What is a GHz?

Gigahertz, generally abbreviated GHz, refers to frequencies in the billions of cycles per second range. Giga is the standard multiplier for 1 billion, and Hertz is the standard unit for measuring frequencies, expressed as cycles or occurrences per second.

GHz is commonly used when discussing computer performance or radio frequencies. In computers, GHz most often refers to the clock speed of the central processing unit, or CPU; the faster the CPU clock can tick, the faster, in general, the computer can process data and instructions. In 2000, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices achieved a marketing and technical milestone by releasing the first CPUs to run at 1 GHz. Speeds have subsequently reached 4 GHz.

In radio communications, GHz is used to define bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Different bands will be assigned different uses. S-Band, for example, is a band of spectrum between 2 and 4 GHz. Common technologies such as Bluetooth, wireless internet (WiFi) and cordless telephones operate in the S-Band. L-Band, between 1 and 2 GHz, is used for satellite communications and Global Positioning Systems, or GPS. Other notable bands in the GHz range include Ku and Ka, used by satellites as well as by police radar guns.

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