i wanted to post a few questions on here about CPUs.
1. what is processor stepping?
It indicates different minor revisions of a CPU design.
2. what is the big difference between core 2 duo/quad and the new i7 line?
From the end user's perspective i7 provides better performance and/or lower power consumption.
3. are there better technologies in i7?
Yes. With each major revision new technologies and/or additional processor instructions are typically introduced. The new technologies improve raw performance, and the new instructions give developers more efficient ways of writing certain types of code.
4. what about 45nm and 65 nm and 22nm? what so great about getting a smaller .... is it die or chip? but what so great about making whatever it is smaller?
The nm (nanometer) spec refers to the process size of the smallest "features" (think "wires") on the chip. Chips based on smaller process size can usually run faster or use less power while providing similar performance to chips based on larger process size.
"Die" and "chip" are generally synonymous; they refer to the piece of silicon that is inside the CPU package. The overall size of the chips in modern CPUs actually hasn't changed much over the years; as the process size shrinks, designers add more components (additional cores, more cache, etc.) to the chip to improve performance.
5.what is the anatomy of a chip? what makes the thing better or faster? what are dies chips and cores?
What makes a chip better/faster is a very complicated question, too involved to answer in detail in a forum post. But it is a combination of clever design, good manufacturing, a solid platform to build the systems on (i.e. good motherboard chipsets), and convincing developers to use new instructions when there's a new major revision of the CPU.
For most modern CPUs the main limiting factor ends up being heat - the faster the chip runs, the more power it uses, and the more heat it produces. 125W to 150W seems to be about the limit of what a desktop system can deal with without resorting to extreme measures (e.g. really large/heavy heatsinks or liquid cooling).
"Die" and "chip" I explained above.
A "core" is a section of the CPU that can execute a single task. The number of cores determines the number of things you can have running simultaneously without bogging any of them down. So on a 2-core CPU, if you have 3 programs running at the same time things will start to slow down, but on a 3- or more core CPU they will all run at full speed. This is really a gross over-simplification as there are many other factors that come into play (contention for I/O resources or memory bandwidth, multi-threaded apps that use more than one core, etc.), but that should give you a general idea.
I know the basic answers to all these questions but I don't understand the benefits of them and I am very confused right now so please help?!
You could start browsing the CPU articles on Wikipedia for starters... and ask more questions in this thread when things don't make sense.
The years just pass like trains. I wave, but they don't slow down.
-- Steven Wilson