Modern desktop processors consist of a processor die that mounts multiple cores capable of independently processing data. Quad-core processors provide four processing cores designed to enhance multitasking. Modern desktop processors include two, three, four and six processing cores. The listed operating frequency for computer processors rates the speed of the individual cores. There are several types of computer processors that are available in a quad-core configuration.
The first generation of AMD Phenom processors is available in dual- and quad-core configurations. The quad-core models are denoted as x4 models. These processors are compatible with socket AM2 and AM2 motherboards. Phenom x4 processors are available in speeds between 1,800 and 2,600 MHz with shared L3 data caches of up to 2 MB.
The second generation of quad-core Phenom processor provides a variety of enhancements over the previous generation. These processors provide significantly increased speeds between 2,500 and 3,600 MHz. The Phenom II X4 processors also provide larger L3 caches that provide up to 6 MB of temporary storage for application data. These processors are designed for socket AM3 but are also backward-compatible with socket AM2 and AM2+ motherboards.
The Core 2 family of processors provides quad-core models from two product lines. Intel's Core 2 Quad processors are available in speeds up to 3,000 MHz. These processors provide an L2 data of cache up to 12 MB in size but do not provide an L3 data cache. Core 2 Quad processors transfer data using a 1,333 MHz front side bus. The Core 2 family also provides quad-core processors from the Core 2 Extreme product line. Core 2 Extreme processors reach speeds of up to 3,200 MHz and have a faster front side bus that reaches speeds of 1,600 MHz. Both types of Core 2 processor are compatible with Socket 775 motherboards.
Core i5 processors include dual- and quad-core processors compatible with Sockets 1155 and 1156. These processors include a number of advanced features, including Turbo Boost and Hyper Threading. Core i5 processors are available in speeds of up to 3.6 GHz and have L2 caches of up to 1 MB; L3 caches can reach 8 MB.
Processors from the Core i7 family includes quad- and hex-core processors. The quad-core models of the i7 family are available in speeds of up to 3.4 GHz, with a 1.5 MB L2 cache and an 8 MB L3 cache. These processors support the same advanced features as the i5 family and use Intel's QuickPath Interconnect data bus.