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L2 Cache question

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  • CPUs
  • Laptops
  • Cache
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July 3, 2006 4:19:17 PM

Hi! I am thinking of buying a new laptop. However, I am kind of on a budget. Anyways, I found a laptop that fits my budget and all the specs seem to be good however, it only has 128 kb of L2 cache.

It has:
AMD Sempron processor
512 MB DDR ram
60 GB hard disk
128 kb L2 cache

(of course there are many other features but I'm not mentioning them since they are not performance related...)

My question is: How important is the L2 cache? Or in other words: Will having only 128 kb of L2 cache cause any 'real' problems?

Please keep in mind that I currently have a 6 year old laptop that has 192 MB ram, 10 GB hard disk, and 16 kb of L2 cache!!! And it is working just fine for me (with windows XP Professional).

I will be using my new laptop to use Microsoft Office, to access the internet, to watch DVD's (and Xvid/ divx movies), etc... In other words I don't really plan to do any 'intensive' work on it... However, I do plan to hold on to it for several years so I don't want something that will be outdated by next year!!!

So, will I really feel 'handicaped' by having only 128 kb of L2 cache? Will my computer be noticibly slow? If yes, when will I feel this slowness? When running multiple applications? When switching between applications? When exactly?

Also please keep in mind that the laptop I am talking about has a "Windows Vista Capable" sticker on it.... And I plan to eventually install windows vista. If the 128 kb of L2 cache is fine for windows XP, then will it cause problems with windows Vista? Again, what type of problems?

I would appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks!!!!

More about : cache question

July 3, 2006 4:50:21 PM

Well the plain and simple answer to this is that yes, you will be lagging in some programs. L2 cache is basically where all the commands go to when they move from the RAM to the CPU. Generally speaking, the larger the L2 cache the better your performance will be if you have programs that require a lot of space whether it be on your RAM or if they're CPU intensive.
July 3, 2006 6:37:46 PM

How much is that rig going to cost?
Related resources
July 3, 2006 8:45:13 PM

It Will Be Fine, Hell Even My Aold IBM Thinkpad 600X Was Fast Enuff For Basic Shit, So Your Good, Buy It.
July 3, 2006 10:02:10 PM

Quote:
Hi! I am thinking of buying a new laptop. However, I am kind of on a budget. Anyways, I found a laptop that fits my budget and all the specs seem to be good however, it only has 128 kb of L2 cache.

It has:
AMD Sempron processor
512 MB DDR ram
60 GB hard disk
128 kb L2 cache

(of course there are many other features but I'm not mentioning them since they are not performance related...)

My question is: How important is the L2 cache? Or in other words: Will having only 128 kb of L2 cache cause any 'real' problems?

Please keep in mind that I currently have a 6 year old laptop that has 192 MB ram, 10 GB hard disk, and 16 kb of L2 cache!!! And it is working just fine for me (with windows XP Professional).

I will be using my new laptop to use Microsoft Office, to access the internet, to watch DVD's (and Xvid/ divx movies), etc... In other words I don't really plan to do any 'intensive' work on it... However, I do plan to hold on to it for several years so I don't want something that will be outdated by next year!!!

So, will I really feel 'handicaped' by having only 128 kb of L2 cache? Will my computer be noticibly slow? If yes, when will I feel this slowness? When running multiple applications? When switching between applications? When exactly?

Also please keep in mind that the laptop I am talking about has a "Windows Vista Capable" sticker on it.... And I plan to eventually install windows vista. If the 128 kb of L2 cache is fine for windows XP, then will it cause problems with windows Vista? Again, what type of problems?

I would appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks!!!!


Go for it! In my opinion, with the tasks you mention, cache is not worth much. Of course it will make your office applications and media players a fraction of a second slower but cache matters only for sowtware which WORK with large amounts of data: photo/video editing, gaming etc. For media streaming in general (from playing videos/MP3s to rendering a 3D scene, cache is almost useless, because data just streams, as the word implies, through the processor.
For istance, if you see the CPU charts, an athlon64 3000+ (512K cache) and a Sempron 3000+ (128K cache) run @ the same 1.8GHz and render a 3D Max scene in exactly 3:11 min, despite the sempron has 1/4 the L2 of the athlon.
July 3, 2006 10:04:21 PM

Not sure what your budget is, but found this on NewEgg for $680.00

Acer Aspire AS1642ZWLMi NoteBook Intel Pentium M 735(1.7GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 512MB DDR2

I think that would be a nice deal for just a general laptop use with some zip, and it has 2MB L2 cache :lol: 

Specs:

Quote:
Specifications
Model
Brand Acer
Series Aspire
Model AS1642ZWLMi
Part# LX.AAG05.121
General
Operating System Windows XP Home
CPU Type Intel Pentium M 735(1.7GHz)
Screen 15.4" WXGA
Memory Size 512MB DDR2
Hard Disk 80GB
Optical Drive DVD±R/RW
Graphics Card Intel GMA900
Video Memory shared memory
Communication Modem, LAN and WLAN
Card slot one Type II card
Battery Life 2.0 hours
Dimensions 14.3" x 11" x 1.5"
Weight 6.4 lbs.
CPU
CPU Type Intel Pentium M
CPU Speed 735(1.7GHz)
CPU FSB 400MHz
CPU L2 Cache 2MB
Chipset
Chipset Intel 915GM
Display
Screen Size 15.4"
Wide Screen Support Yes
LCD Features Acer CrystalBrite Technology, up to 16.7 million colors
Display Type Wide XGA
Resolution 1280 × 800
Operating Systems
Operating System Windows XP Home
Graphics
GPU/VPU Intel GMA900
Video Memory Shared system memory
Graphic Type Integrated Card
Hard Drive
HD Capacity 80GB
Memory
Memory Slots 2x DIMM
Memory Speed DDR2 533
Memory Size 512MB
Max Memory Supported 2GB
Memory Spec 512MB x 1
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Type DVD±R/RW
Optical Drive Interface Integrated
Optical Drive Spec variable-speed DVD-Dual drive (DVD+/-RW) drive
Read - 24X CD-ROM, 24X CD-R, 24X CD-RW, 8X DVD-ROM, 8X DVD+R, 8X DVD-R, 6X DVD+RW, 6X DVD-RW, 4X DVD+R (double-layer)
Write - 24X CD-R, 16X CD-RW, 8X DVD+R, 8X DVD-R, 4X DVD+RW, 4X DVD-RW, 2.4X DVD+R (double-layer)
Communications
Modem V.92 56K
LAN 10/100Mbps
WLAN 802.11b/g Wireless LAN
Ports
Card Slot 1x Type I/II PC Card Slot
USB 3
Video Port 1 x VGA
Audio Ports Headphones/speakers/line-out, microphone and line-in ports
Audio
Audio Microsoft DirectSound and Sound Blaster Pro compatibility
Speaker Two integrated speakers
Input Device
Touchpad Touchpad with four-way integrated scroll button
Keyboard 88-key keyboard, embedded numeric keypad, hotkey controls, international language support, 2.5mm minimum key travel

12 function, four cursor, two Microsoft Windows keys

Web browser, e-mail, one user-programmable, Empowering Key easy-launch buttons; front-access wireless LED button
Power
AC Adapter 65-watt AC adapter
Battery 4-cell lithium ion
Battery Life 2.0 hours
Physical spec
Dimensions 14.3" x 11" x 1.5"
Weight 6.4 lbs.
Features
Software Included Acer Arcade
Acer Empowering Technology
Acer GridVista
Acer Launch Manager
Adobe Acrobat Reader
CyberLink PowerProducer*
Norton AntiVirus
NTI CD-Maker*

*OEM, not full-featured, version.
Warranty
Manufacturer Warranty One-year parts and labor limited warranty
July 4, 2006 12:57:22 AM

Based on what you mentioned you won't notice one bit of lag whatsoever. More important would be to have lot's of RAM and a fast harddrive on the laptop. These two are much more of a bottleneck than any modern CPU, even after Vista.

I'd get the least amount of sodim ram and smallest hard drive, then buy a 7200rpm laptop harddrive and a gig of high quality laptop ram seperately.
July 4, 2006 7:05:39 AM

I agree: a K7/K8 core with low cache but fast RAM access will rock as much as a K7/K8 core with high cache but slow RAM access. It was so with my old Duron 950 (which would be at the level of an Athlon 1000 due to lowered multiplier, higher FSB and tight timings), and it is also the case with my X2 3800+, with dual-channeled somewhat fast (2-3-3-5) RAM - reaching levels considered X2 4000+ under Sisoft Sandra.

A 128kb Sempron64 has enough oomph to run whatever video you want real time (even on a 3D desktop such as Linux Xgl - I know, I tried), and can run whatever office suite you want - even OpenOffice loads in an instant with that.

Go for it - but it is indeed a good idea to get a very fast laptop hard drive and a good amount of quality RAM (it can double the responsiveness of the computer, if not more)

I once exchanged a 20Gb 4200 rpm laptop drive with 512 Kb of cache with a 60Gb 5200 rpm with 2 Mb cache, and I doubled its RAM (from 128 to 256): the laptop actually felt brand new. Not bad for a 4 yo POS.
July 4, 2006 2:42:44 PM

Thank you very much to all of you who have replied to my post.
If anyone else has any info to add about the issue I would be very interested in hearing it.

I just have a few more questions:

Does the 'need' for L2 cache increase with increased memory size/speed and CPU speed? For example, my old computer was a pentium III, with 192 MB ram and 650 Mhz CPU. It had only 16 Kb of L2 cache... And it runs just fine. My question is: Would a computer with more RAM and a faster CPU (as in this case an AMD sempron 3000+) need more cache to be able to handle all the processing/memory accessing... Excuse me if my question seems stupid, but I don't know that much about computers...
The reason, I'm asking is that it seem to me that a faster processor and more RAM would mean that the computer needs more L2 cache to be able to cope with all the increased processing speed/memory accessing....

Anyways, I'd really appreciate any info about the topic....

In my first post I included the specs of the computer I'm considering getting but here are the full specs:

Microprocessor Mobile AMD Sempron™ Processor 3000+ with PowerNow!™ Technology
Microprocessor Cache Level 2 cache 128 KB
Memory 512 MB DDR 333 MHz (1 x 512 MB)
Memory Max up to 2 GB
Video Graphics ATI RADEON® XPRESS 200M IGP graphics
Video Memory 128 MB (shared)
Hard Drive 60 GB 4200 rpm
Multimedia Drive DVD Writer Dual Format (+/-R +/-RW) with Double Layer support
Display 15.4” WXGA High Definition BrightView Widescreen
Fax/Modem High speed 56K modem
Network Card 10/100 LAN Ethernet integrated
Wireless Connectivity 54g™ 802.11b/g WLAN
Sound Altec Lansing® speakers
Keyboard 101 key compatible keyboard
Pointing Device Touch Pad with dedicated vertical Scroll Up/Down pad
PC Card Slots One ExpressCard/54 slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)

External Ports 1 VGA port
2 USB 2.0 ports
1 RJ 11 modem connector
1 RJ 45 Ethernet connector
S-video TV out
Remote control infrared port (Remote Control optional)
1 Headphone-out, 1 Microphone-in port
Cable docking connector

Dimensions 26.39 cm (L) x 35.78 cm (W) x 3.50 cm - 4.40 cm (H)
Weight 2.98 kg (6.6 lbs)
Power 65 W AC Power Adapter
6-cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery






I just have one last question: Are there any major bugs/ problems with the AMD sempron 3000+ processor that I should be aware of?

Again, thanks for any info!
July 4, 2006 2:45:00 PM

Quote:
Hi! I am thinking of buying a new laptop. However, I am kind of on a budget. Anyways, I found a laptop that fits my budget and all the specs seem to be good however, it only has 128 kb of L2 cache.

It has:
AMD Sempron processor
512 MB DDR ram
60 GB hard disk
128 kb L2 cache

(of course there are many other features but I'm not mentioning them since they are not performance related...)

My question is: How important is the L2 cache? Or in other words: Will having only 128 kb of L2 cache cause any 'real' problems?

Please keep in mind that I currently have a 6 year old laptop that has 192 MB ram, 10 GB hard disk, and 16 kb of L2 cache!!! And it is working just fine for me (with windows XP Professional).

I will be using my new laptop to use Microsoft Office, to access the internet, to watch DVD's (and Xvid/ divx movies), etc... In other words I don't really plan to do any 'intensive' work on it... However, I do plan to hold on to it for several years so I don't want something that will be outdated by next year!!!

So, will I really feel 'handicaped' by having only 128 kb of L2 cache? Will my computer be noticibly slow? If yes, when will I feel this slowness? When running multiple applications? When switching between applications? When exactly?

Also please keep in mind that the laptop I am talking about has a "Windows Vista Capable" sticker on it.... And I plan to eventually install windows vista. If the 128 kb of L2 cache is fine for windows XP, then will it cause problems with windows Vista? Again, what type of problems?

I would appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks!!!!



What excatly is your budget. TigerDirect has extra cheap laptops usually with rebates.

Newegg has some good deals too.
July 4, 2006 3:41:49 PM

The thing is, I don't live in the United States and I really need to get a laptop soon, so I am limited to what is available in the local electronic stores... The model I am talking about is for 930$ (including tax) which is a very good price in my country. I know I could get a much cheaper price in the United States but as I said that isn't an option for me...
July 4, 2006 3:50:49 PM

Sorry, but the P-III had 256 Kb of L2 cache; I think you're mistaking it with the size of the L1 data cache (even then, I think it was bigger than that on the P-III)

L2 cache size is important for apps that can fit their core in the L2 cache; for example, applications for which the stack is 128 Kb will perform the same on a Sempron than they'd do on a Athlon64. If said app's stack is 500 Kb, it will perform better on an Athlon64. If it's much bigger than that, then the L2 cache size will be almost irrelevant.

More L2 cache means less memory addressing - but only for well optimized apps. If your RAM is fast, then the difference between accessing L2 cache and accessing RAM will be quite small.

To give you an example, using memtest86 on an Athlon X2 3800+ @ 2 GHz, with an Hypertransport bus @1GHz, and dual channel RAM yelds a difference of 25% between L2 and RAM - meaning that the maximum performance hit I'd get using a lower L2 cache would be 25%, using an app smaller than 512 Kb... If the app is 50 Mb, the difference would be... hardly noticeable (25% of 1%, meaning the app would be 0.25% slower on the disabled L2 cache machine).

Consider this, too: mobile AMD chips can be replaced (they're like their desktop counterparts). If you don't like your CPU, you'll be able to swap it for a better one!
July 4, 2006 4:49:42 PM

L2 cache size is VERY important for Intel, but doesn't matter a lot for AMD CPUs: from 128KB to 256 or 512 will speed-up things by 2-4% in single channel.
More important is havong low latency RAM and, most of all, a lot of RAM in order to run XP (enad much less for *nix)
July 6, 2006 10:57:10 AM

Thanks to all of you who replied to my questions.


Your info was very helpfull to me!

I bought the computer and it is great (knock on wood) :) 
!