Home : Technical Terms : Clock Speed Definition

Clock Speed

Clock speed is the rate at which a processor can complete a processing cycle. It is typically measured in megahertz or gigahertz. One megahertz is equal to one million cycles per second, while one gigahertz equals one billion cycles per second. This means a 1.8 GHz processor has twice the clock speed of a 900 MHz processor.

However, it is important to note that a 1.8 GHz CPU is not necessarily twice as fast as a 900 MHz CPU. This is because different processors often use different architectures. For example, one processor may require more clock cycles to complete a multiplication instruction than another processor. If the 1.8 GHz CPU can complete a multiplication instruction in 4 cycles, while the 900 MHz CPU takes 6 cycles, the 1.8 GHz processor will perform the operation more than twice as fast as the 900 MHz processor. Conversely, if the 1.8 GHz processor takes more cycles to perform the same instruction, it will be less than 2x as fast as the 900 MHz processor.

Other factors also contribute to the overall performance of a computer. Examples include the number of processors, the bus speed, cache size, speed of the RAM, and HDD or SSD speed. Therefore, while the processor's clock speed is a significant indicator of how fast a computer is, it is not the only factor that matters.

Updated: May 22, 2017

Cite this definition:

https://techterms.com/definition/clockspeed

TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definiton of Clock Speed. It explains in computing terminology what Clock Speed means and is one of many technical terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Clock Speed definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!