The CPU cache is a crucial component of a processor, and it aids in its performance. The CPU cache is smaller than RAM but significantly faster.
CPU cache is typically built directly onto the CPU chip itself, and since the CPU cache is located close to the cores, it gives it a significant speed advantage.
CPU cache is important, the more CPU cache the better because more CPU cache aids in cache misses which can severely reduce performance.
How L1, L2, & L3 Cache Work
CPUs will USUALLY consist of three levels of CPU cache, and that’s the L1, L2, and the L3 cache, but you may find a CPU with a L4 cache.
CPU caches work in a hierarchy, and the lowest level of the hierarchy is the L1 cache, and the highest being the L3 cache.
Lower levels of cache have fewer blocks, smaller capacity, and fewer blocks in a set, but they’re usually extremely fast.
Higher levels of cache will come with more numbers of blocks that are larger in capacity, and more blocks in a set, but they’re slower.
Level 1 Cache/Primary Cache
The L1 cache is the fastest cache, this is because it’s in close proximity to the CPU cores. This usually means the L1 cache runs at a similar clock speed to the CPU core itself.
The L1 cache is where you will find information that is frequently used, and the L1 cache is split between all the CPU cores, each portion of the L1 cache adds up to a few kilobytes.
Level 2 Cache/External Cache
The L2 cache is larger than the L1 cache, but it comes at a slower speed, and the L2 cache is not shared by all the CPU cores.
Also, the L2 cache is located on the same chip, but it’s external from the CPU cores, this is why the L2 cache isn’t as fast as the L1 cache.
The whole purpose of the L2 cache is to act as a cache for the L1 cache, this means the CPU will often check the L2 cache for information it couldn’t find in the L1 cache.
Level 3 Cache/Specialized Memory
With multicore processors, they will usually share the L3 cache, and it’s the largest of all the caches, but it’s the slowest.
The purpose for the L3 cache is to capture recent data accesses, and the L3 makes up for its slowness compared to the L2 cache in the form of capacity.
The L3 cache is extremely important for the CPU, it’s job is to be the last resort before checking the main system memory (RAM), so it needs to be considerably large to reduce cache misses.
What Are Cache Misses
A cache miss is when the CPU fails to read or write a piece of data, this has significant performance implications especially in CPU intensive applications.
The larger the CPU cache is, the less chance of CPU cache misses, this makes the CPU work more effectively and efficiently.
If the CPU cache is above 1M(1megabyte), the chance of a CPU cache miss is extremely low, and as the cache size increases, so does diminishing returns.
When a cache miss occurs, the CPU has no choice but to find the data elsewhere, this can mean the CPU has to go to the RAM which is significantly slower than the CPU cache.
So, when the CPU relies less on the RAM for data, and relies more on the cache, the performance gains are huge, this is evident with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
Is More CPU Cache Better For Gaming?
As previously stated, more CPU cache aids in reducing the chances of cache misses, this usually means higher frame rates in certain games.
Yep, it’s mostly game dependant, but more CPU cache pretty much means the CPU is less of a bottleneck as it can process instructions much faster.
When you’re gaming, it’s common for the L3 cache to get filled up which means the CPU has to go to the RAM for instructions.
3D V-Cache For Gaming
With more L3 cache which the Ryzen 7 5800X3D pretty much gives, you can see that it massively improves gaming performance.
Consequently, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is able to punch well above its weight as it can compete with CPUs such as the I9 12900K.
The technology for increasing the L3 cache in Ryzen is called 3D V-Cache, and it vertically stacks a 64MB cache die onto the processor.
Also Read: How Does CPU Cache Affect Gaming
So Is More CPU Cache Better?
It definitely seems like more CPU cache is better for performance, it reduces the chances of the CPU going to the RAM for information.
Think about it like this, without the CPU cache, the CPU will only be able to run as fast as the main system memory which imposes a huge bottleneck.
So, more cache reduces bottlenecks, and reduces time wasted on processing commonly accessed information therefore, more CPU cache is beneficial for CPU intensive applications.
How To Check How Much CPU Cache I Have?
The first way to find out how much CPU cache you have would be to check the CPU’s manufacturer whether it’s AMD or Intel.
If you have an Intel processor, then head over to ark.intel.com and find your CPU model, it should list the full specifications.
This is usually helpful for finding out the specifications before buying the CPU, but if you already bought the CPU, you can check the CPU cache capacity in task manager.
Firstly, right click the start button, and you should see a menu pop up, simply click “Task Manager” which should open in the form of a window.
Head over to the performance tab inside task manager, and there you should see the L1, L2, L3 cache’s capacity near the bottom right.
In conclusion, the CPU cache is important for the CPU as it allows the CPU to function without bottlenecks.
But sometimes the CPU cache isn’t sufficient which can cause bottlenecks due to the CPU using the RAM to retrieve information.
In this case, more CPU cache would be extremely beneficial, we can see with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D that this is evident.