Describe three major factors that affect the performance of a computer operation. For each factor, state one example of measurement.

CPA-Quantitative-Analysis-Section-4 BLOCK RELEASE

Factors that affect the performance of a computer operation:
1. The cycle speed
This indicates the number of instructions that the processor can handle in a second. For example, a Pentium 4 chip with a clock speed of 2 GHz can handle upto 2 trillion instructions per second. The cycle of a computer is indicated in the system‘s properties as displayed in the operating system environment (interface).
2. The processor‟s word length
Word length refers to the number of bits that the computer can process at one time. A 32-bit chip can process 32 bits or 4 bytes of data in a single machine cycle. The larger the word length, the greater the speed of the execution of a cycle. Word length size is implied in the name of the processor e.g. Pentium implies 32-bit processing; Itanium implies 64-bit processing.
3. Data bus width
The data bus acts as a highway between the CPU, primary storage and other devices, determining how much data can be moved at one time. The larger the data bus width, the greater the system performance. Data bus width is measured in bits and it depends on the type of processing chip e.g. the 8088 chip used in the original IBM personal computer, for example, has a 16-bit word length but only an 8-bit data bus width.
4. RAM (Random Access Memory) size
Since all operands (objects being manipulated in an operation e.g. numbers) are loaded into main memory prior to an operation being carried out, the larger the size of the RAM, the more operands that can be accommodated and hence the greater the performance of large operations. Where the operands exceed the RAM size, the operands have to be swapped (moved) into and out of memory as the operation is carried out. This results in time overheads which means lower performance. Hence, a large main memory provides a greater capability for high performance than a small main memory for complex/large operations. RAM size is measured in bytes and it‘s indicated in the computer system unit. RAM size can also be calculated counting the number of RAM chips in the motherboard of the computer

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