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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System Cache ]

Function and Operation of the System Cache

This section discusses the principles behind the design of cache memory, and explains how the secondary (level 2) cache works in detail. This will give you a much better understanding of how the cache works and what the issues are in its design--at least I hope it will, because that was my primary goal in writing this. I was frustrated as I put the site together with my inability to find anything on the 'net that really explained how the cache worked.

This section is focused on the secondary cache, but in fact, the function of the primary (level 1) cache built into modern processors is in many ways identical: in terms of how associativity works, how the cache is organized, how the system checks for hits, etc. However, many of the implementation details are different.

Note: This is an advanced section with some potentially confusing concepts. I make use of examples in order to hopefully make sure the explanations make sense. You will find this section most helpful if you read all the subsections it contains in order. You may also find reading the section explaining system memory operation and timing instructive. This page also makes extensive reference to memory addresses and locations, and binary numbers. If you are not familiar with binary mathematics, you may want to read this introductory page on the subject.

Next: Why Caching Works


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