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What is CPU?

CPU is also known as the Central Processing Unit, processor, central processor, and microprocessor. It carries out all the primary functions of a computer. A CPU receives instructions from both the active software and hardware. It also produces the output accordingly.

It is the function of a CPU to store all essential programs like application software and operating systems. CPU also helps output and input devices to communicate with one another. Because of this, the CPU is also known as the brain of a computer.

A CPU can be installed or inserted into a CPU socket. These sockets are usually located on the motherboard. Further, a CPU is provided with a heat sink. This heat sink helps in absorbing and dissipating heat. This helps in keeping the CPU cool and functioning smoothly. A CPU performs several essential features. Some of those features are:

  • It can perform various type of data processing operations.

  • CPU can store data, instructions, programs, and intermediate results.

  • It controls the functions of all the significant parts of a computer.

The central processing unit has three significant parts. And those parts of CPU are:

  • Storage unit or memory.

  • Control unit.

  • ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit).

In this article, readers will learn the CPU definition, different parts of the CPU, and other important points related to this topic.

The Different Parts of the Central Processing Unit

Let’s first look at the various components of the CPU. We will begin with the storage unit or memory.

  • Storage Unit or Memory

As the name indicates, the storage unit or memory is used to store data, instructions, and intermediate results. This unit must supply information to other computer units in case of any requirement.

The storage unit is also known as the internal storage unit, main memory, Random Access Memory (RAM), or the primary storage. Readers need to remember that the storage unit's size will affect the power, speed, and overall capability of the device.

There are also two types of memories in a computer, including primary memory and secondary memory. Some functions that are performed by the memory unit are:

  • It is used for storing intermediate results of processing.

  • It can store all the data and instructions that are required for processing.

  • All inputs and outputs are transmitted with the help of the main memory.

  • It helps in storing the final results of processing. This is done before these results are released to an output device.

  • Control Unit

The Control unit helps in controlling all operations that are carried out by different parts of the computer. It is also regarded as the circuitry in the control unit. It makes use of electrical signals to instruct the entire computer system for executing various stored instructions.

In the simplest terms, it can be said that the control unit takes instructions from memory and then decodes those instructions. These instructions are used for controlling and coordinating the functioning of the computer.

It is vital to remember that the control unit does not carry out any actual data processing operations. Some functions that are performed by the control unit are:

  • The control unit helps in controlling the transfer of data and instructions among other units of a computer.

  • It helps in managing and coordinating all the units of a computer.

  • It gets the instructions from memory, interprets those results, and directs the entire operation of the computer.

  • It does not perform any function in processing or storing data.

  • It helps in communicating with input/output devices for the transfer of data or results that are taken from storage.

  • Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU).

As the name indicates, this unit mainly consists of two subsections. The first is the arithmetic section, and the second is the logic section. The function of the arithmetic section is to perform various arithmetic operations. Some arithmetic operations that are usually performed include addition, division, multiplication, and subtraction.

You should note that all complex operations are performed by making repetitive use of the operations that are mentioned above. The logic section, on the other hand, performs the function of carrying out logic operations. Some logic operations are comparing, merging, selecting, and matching data.

Also, do you know what the meaning of CPU clock speed is? According to experts, a CPU or processor's clock speed is the number of instructions that the CPU can process in a second.

This speed is measured in gigahertz. For example, if a CPU has a clock speed of 4.0 GHz, then that means that the CPU can process 4 billion instructions in a second.

The Types of CPU

If we look at the market's current statistics, then it is not difficult to deduce that AMD and Intel manufacture most CPUs. Both of these manufactures have built their CPUs. This is not to say that there are not other types of CPUs in the market.

In this section, we will learn just what those different types of CPUs are. We have created a list of those different types of CPUs. And that list is mentioned below.

  • Single Core CPU

This is the oldest type of computer CPUs. These CPUs were used during the 1970s. As the name indicates, these types of CPUs only have a single core that processes different operations.

This means that the CPU can only process operation at a time. The CPU continuously switches between different sets of data streams whenever more than one program is started. This is why this type of CPU is not suitable for multitasking. This is because this would reduce the quality of performance of the CPU.

It is almost essential to note that these CPUs are primarily dependent on the clock speed. These CPUs are also used in various devices to the present day. For example, these CPUs are used in modern smartphones.

  • Dual-Core CPU

Dual-Core CPUs contain two cores within a single Integrated Circuit (IC). Each core also has its cache and controller. These controllers and cache are linked together to work as a single unit. This is why these CPUs can work faster than the single-core processors. These types of CPUs are better at handling multitasking more efficiently in comparison to single-core processors.

  • Quad-Core CPU

Quad-Core CPUs come with two dual-core processors present within a single integrated circuit (IC) or chip. This means that a quad-core processor contains a chip with four independent units, also known as cores.

These cores are capable of reading and executing various instructions provided by the CPU. The cores can also run multiple instructions at the same time. This increases the overall speed for programs that are compatible with parallel processing.

Readers might be interested to learn that quad-core CPUs use a technology that allows all the four independent processing units or cores to run parallelly on a single chip. This integrates the multiple cores within a single CPU. And it results in higher performance that can be generated without even boosting the overall clock speed.

However, it is essential to mention here that the performance can only increase when the computer software supports multiprocessing. If the software supports multiprocessing, then the processing load is divided between the four processors. This works better than just using one processor at a time.

The History of CPU

The CPU history had hit many vital milestones since 1823 when Baron Jons Jakob Berzelius discovered silicon, which is used as the main component for producing CPUs to this day.

Another significant milestone was achieved in 1903 when Nikola Tesla got gates, also known as switches, patented. These gates are used as electrical logic circuits. In December of 1947, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley also invented the first transistor. This was done at the Bell Laboratories and was patented in 1948.

Further, in 1958, the first working integrated circuit was built by Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby. In 1960, IBM established the first facility used for the mass-production of transistors. This was done in New York.

Another significant milestone was achieved when Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore founded Intel Corporation in 1968. AMD or Advanced Micro Devices were launched in May of 1969. And Intel introduced its first microprocessing, called the Intel 4004, in 1971. This was done with the help of Ted Hoff.

Intel was responsible for another victory when it introduced its 8008 processor in 1972, Intel 8086 in 1976, and Intel 8088 in June 1979. Also, during 1979, a 16 / 32-bit processor called the Motorola 68000 was released. This processor was later used for the Apple Macintosh and Amiga computers.

The SPARC processor was also introduced by the Sun in 1987. In March 1991, AMD introduced the AM386 microprocessor family. Intel did not say far behind as it released the Pentium processor in March 1993.

!995 also saw the release of the Cx5x86 processor by Cyrix. This processor gave great competition to the Intel Pentium processors. In January 1999, Intel introduced the Celeron 366 MHZ and 400 MHz processors.

AMD came back in April 2005 with its first dual-core processor. Intel also produced the Core 2 Dual processor in 2006. Intel also introduced the first series of Intel Atom processors, the Z5xx series, in April 2008. These were single-core processors that had a 200 MHz GPU.

Intel did not stop there and released the first Core i5 desktop processor with four cores in September of 2009. In January 2010, Intel released many other processors like Core 2 Quad processor Q9500, the first Core i3 and i5 mobile processors, first Core i3 and i5 desktop processors. In the same year, in July, they also released the first Core i7 desktop processor that had six cores!

In June 2017, Intel introduced its first Core i9 desktop processor, and in April 2018, Intel released its first Core i9 mobile processor. However, this is not where everything ends. The history of CPUs is still being written as you read this.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. What is the CPU?

Answer: A CPU is also known as the Central Processing Unit. CPUs carry out all the computer's primary functions as it receives instructions from both hardware and the active software. CPUs use this information to produce the required output.

Question 2. What are the CPU Types?

Answer: There are mainly three different types of CPUs. Those three types of CPUs are:

  • Single Core: These are the oldest types of CPUs. They have a single core that is used for processing all instructions and information.

  • Dual-Core: These CPUs contain two cores within an available Integrated Circuit (IC).

  • Quad-Core: These types of CPUs have two dual-core processors within a single integrated circuit.

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