How many times have you gone to the System Properties dialog box in the Windows operating system in an attempt to find out the exact speed of the CPU in a particular computer and encountered a generic description like the one shown in Figure A? As you can see, this information is so cryptic that it’s useless for most IT support professionals’ needs.
|This type of generic information isn’t very useful in identifying a system’s CPU.|
Fortunately, there’s a little tool from Intel called the Processor Frequency ID Utility that can help. In addition to the exact CPU speed, this utility will provide information on the bus speed, the size of the processor’s built-in cache, and much more. Keep in mind that the utility is designed for identifying certain Pentium and Celeron processors—not all Pentium processors are fully supported. (Another utility is available for identifying AMD processors.) In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you how to download and use the Processor Frequency ID utility. As I do, I’ll examine both the Windows version of the utility, as well as the bootable version.
As I mentioned in the introduction, not all Pentium processors are fully supported by the Processor Frequency ID Utility. The utility is designed to provide information in two categories: CPU Frequency/Speed and CPU Identification Data. This utility will provide information from both categories on some Pentium and Celeron processors, while on older processors it will only provide information in the CPU Identification Data category. Table A lists all Intel processors and identifies which categories are supported.
Downloading the utility
Downloading the Processor Frequency ID Utility from the Intel site is easy. As I mentioned, there are two versions of the utility: The Windows version, which you can run from within the operating system, and the Bootable version, which you can run from a floppy disk. When you arrive at either of these pages, you’ll simply need to click on the appropriate language version. You’ll then be directed through several intermediary pages before you can start the download.
To make installing and using the Bootable version of the Processor Frequency ID utility easier, I suggest that, when you’re prompted to select a location to save the file, you create a folder in the root directory called CPUID and download the file to this new folder.
At the time of this writing, the most current version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility is 4.61. The latest revision date is May 2002. The installation file for the Windows version is Fidenu21.exe and the installation file for the Bootable version is Bfid_e16.exe. After you download the utility, proceed to the appropriate installation section of this article.
Installing the Windows version
You can install the Windows version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility in every version of the Windows operating system except Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.x. For computers running these versions of Windows, you need to use the Bootable version of the Processor Frequency ID utility.
To begin the installation, close all open applications, open Windows Explorer, locate the Fidenu21.exe, and double-click on it. In a moment, you’ll see the Welcome screen for the installation wizard, as shown in Figure B.
|Once you peruse the information in the Welcome screen, you can click Next to begin the installation.|
The rest of the wizard asks you to accept the software license agreement and to choose the installation destination folder. Once the utility is installed, the last screen of the wizard, shown in Figure C, allows you to choose whether you want to run the utility right away. There’s no need to reboot the system.
|You can launch the Windows version of theProcessor Frequency ID Utility without rebooting the system.|
Installing the Bootable version
Installing the Bootable version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility is also a relatively straightforward procedure. All you need is a regular, formatted floppy disk.
Do not create a bootable system disk. If you do, the Processor Frequency ID Utility installation procedure will fail and a message stating that the disk is not empty will appear.
To begin, insert the floppy disk into the drive. Then, open a Command/MS-DOS Prompt window, change to the directory containing the Bfid_e16.exe file, and launch the executable file by typing its name at the prompt. When you do, the installation files will be extracted, as shown in Figure D.
|Once you run the DOS-based executable, the files will be extracted.|
To install the Bootable version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility on your floppy disk, simply type Setup at the prompt. When you do, you’ll be prompted to press a key to start the installation procedure. In a few minutes, you’ll be informed that the bootable disk is ready, as shown in Figure E.
|Once the installation is complete, you’ll see a message telling you that the disk was created successfully.|
Running the Windows version
Once you’ve installed the Windows version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility on your computer, running it is just a matter of selecting the Intel Processor Frequency ID Utility shortcut from the Start menu. When you do, you’ll see the License Agreement dialog box and will have to click the Accept button to continue.
A few moments after you click the Accept button, you’ll see a two-tabbed dialog box that provides you with detailed information about the processor installed in the computer. Figure F shows the contents of the Frequency Test tab run on my test system.
|The Frequency tab reports the processor speed, as well as the system bus speed.|
As you can see, both the processor and system bus speeds are reported here. In addition, the processor is identified by its official Intel logo. When you select the CPUID Data tab, as shown in Figure G, you’ll see the technical specifications of the processor. Each specification is explained in great detail in the Definitions section of the utility's Help system.
|The CPUID Data tab displays the technical specifications of the processor.|
However, it is interesting to note that the Family classification indicates the processor’s generation and brand. For example, a Family classification of 6 indicates that my example system is a sixth generation Intel processor, which includes the Celeron, Pentium II, Pentium II Xeon, Pentium III, and Pentium III Xeon processors. If you want to save this information to a text file, pull down the File menu and select the Save As command. When you see the Save As dialog box, simply give the file an appropriate name and click Save.
Running the Bootable version
Once you’ve created a Processor Frequency ID bootable floppy disk, you can use this disk on any computer. To do so, power down the computer, insert the disk, and then turn on the computer. When you do, you’ll see the license agreement screen and will have to acknowledge it by pressing the number 1 key. You’ll then see a screen similar to the one shown in Figure H.
|The Bootable version of the Processor Frequency ID Utility will display a report like this one.|
Identifying legacy processors
Finally, if you encounter a computer that is definitely not a Pentium class system, but lacks any real processor identification, there’s still help for you. You can download the Intel CPUID Utility for DOS, which is designed to identify 386 and up processors. Unfortunately, it won’t report the processor’s speed.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.