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FSB speed

Front Side Bus Speed

Complex subject, but this has to do with being able to use different speed processors in the same motherboard. The FSB speed and a CPU multiplier are usually what you adjust to accomplish this, except more recent MB designs lock the multiplier and others don't let you change either setting. The settings still exist whether or not you have access to them, and may adjust themselves automatically for the CPU in use - which is definitely NOT meant to imply that any old cpu that fits in the slot will work.

For some systems, the FSB is related to the PCI bus speed, so changing it can adversely affect PCI cards.

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© Tony Lawrence

Slightly compounding the confusion is the notion of double data rate (DDR) FSB transfers, a concept that first appeared on AMD Athlon motherboards in 1999. Prior to the development of DDR, data bit transfers on the FSB occurred on the rising clock pulse only, hence the transfer rate was the same as the bus clock frequency. With DDR, data bits are passed on both the rising and falling clock pulses, producing a transfer rate that is exactly twice that of the bus clock frequency. Thanks to DDR, the effective Athlon FSB frequency of the first boards was 200 MHz, which (along with the advanced design of the processor itself) produced a level of performance previously unknown in PC hardware.

The DDR concept was subsequently applied to memory, and even Intel, who for a while was heavily promoting Rambus memory, finally adopted DDR for their motherboards. Virtually all PC motherboards shipped today are designed around the DDR concept.


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