Traditionally computer processor design and innovation has advanced at an exceedingly fast rate. As a corollary, the market for computer processors is vast and often times confusing to a first time explorer. However, learning the key feature sets and functions that set each processor apart from one another is not very difficult at all.
Since the inception of mainstream computing into the homes of society there has been but two consumer and commercial level computer processor manufacturers. The Intel corporation is undoubtedly the first name any consumer thinks of when the word processor is mentioned. Intel has been producing the most top-of-the-line computer processors for several decades now. AMD or Advanced Micro Devices is Intel's only true competitor in the computer processor market producing computer processors which rival the speed and power of Intel's.
When considering the architecture of a computer processor, there are really only a few key factors to consider. Whether the processor has a 32-bit or 64-bit core determines whether or not the processor can run your software correctly. The amount of on die processor cache memory is also of importance, as this integrated memory space is where processor instructions are held before execution. Finally, is the system a single, dual or quad core processor. While multicore processors do have their advantages there is still a lack of software able to utilize multicore processors.
The clock speed of a computer processor determines the rate at which a processor executes instructions on data. Today this rate of execution is expressed in billions of instructions per second. Though having a computer processor with a high clock speed is advantageous, it alone is not the only factor that dictates overall system performance. Higher clock speeds increase all system tasks, such as web browsing, movie encoding, and system utilities like anti-virus software.
Computer processors must be maintained according to their manufacturer's specifications in order to perform at their full potential. All too often consumers will pick an expensive cutting edge processor while neglecting support hardware for their processor. Different processors require different power supplies, proper heat sink/ fan combos, and adequate memory in order to function correctly. Above all, different processors require different cooling solutions. Each processor has its own TDP (Thermal Design Power) which is an indication of heat output which must be dissipated..
The most recent offerings from Intel and AMD are the Core i7 quad core and Phenom II quad core processors respectively. The Core i7 supersedes the Core 2 series of dual and quad core Intel processors and the Phenom II supersedes the Phenom I dual and quad core model AMD processors. Outside of extreme gaming or high-end 3D graphics applications, even the Phenom II and Core 2 older model processors are more than adequate for the home user and come at a much lower price point in most cases.