Speed Misconceptions

You often hear of terms like "terabyte", "gigahertz", and "RAM". But what do these all mean? More is better, right?

  • Friend: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you had a terabyte of everything?"
  • Me: "What do you mean?"
  • Friend: "Oh, a terabyte of hard drive, a terabyte of RAM, a terabyte of processor..."

One of my friends was telling me about his computer.

  • Friend: "I have 256 GHz. of RAM in my new computer!"
  • Me: "Gigahertz is a measure of clock speed or frequency. RAM size is measured in megabytes."
  • Friend: "Then, I have 8.4 MB of RAM!"

Once, my friend told me that his Windows 98 computer could be upgraded by putting in a "Windows XP memory system" to make it run faster.

I saw a computer for sale online. It had a Core 2 Quad processor advertised at 9.6GHz. Each processor core ran at 2.4GHz, so 2.4GHz times 4 cores equals 9.6GHz (as it was advertised). Right? Wrong!

I wonder how many people were ticked off when they opened System Properties on their newly-purchased "9.6GHz" computer and saw that the clock speed there was only 2.4GHz.

"I know that quad is 4 processors in 1 computer, so quad core is better. Like, the Mac Pro has 8 cores at 2.8GHz each, so 22.4GHz!"

"Parallel ATA is faster than serial ATA, because in parallel ATA, you can have more data written at the same time (in parallel)"

  • Person A: "What does it mean if it says that my laptop's hard drive is a Serial ATA 150 5400 RPM?"
  • Person B: "It's a SATA drive with 54MB of cache"

"I have a 500MHz quad-core Pentium 4."

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