CPU Price – Processor Choosing Guide

The central processing unit (CPU) is the computer component, a electronic circuitry,  that’s responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands from the computer’s other hardware and software. CPU price depends mainly on speed and calculation capacity.

All sorts of devices use a CPU, which refers to a processor, including desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, smartphones and even, now a days, the flat-screen television sets. There are many different names used to describe the CPU, including processor, computer processor, microprocessor, central processor, and “the brains of the computer.

Intel and AMD are the two most popular CPU manufacturers for desktops, laptops, and servers, while Apple, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm are big smartphone and tablet CPU makers.

 

Comparison Table

Brand & Model Spec Gaming Desktop Workstation CPU Price Preferred Motherboard
Intel BX80677I77700K
Core i7-7700K
 

4 Cores, 8 Threads
@4.2GHz Kaby Lake (2017)

 

109%

 

94%

 

74%

 

 

 

Asus STRIX Z270E GAMING

AMD YD1700BBAEBOX
Ryzen 7 1700
 

8 Cores, 16 Threads
@3.0GHz Zen (2017)

 

84%

 

82%

 

91%

 

 

 

Motherboard: Asus PRIME X370-PRO

Intel BX80677I57600K
Core i5-7600K
 

4 Cores, 4 Threads
@3.8GHz Kaby Lake (2017)

 

96%

 

93%

 

58%

 

 

 

Asus PRIME Z270-A

Intel BX80684I38100
Core i3-8100
4 Cores, 4 Threads
@3.6GHz Coffee Lake (2017)
 

82%

 

80%

 

50%

 

 

 

MSI Z370-A PRO (MS-7B48)

Intel BX80646G3258
Pentium G3258
 

2 Cores, 2 Threads
@3.2GHz Haswell (2013)

 

48%

 

61%

 

28%

 

 

 

MSI H81M-P33 (MS-7817)

 

Table of Content

  1. AMD Processor List
  2. Intel Processors
  3. CPU Components
  4. AMD vs Intel : Who wins?
  5. Difference between Core i3, i5 and i7 processors
  6. Difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit processor
  7. Desktop vs Service CPU
  8. Software/Application for multiple processors/Cores/Threads

 

AMD processors

K6-2
K6-III
Athlon
Duron
Athlon XP
Sempron
Athlon 64
Mobile Athlon 64
Athlon XP-M
Athlon 64 FX
Turion 64
Athlon 64 X2
Turion 64 X2
Phenom FX
Phenom X4
Phenom X3
Athlon 6-series
Athlon 4-series
Athlon X2
Phenom II
Athlon II
E2 series
A4 series
A6 series
A8 series
A10 series

 

Intel processors

4004
8080
8086
8087
8088
80286 (286)
80386 (386)
80486 (486)
Pentium
Pentium w/ MMX
Pentium Pro
Pentium II
Celeron
Pentium III
Pentium M
Celeron M
Pentium 4
Mobile Pentium 4-M
Pentium D
Pentium Extreme Edition
Core Duo
Core 2 Duo
Core i3
Core i5
Core i7

The AMD Opteron series and Intel Itanium and Xeon series are CPUs used in servers and high-end workstation computers.

Some mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, use ARM CPUs. These CPUs are smaller in size, require less power, and generate less heat.

CPU Components

Appropriately, it is the practice to refer to software as the brain and the CPU as a very efficient calculator. A CPU is really good with numbers, but if it wasn’t for the software it wouldn’t know how to do anything else. Every clock cycle it tells other components what to do.

A typical CPU has a number of components. In the CPU, the primary components are the ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) that performs mathematical, logical, and decision operations and the CU (Control Unit) that directs all of the processors operations. The ALU is where the calculations occur, but how do these calculations actually get carried out? To a computer, the world consists of zeros and ones. Inside a processor, we can store zeros and ones using transistors. These are microscopic switches that control the flow of electricity depending on whether the switch is on or off. So the transistor contains binary information: a one if a current passes through and a zero if a current does not pass through.

Second is the control unit (CU), which manages the various components of the computer. It reads and interprets instructions from memory and transforms them into a series of signals to activate other parts of the computer. The control unit calls upon the arithmetic logic unit to perform the necessary calculations.

Third is the cache, which serves as high-speed memory where instructions can be copied to and retrieved. Early CPUs consisted of many separate components, but since the 1970s, they have been constructed as a single integrated unit called a microprocessor. As such, a CPU is a specific type of microprocessor. Startup time is probably the only time the CPU is under stress, and even then it’s often limited due to the hard drive speed.

The individual components of a CPU have become so integrated that you can’t even recognize them from the outside. This CPU is about two inches by two inches in size.

 

Top-view of an Intel CPU – because it is a single integrated unit, the components are not visible from the outside top-view of Intel CPU

 

 

 

 

Bottom-view of an Intel CPU – the gold plated pins provide the connections to the motherboard bottom-view of Intel CPU

 

CPUs are located on the motherboard. Motherboards have a socket for this, which is specific for a certain type of processor. A CPU gets very hot and therefore needs its own cooling system in the form of a heat sink and/or fan, much of this heat can not be moved out of the computer’s case by several fans.

 

AMD vs Intel: Who wins?

AMD and Intel took different paths with processor designs. Intel carried on resolutely working to get the most single-threaded performance it could out of one core while AMD bet the house on multi-threaded performance being the key to the future.

During an everyday workload, a top-end AMD chip and a top-end Intel chip won’t produce radically different outcomes. There are clear distinctions in specific scenarios and benchmarks, but the CPU isn’t the keystone of PC performance that it once was.

That said, AMD’s CPUs, especially at the mid-range and lower-end of the spectrum, do tend to offer slightly better value than Intel’s. Conversely, Intel chips have stronger single core and gaming performance than even AMD’s best Threadripper CPUs. In return, those looking to use applications with a heavier multi-threaded focus, should derive more benefit from a modern AMD CPU.

There is no doubt that both Intel and AMD are great CPUs manufacturers. However, if cpu price is not important then Intel is the preferred option even they are more expensive but the performance is better.

The increased need for mobile productivity and entertainment has given rise to a relatively new class of devices: smartphones and tablets. ARM is well-known for the design of mobile, power-efficient processor designs. In recent years it has seen its technology used in the products of many prominent electronics companies. Apple’s A4/A5/A5X, Nvidia’s Tegra, Samsung’s Exynos and Texas Instruments’ OMAP products all integrate ARM processors into what is known as a system-on-a-chip (SoC). SoCs merge many of the essential components of a computer (such as the CPU, RAM, ROM etc.) on a single chip which allows devices that utilize them to be lightweight and compact. These SoCs have gone on to be implemented in blockbuster products such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad or Samsung’s series of Galaxy phones. ARM’s presence as the CPU and architecture of choice on many mobile devices cannot be understated as estimates put their numbers in the billions.

What’s the difference between Core i3, i5 and i7 processors?

A core can be thought of as in individual processor. A dual-core processor, therefore has two internal processors, a quad-core model has four. More cores are useful for multi-tasking; for example, you can run two applications at the same time, each one having access to its own dedicated processor.

Model Core i3 Core i5 Core i7
Number of cores 2 4 4
Hyper-threading Yes No Yes
Turbo boost No Yes Yes
K model No Yes Yes

The feature table above shows you how the most popular processors line-up in terms of features. Note that there are exceptions, but you’re mostly unlikely to encounter these odd models when buying a new CPU.

The CPU will be where you want to spend the largest part of your rig budget, but it doesn’t pay to completely unbalance your machine. A cheap, quad-core AMD CPU isn’t going to let you get the most out of your GTX 1080; your two key components need to be better matched than that. Of course, if you’re Billy Big Budget then you can happily drop just shy of three grand on an i7 6950X with a new Titan Xp to keep it company, but if money’s a little tighter than that you need to play it a little smarter.

What is the difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit processor?

From a practical standpoint, the true difference at hand is the ability to run a 32-bit operating system (OS) versus a 64-bit OS and their subsequent applications. Technically, 64-bit allows the processor to address larger chunks of data from physical memory (RAM) than their 32-bit counterparts. Hence, while the maximum amount of RAM for a 32-bit system is 4GB, for a 64-bit system there is no practical limit except where artificially imposed by a specific version of an OS or system manufacturer—for example, Windows 7 Home Edition allows for up to 16GB of RAM where Professional and Ultimate allows up to 192GB.

The benefit of 64-bit arises in dealing with the increasing sophistication of applications as well as working with and processing large files with greater efficiency. Most modern CPUs such as any of Intel’s iX series are 64-bit and virtually any new configuration of a machine with these processors include a 64-bit OS. It is important to note that while 64-bit CPUs can typically run 32-bit applications, the reverse is not true.

Desktop vs Server CPU

A server CPU has more error checking and would run games slower because of it. It would also the high CPU price  and (typically) require a server motherboard which would not be optimized for pushing pixels.

Server Processor basics – Multi Processors Multi Cores and Multi Threads
When it comes to Server Processors, there are too many confusing terms used by the vendors – Multiple Processors, Multiple Sockets, Multiple Cores, Multiple threads, etc. In this article, let us try to decipher what all these terms mean, along with their implications for applications that run on the computer servers.

The necessity for Multiple Processors/ Cores:

A Server processor (CPU) is one of the main components of a Server where all the computations required to complete various tasks assigned to them are performed. As you can guess, the processor performance (speed – determined by the clock frequency at which it works – for example 1.5 Ghz) plays an important role as applications become more and more demanding.

But a single processor has its performance limits. Previously, its performance was increased by increasing the clock frequency at which it works. But when they tried to increase the clock frequency beyond 3 Ghz, the amount of heat generated in the processor made it impossible for the normal working of a processor.

So, the only way to increase the performance capacity of the server was to add additional processors to the same server, and make all these processors work in tandem with each other. This brought about three different innovations – Multiple Processors (in multiple sockets), Multiple Cores (within each socket) and Multiple Threads (within each core).

Multiple Processors (In multiple sockets):

This is the simplest terminology. Multiple processors mean just that – multiple processors in a single server that work together to complete the computational tasks. Each processor usually has its own socket (Integrated Circuit, Cache Memory & Bus Interface). So, one socket can hold one processor, and all these processors are connected together using high speed bus circuitry. So, Dual Processor Server means, the server could hold two processors (max).

Every server has a limitation on the maximum number of processors that can be accommodated (Like Single Socket, 2 Sockets, 4 Sockets, etc). Increasing the number of processors is the best way to increase server performance, but this method is not cost effective. The number of servers required for an application would come down if multiple processors are inserted in to the same server.

Multiple Cores (Within each socket):

Every processor is made using integrated Circuits. With improvements in Integrated Circuit technology, it was possible to pack more and more components (transistors, etc) within the size of a processor die. So, the circuitry required for two (or more) separate processors were integrated in to one die, to make multi-core processors. Each core is logically separate from others, so the components meant for individual cores within a single processor die do not functionally overlap.

The main difference between multiple cores (in a single processor die) and multiple physical processors, in-spite of having same processing capacity, is the fact that multiple cores can be inserted in to a single socket and multiple cores share certain processor resources like Cache Memory & Bus Interface. With multi-core processors, servers can save a lot of space along with increasing the performance.

Though the performance of multiple cores is not as good as multiple individual processors, its considerably better than a single core processor (at least 50% improvement for each additional core). Another advantage is the fact that all the cores combined together achieve higher performance using lesser power for each core, than individual processors. But some processing power of multi core processors are reserved for managing communication between the processors. There are dual-core, quad-core, 6-core, 12-core (and even 96 cores) available today within a single processor die.

Multiple Threads (Within each core):

When an individual core within a processor die is executing instructions, it normally does not utilize the entire capacity of the core. So, a concept called multi-threading was introduced. With multiple threading, each core can execute two (or more) individual processing cycles simultaneously. So, by using multi-threading, the unused resources within each processor are utilized more effectively and the performance of the processor increases.

So, if there are two processors in a server, and each processor is dual-core based, and each core supports two threads, the server can execute eight threads simultaneously at any given point of time. Though multiple threads can be executed within each core, the most common configuration utilized in the industry is Dual Threading.

Software/ Applications for Multiple Processors/ Cores/ Threads:

One important consideration that is required to utilize the full capacity of the multi-processors, multi-cores and multi-threads is the fact that the operating system(s) should support Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP) & the applications should be designed to take advantage of parallel processing capabilities. If not, the applications would work as if they are working on a single thread/core/processor.

Its important for application developers to develop applications that can allocate various processes individually tocpu price various threads/ cores, and many coding languages support this. There are also some libraries and compilers provided by the server processor manufacturers, which help create such applications.

With some applications, users (or) operating systems can allocate (or dedicate) resources (processor capacity, RAM, etc) for particular processes. Even individual cores can be dedicated for certain applications. For example, an operating system can allocate a separate core for virus scanning while the main application is running on the other three cores. Even if there are problems with virus scanning, only that core hangs without affecting the application running on the other cores.

Processor/ Core Interconnect Fabric/ L2 Cache Optimization:

Since multiple cores (and even multiple processors) need to be communicating with each other constantly, it is important to optimize the interconnect fabric (perhaps by increasing its capacity or connecting them using mesh configurations) that connect various cores/ processors with the memory units.

Even the L2 Cache (This is the memory unit which is required for storing the common operations of the processors while performing computations) is generally optimized by processor vendors. For example, the data is stored on a common L2 cache and can be accessed by all the cores/ processors, so that even when the value of the variables change, the new value is available to the next core or processor accessing it. The amount of memory available in L2 cache in such situations is increased to accommodate the needs of multi-cores/ processors.

64 bit Vs 32 bit Applications:

Certain applications are written for 64-bit processors. A 64-bit processor supports a wider range of calculations to be performed using a wider range of numbers. The capacity/ speed of the application processing is improved when using a 64-bit application. But to take advantage of 64 bit applications, the Operating System version should also support 64-bit operation and the processor & device drivers should also support 64-bit operation.

Most of the server processors support 64-bit by default, and are backward compatible to support 32-bit applications as well. But all the 32-bit applications may not run smoothly on a 64-bit processor. A 64-bit processor/ application/ OS can (use) take advantage of any size of RAM for their operation, while most 32-bit applications support a maximum of 4 GB RAM (in practice its slightly lesser).

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