A front-side bus (FSB) is a computer communication interface (bus) that was often used in Intel-chip-based computers during the 1990s and 2000s. The competing EV6 bus served the same function for AMD CPUs. Both typically carry data between the central processing unit (CPU) and a memory controller hub, known as the northbridge.
Depending on the implementation, some computers may also have a back-side bus that connects the CPU to the cache. This bus and the cache connected to it are faster than accessing the system memory (or RAM) via the front-side bus. The speed of the front side bus is often used as an important measure of the performance of a computer.
The original front-side bus architecture has been replaced by HyperTransport, Intel QuickPath Interconnect or Direct Media Interface in modern volume CPUs.
The frequency at which a processor (CPU) operates is determined by applying a clock multiplier to the front-side bus (FSB) speed in some cases. For example, a processor running at 3200 MHz might be using a 400 MHz FSB. This means there is an internal clock multiplier setting (also called bus/core ratio) of 8. That is, the CPU is set to run at 8 times the frequency of the front-side bus: 400 MHz × 8 = 3200 MHz. Different CPU speeds are achieved by varying either the FSB frequency or the CPU multiplier.