The three factors identified here work together to determine how fast a given processor will operate. Sixty-four-bit chips work on twice as much data at once as 32-bit chips, giving them a significant performance boost. Processors with faster external clocks can also exchange data with the computer faster than those with slower external clocks. Finally, processors with more efficient instruction sets that can do more work in fewer clock cycles run more quickly than those that need more cycles to finish an instruction. Once you've made all of those factors equal, compare processors to see which is faster by looking at the internal clock speed's gigahertz rating.
But such applications will require more than just plastic processors, says Wei Zhang, who works on organic electronics at the University of Minnesota. At the same conference where the organic processor was unveiled, Zhang and colleagues presented the first printed organic memory of a type known as DRAM, which works alongside the processor in most computers for short-term data storage. The 24-millimeter-square memory array was made by building up several layers of organic “ink” squirted from a nozzle like an aerosol. It can store 64 bits of information.