Haha, those aren't easy questions to answer! However I'll try my best, and maybe with my reply and apokalipse's, you'll have a better view of these matters.
1) This one is easy. One Hertz
means simply one cycle per second
. So naturally a Mhz
is a million cycles per second
. It's then obvious that at 1Mhz, each cycle takes 0.000001 seconds (one millionth of a second, or one microsecond
). So if your CPU has a clock speed of 2166MHz, it means each cycle takes 0.0000000005 seconds (that's 0.5 nanoseconds
). Increasing the speed by 1Mhz wouldn't make that much of a difference, since it's already running very fast.
2) When a CPU is "processing" information it's doing four basic things in this particular order: READS
an instruction from the memory, DECODES
the instruction so that it can understand it, EXECUTES
the instruction on the data in the memory, and finally WRITES
the resulting data in the memory. The clock of the CPU just makes sure this sequence of steps is carried out one by one.
3) This is obviously a very complex question. If it were simple, then CPU makers such as Intel and AMD wouldn't be working so hard to produce better and better CPUs. But I think that with the new Conroe CPUs, Intel has proved that a good architecture
is what can potentially give the best performance. Cache is "internal memory" of the CPU, very fast memory at that, but as has been shown by recent benchmarks, it doesn't substantially affects performance.
4) The transistors inside a CPU aren't like the ordinary transistors you can buy at your local electronics shop (these are called bipolar junction transistors). CPUs use a special kind of transistor called MOSFET
, which stands for Metal Oxyde Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor
. How a transistor works, and particularly, how the Field Effect Transistor works, would be very hard to explain unless you're initiated in electronics (and even solid-state physics).
What you need to know, is that transistors allow us to build logic gates
, which are tiny pieces of electronics that can simulate logic functions: AND, OR, NOT, etc, like those apokalipse posted. Transistors also allow to build circuits that can "read" or "write" data from a certain place (like memory).
FETs can be made much smaller than common transistors, so this is why they are used in CPUs. The smaller these FETs are, the better, since they will use less power and more can be packed on the chip die. Current CPU technology is based on a 65nm process
, which means the smallest structures inside a CPU are aprox 65 nanometers in size!
How small is a nanometer? Neurons are typically around 50 nanometers across, the AIDS virus is around 120 nm in diameter, a human red blood cell is typically 6000-8000 nm in diameter, and a human hair typically is 80000 nm in diameter. (from Wiki)
5) How it's built? That I wouldn't really know. I believe it's just a semiconductor wafer on which electronic structures (yes, ultimately made out of transistors) are inserted. When zoomed-in, a CPU looks like a city, each "building" performing some specific function. Here's a pic of the die of a CPU (Athlon64) with some details:
Whew!! That was long! I hope that I was clear enough. These are indeed difficult questions.