A direct relationship exists between processor size and processor speed: The smaller the circuitry, the faster the processor. In addition to helping increase clock speed, smaller processors use less power and produce less heat than larger processors. Advances in microprocessor technology are one of the primary reasons that processors have achieved dramatic increases in speed. The current Pentium III and AMD Athlon processors use 0.18 micron technology (a micron is one millionth of a meter). AMD's next generation of chips will use 0.13 micron technology, which manufacturers expect will push processor speeds to the 2GHz level.

The metals that compose the processor's circuitry are another important factor in processor speed. Most current processors use aluminum to bridge the gap between transistors. However, the next generation of processors will use copper interconnects. Copper's superior conductivity yields a performance increase of about 10 percent over aluminum technology.