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Digital Audio Essentials by Bruce Fries, Marty Fries

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Factors That Affect Performance

In this section, we’ll describe the computer components that have the most effect on the performance of applications that work with digital audio. These details will help you understand how to squeeze the best performance out of your existing computer without spending a fortune.

Processor power

A computer’s central processing unit, or CPU, is its brain. All of the information handled by your computer is managed and directed by the CPU. The CPU loads programs and data from the hard drive and moves data between memory, graphics cards, sound cards, mice, and keyboards. The clock speed and processor architecture of the CPU determine how fast it can process information.

The processor architecture (or class) relates to the performance of a CPU, similar to the way the number of cylinders and type of fuel system (carburetor or fuel injection) relate to the performance of a car engine. The processor’s clock speed is like the revolutions per minute (rpm) of a car engine. Increasing the clock speed of a processor within the same class will result in better performance, just as increasing the rpm of an engine will result in more horsepower. However, clock speed is meaningless in comparing the performance of processors from different classes; it would be like saying that a single-cylinder lawnmower engine operating at 3000 rpm should outperform a fuel-injected V8 engine running at 2000 rpm.

In addition to the CPU, many other components, such as the hard disk capacity ...

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