how fast is assembly?

on a pentium 4 1300, i was able to use( in C/CPP program) only 2 registers that were capable of looping 900M times per second, other variables were 10 time slower.
please tell me how many registers i can use within assembly with same CPU.and can i use CPU cache as RAM for small applicationss?
im thinking of learning assembly but i wanna know the capabilties first.
can i have microseconds timer/clock?
C language had a timer clock of 18.2 ticks per seconds which is not enough
10 print " and i want to learn interrupting from gw-basic"
20 end
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