Central Processing Unit (CPU)

intel-xeon-5600-cpuA.K.A.

  • CPU Chip
  • Processor
  • Floating Point Unit
  • Microprocessor
  • Little Square Computer Chip

What Is a CPU?

The term “CPU” stands for central processing unit and many in the computing world consider it the brain of your computer.

Just like your brain, the CPU works in conjunction with your computer’s memory to carry out specific commands and tasks.  The CPU sits on a socket on your computer’s motherboard.

On the street (so to speak), CPU’s are simply known as processors.  A small wafer-thin chip with lots of pins on one side of it. The CPU is actually an integrated circuit containing millions of transistors.

What Does a CPU Do?

One must think in terms of human anatomy, it is essentially the brain of your computer. Just like the brain controls your body, the CPU essentially controls and directs all the functions of your computer.

CPU, Microprocessor, Processor or whatever name you decide to give it, is where all the action begins.  Its function is to execute programs stored in the main memory by fetching their instructions, examining them, and then executing them one after another.

 

How Come I can’t See My CPU When I Open my Case?

Even if you remove the cover on your PC and looked for it, you would not see it directly.  That’s because, there’s almost always some sort cooling device sitting on top of it.  Usually, what is called a “heat-sink” (a huge piece of metal) along with a fan, is on top of the CPU.  These two things are needed because a CPU runs at such speed that it generates a tremendous amount of heat and if it is not cooled properly would simply burn up.  The Heat-sink and fan help to remove the heat build up.

 

What Does Dual Core or Quad Core Mean?

The original processors were invented with only one core. This core actually performs the reading and executing of instruction.  As CPU’s have advanced they have gone from having just a single (1) core, to have 2, 3, 4 even 6 cores. Single core processors can handle only one instruction at a time, while a dual core processor contains 2 cores, a quad core contains 4 cores and hex core contains 6 cores.

Having multiple cores allows the CPU to execute several sets of instructions at once. This allows the processor to work much faster, you can see the biggest boost in performance when using Applications like games, graphics, graphics/media editing.

Who Makes CPU’s?

Although the consumer CPU market is dominated by Intel and AMD, there are actually several manufacturers of CPU’s.  The six primary ones that I am familiar with are listed below:

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