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A clock generator is an electronic oscillator that produces a clock signal for use in synchronizing a circuit's operation. The signal can range from a simple symmetrical square wave to more complex arrangements. The basic parts that all clock generators share are a resonant circuit and an amplifier. The resonant circuit is usually a quartz piezo-electric oscillator, although simpler tank circuits and even RC circuits may be used. The amplifier circuit usually inverts the signal from the oscillator and feeds a portion back into the oscillator to maintain oscillation. The generator may have additional sections to modify the basic signal. The 8088 for example, used a 2/3 duty cycle clock, which required the clock generator to incorporate logic to convert the 50/50 duty cycle which is typical of raw oscillators. Other such optional sections include frequency divider or clock multiplier sections. Programmable clock generators allow the number used in the divider or multiplier to be changed, allowing any of a wide variety of output frequencies to be selected without modifying the hardware. The clock generator in a motherboard is often changed by computer enthusiasts to control the speed of a CPU, FSB, GPU or RAM. Typically the programmable clock generator is set by the BIOS at boot time to the selected value; although some systems have dynamic frequency scaling, which frequently re-programs the clock generator.
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