CPU clock speed

Semiconductor feature sizes shrink over time: two generations shrink the width of a feature by a factor of two (e.g. we have the following sequence of generations: 180nm, 130nm, 90nm, 65nm); in the past there has been one generation every two years (e.g., Intel typically introduced new process generatione in Q4 of odd years, e.g., 350nm in Q4 1995). These advances and others (better circuit design techniques, more metal layers, and stuff like copper wires, silicon-on-insulator, and strained silicon) have led to speedups in CPU clock speeds. This page documents the clock speeds of CPUs with different microarchitectures in various processes.

I look at the final chip in a process, because that is more likely to have utilized the process to the fullest extent, whereas the introductory clock speeds for a new process are more determined by the market situation. (To a lesser degree, in the 130nm process, that is also the case for the fastest chips: since the speedups from 90nm were apparently late in coming, we saw new 130nm speed grades long after 90nm had been introduced (Pentium 4 EE 3.46GHz, Athlon 64 FX-55)).

The factor below is the speedup factor relative to the fastest chip of the previous generation. The modified microarchitecture below typically means that pipeline got longer, which should allow higher clock rates, but this effect does not appear to be very pronounced; there are often also other changes, which may increase or decrease the average number of instructions executed per cycle (IPC).

P5 microarchitecture

These are the original Pentium (P5, P54) and Pentium MMX (P55) CPUs.
feature  final         final
size     speed  factor chip  comments
0.8u      66MHz        P5
0.5u     120MHz  1.82  P54C
0.35u    200MHz  1.67  P54C
---------------------------- modified microarchitecture
0.35u    233MHz  1.94  P55C 0.28u according to Wikipedia
0.25u    300MHz  1.29  Tillamook (mobile)

P6 microarchitecture

These are the Pentium Pro, Pentium II (Klamath), Pentium III (Katmai, Coppermine, Tualatin), and Pentium M (Banias, Dothan) CPUs.
feature  final         final
size     speed  factor chip               comments
0.5u     150MHz        original P6 target
0.35u    300MHz  2     Klamath
0.25u    600MHz  2     Katmai
0.18u   1100MHz  1.83  Coppermine
0.13u   1400MHz  1.27  Tualatin           probably not tuned much
--------------------------------          modified microarchitecture
0.13u   1700MHz  1.55  Banias (mobile)            
0.09u   2266MHz  1.33  Dothan (mobile)
0.065u  2333MHz  1.03  Yonah  (mobile)
--------------------------------          modified microarchitecture (Core)
0.065u  2600MHz  1.15  Merom (mobile) (Merom XE 2800MHz@44W)
0.065u  3000MHz  1.32  Woodcrest (80W), Conroe (65W)
0.045u  3333MHz  1.11  Wolfdale
-------------------------------- slightly modified microarchitecture (Nehalem)
0.045u  3200MHz  1.07  Bloomfield

K6 microarchitecture

feature  final         final
size     speed  factor chip
0.35u    266MHz        K6
0.25u    550MHz  2.07  K6-2

K7/K8 microarchitecture

These are the Athlon (XP, 64, etc.) CPUs.
feature  final         final         comments
size     speed  factor chip
250nm    700MHz        K7
180nm   1400MHz  2     Thunderbird   reference for 180nm
180nm?  1700MHz        Palomino      partially 130nm?
130nm   2250MHz  1.61  Thoroughbred
----------------------------------   modified microarchitecture (K8)
130nm   2600MHz  1.86  Clawhammer
 90nm   3200MHz  1.23  Windsor, Santa Rosa  65nm   3100MHz  0.97  Brisbane
----------------------------------   modified microarchitecture (K10)
 65nm   2700MHz  0.84  Agena

Netburst microarchitecture

These are the Pentium 4 CPUs and their Xeon and EE variants.
feature  final         final
size     speed  factor chip
180nm   2000MHz        Williamette
130nm   3466MHz  1.73  Gallatin (Northwood 3400MHz)
----------------------------------- modified microarchitecture
 90nm   3800MHz  1.10  Prescott
 65nm   3800MHz  1.00


Between 500nm and 180nm, we saw roughly a clock speedup by a factor of 2 in each generation. The speedup for the 130nm generation was somewhat less, and the speedup for the 90nm generation and beyond was small.


[List of Intel CPUs] [List of AMD CPUs]
Anton Ertl