Difference between L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache memory types

This page compares levels of cache memory L1 Cache vs L2 Cache vs L3 Cache and mentions difference between L1 Cache, L2 Cache and L3 Cache memory types.

What is Cache | Types of cache

A computer memory with very short access time. It is used for storage of frequently used instructions or data.
There are different types of cache as mentioned below.
• L1/L2/L3 cache
• RAM cache : It is same as cache memory or CPU cache. L1/L2 cache catching data from RAM. RAM caches data from the hard disk. For example, Windows loads multiple required libraries for running in memory.
• Disk cache : Like cache memory, disk cache holds data recently read or written to/from a HD (Hard Disk). This is to speed up subsequent reads from recently accessed data. Most newer hard drives have arounf 8 MB of cache memory.
• Software cache : Software needs cache data into RAM which uses it often. The data software caches is often processed data from file translated by the program into another data structure. Example : Internet explorer, Games etc. use software cache

Cache memories are closer to CPU which stores recently accessed data from RAM. It holds instructions which are to be executed next and variables for the CPU.
Refer RAM vs Cache memory to know difference between RAM and Cache.

difference between L1 L2 L3 Cache memory

Level 1 cache is stored on CPU where as L2/L3 cache are stored near but not on CPU. L1/L2/L3 cache is more expensive than RAM.

L1 Cache Memory

Following are the specifications of L1 Cache (Level 1 cache memory) located on-chip.
• Access time : 2 to 8 ns
• Typical Sizes : 8 KB, 64 KB, 128 KB
• Technology : SRAM
• Managed by : Hardware

L2 Cache Memory

Following are the specifications of L2 cache located off-chip.
• Access time : 3 to 10 ns
• Typical Sizes : 256 KB, 1 MB, 2 MB
• Technology : SRAM
• Managed by : Hardware

L3 Cache Memory

Following are the specifications of L3 cache located off-chip.
• Access time : 10 to 20 ns
• Typical Sizes : 4 to 8 MB (laptop), 8 to 32 MB (Desktop)

Difference between L1 L2 L3 Cache memory

Following table mentions difference between L1, L2 and L3 Cache memory.

Features L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache
• Location It is directly built into the processor and it is used to store CPU's recently accessed information. It is located outside and separated from the CPU chip core. It is used by CPU and it is built on the motherboard within CPU module itself.
• Size Smallest cache Larger than L1 and smaller than L3 Largest cache
• Cache type or name Called level 1 or primary or internal cache Called level 2 or secondary or external cache Called level 3 or external cache
• Speed Fastest cache Slower than L1 but faster than L3 Slowest cache
• Use Each core in CPU has their own L1 cache memory Each core in the CPU has their own L2 cache memory All cores in the CPU share the same L3 cache memory


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