Ford was famous for selling the Model T in any color you

wanted, so long as it was black. The original IBM PC came with any CPU you

wanted, so long as it was an Intel 8088. Today, just as you can get a car in

just about any color you want, it seems like there’s an almost endless array of

CPU options. Intel and AMD are competing so hard and introducing new product so

fast, that it’s next to impossible to keep up.

Consider some of your options

from Intel alone. Just on the desktop, from the Intel Celeron D to the Core

2 Extreme you can choose from 7 different CPU types. Within the Pentium D

processor family, there are 12 different speeds. That’s not counting the

additional 6 additional mobile processor, 6 server processor families and the

number of flavors of each.

With AMD,

it’s not any less confusing. AMD has 4 different desktop processor families and

5 for mobile computers. At least there’s only one choice when it comes to

servers, but when you look at one model line like the Athlon 64 X2 dual-core

CPU, there are 13 individual flavors of the CPU.

PC makers such as Dell and HP help somewhat by making most of

the choices for you. They don’t offer every single CPU choice in their models.

Even when you have the option of customizing the CPU in a unit, you only have

limited selection of CPUs. This helps minimize the confusion somewhat, but you

still need to know the difference in CPU types when comparing models from

different makers. Like hard drive sizes, amount of RAM and video card

selections, CPUs are now included in the 

pricing shell game. By shuffling components around a little, one

manufacturer can ‘match’ the price of another’s machine, but the performance

may differ wildly.

This is where it comes in handy to standardize your purchases

for your organization. Pick an individual model that meets your needs and then

forget about it. Buy as many of those units as possible, and then start the

process over again next year.

Personally, I find the constant change in CPUs to be a mixed

blessing. It’s next to impossible to remember all of the different CPU types

like you could way back in the 20th Century. But at the same time,

processors are increasing speed at an exponential rate. Who would want to remember some of them?