibers, depending on the desired application and bandwidth. The optical fiber helps in eliminating line noise or other electromagnetic phenomena.

It was created by Toshiba Corporation and was formerly called Toshiba-LINK. It has a limited length of 5 meters, with a maximum of 10 meters for consistent transmission unless one is using a signal booster.

Additional Reading on SPDIF

Overclock CPU

Overclocking is a procedure often done to make a computer perform faster. The process can be applied to certain hardware components to make it perform at a higher clock rate.

The clock rate refers to the number of clock cycles per second. It is the speed in which the computer performs simple processes. Clock rate is measured in hertz.

Overclocking can be done on a number of computer parts, like processors, video cards, and motherboard chipsets.

The process is often done by computer enthusiasts who want to make their computer system run faster. Some computer resellers overclock a low-cost system and resell it for a profit.

Computer parts are marked with a specific performance rate. These may be the exact rate at which the parts passed standard testing. Some parts are marked at a lower rate to ensure that they do not malfunction. Manufacturers may rate parts at a lower rate to make sure that they are sold at a standard rate instead of being marked as a high-end component.

Before overclocking a computer, the user must make sure that the system is capable of handling the changes, and that the motherboard is capable of being overclocked. Some chipsets lack the features that allow their clock rates to be changed.

An overclocked system requires more power than the original system, but using incorrect settings or too much power can damage it. Overclocking the computer will also make it generate more heat. A new cooling system may be needed to counteract this effect. The system may become unstable after it has been overclocked. The warranty of the computer will also be voided once the system has been modified.

Two Ways to Overclock

There are two ways to overclock a CPU. Each has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. The first is through manipulating the CPU multiplier and the other is through the motherboard’s front side bus (FSB).

When using the multiplier, computer users can only overclock the CPU and nothing else. They can diagnose any problems easier because no other components are involved. Computer users also have more freedom because it is relatively stable in relation to the other components. Although it is the most preferred way to overclock the CPU, it also possesses some disadvantages. The multiplier method can only be used for high end CPUs.

The Front Side Bus, on the other hand, is the most common method of overclocking the CPU. It can effectively speed up the rest of the computer system.

However, there may be times that other components of the computer will not be able to keep up once the user has overclocked the CPU. Components like RAM have a tendency to slow down with an overclocked CPU.