Processing power remains one of the key determinants in calculating a computer systems overall speed and power, and a slow processor can unnecessarily bog down otherwise speedy hardware. Intel and AMD represent the largest and second-largest producers of computer microprocessors, respectively, and both produce processors with a wide variety of power and speed. Neither company has a monopoly on powerful processors, and each have options for high-power machines as well as budget models.
Intel groups its processors into several series. Current series include the Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron and Xeon brands, with most series containing options for both desktop and laptop computers. One of their most powerful desktop processors, the Core i7 Extreme Edition, includes up to six processor cores with a speed of 3.46 GHz each. Lines such as the Pentium provide less powerful devices, mostly two-core processors with speeds around 3.0 GHz.
AMD also provides several separate series of processors, each with several individual models. The Phenom 2 processor is among their most powerful, boasting both quad-core and six-core designs running at up to 3.6 GHz. Budget lines such as the Athlon 2 and Sempron processors run at more modest speeds, clocking in at up to 3.1 GHz on dual-core and quad-core machines. AMD has notebook processor models, although they use separate designations than their desktop lines.
AMD and Intel product performances have a large amount of overlap in both the high-end and low-end of processing power. For instance, the AMD Phenom 2 is roughly equivalent in power to Intel's Extreme Edition Core i7 and the Sempron and Pentium lines offer similar power as well.
With powerful processors in the lineup of both manufacturers, cost becomes a primary issue when choosing a CPU. In that regard, AMD often offers CPUs of similar raw power at a lower price than Intel, although cost is not the only thing making the devices unique. Each manufacturer includes several proprietary technologies in their processors, such as Intel's SpeedStep features for dynamically changing processor speeds and AMD's Turbo Core for managing the CPU between multitasking and processing power.
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