The Confused World of CPUs

As my colleagues and I were busy preparing an analysis and recommendation of virtual machine instances sizes for a migration project, including right-sizing the instances, the whole confused world of CPU processors just struck me.

Or rather, the CPU processors world struck the confused me.

I guess I’m still confused. =D

Today, I tried to unravel the puzzle and hopefully it can bring some light to you too in better understanding your hardware, putting you in a better position to get that bargain personal laptop the next time round!

Desk setup goals

Sockets/number of physical CPU

Generally in modern personal computers/laptops, there is usually 1 CPU/1 socket to insert in the CPU chip. Thus, there is just 1 physical CPU, as opposed to 10 years ago, motherboards have multiple sockets to contain more chips. Even the motherboard is a sucker for chips heh.


Cores are sub-units of the CPU. Each core can perform the __GHz of compute as marketed on the chip-maker’s website.

The i5–3550 processor has a base frequency of 3.3GHz per core.

Logical processors/threads

Number of cores the OS think there is. In my personal laptop, thanks to Intel’s hyper-threading, each core is split into 2 threads/logical processors, to form a total of 8 logical processors. This basically means my PC is capable of running 8 processing tasks concurrently.

Feel free to check out your own PC’s specs:)

In virtualised environment, there is virtual core or vcore as well, but that shall be a topic for a another day. Happy computing!

Typically seen messing around with AWS