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A level 2 cache (L2 cache) is a CPU cache memory that is located outside and separate from the microprocessor chip core, although, it is found on the same processor chip package. Earlier L2 cache designs placed them on the motherboard which made them quite slow.
Including L2 caches in microprocessor designs are very common in modern CPUs even though they may not be as fast as the L1 cache, but since it is outside of the core, the capacity can be increased and it is still faster than the main memory.
A level 2 cache is also called the secondary cache or an external cache.
The level 2 cache serves as the bridge for the process and memory performance gap. Its main goal is to provide the necessary stored information to the processor without any interruptions or any delays or wait-states. It also helps in reducing the access time of data, especially in certain events wherein that specific data was already accessed before, so it doesn’t have to be loaded again.
Modern microprocessors sometimes include a feature called data pre-fetching, and the L2 cache boosts this feature by buffering the program instructions and data that is requested by the processor from the memory, serving as a closer waiting area compared to the RAM.
The L2 cache was first introduced with the Intel Pentium and Pentium Pro powered computers. Since then, it has always been included with the process, except in the case the early versions of Celeron processors. Although it is not as fast as the L1 cache due to its location, it is still faster than both L3 cache and the main memory. It is also the second priority of the computer when looking at its performance in implementing instructions.