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External Processor Interfaces and Operation
The way that the processor "talks" to other parts of the system is in many ways as important a factor in indicating system power as how it works internally. The processor controls the entire PC, and uses dedicated control pathways called "buses" to send information between itself and the system cache, memory and other devices. This are the processor's external interfaces, which can be different even for otherwise similar CPUs.
There are several different types of buses on a modern PC. The section on System Bus Function and Features provides the basic details on the various bus types, the hierarchy of buses, and general explanations of bus size and bandwidth. You can also find there descriptions of the I/O system buses such as PCI and ISA. At the processor level, the important buses are the processor bus and memory bus, which we discuss in more detail here.