What is the CPU? Definition, Functions, and More
It is a tremendously complex component. However, it is the brain of each computer or device, but we will try to explain everything in as simple a way as possible so that you can understand the basic concepts of its operation.
A lot more might remain said about a CPU than what we will tell you since it is possible to go deeply into its operating characteristics. However, what we want here is that if you have never heard of it, you can understand its fundamentals so that at least you know what we are talking about.
Also read: PCB: What is it and Why are they so Important in Electronic Devices
Table of Contents
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, which translated means Central Processing Unit. It is one of the vital components you will find in your computer, smartphone or tablet, laptop, and even in watches and practically any electronic device. Without it, they couldn’t function.
The CPU remains often referred to colloquially as a microprocessor or merely a processor, and you can think of it as the brain of any device. It is in charge of processing all the device’s instructions, reading the operating system’s orders and requirements, and the teachings of each of the components and applications.
Like the brain, the CPU is responsible for ensuring everything works correctly and interpreting everything that the operating system or components want to do, establishing the connections, and performing all the necessary calculations to make it work. The more powerful the supercomputer, the faster it will be able to do operations, and the quicker your device will work in general. For instance, when selecting the best laptop for music production, video editing, and other complex tasks, make sure to buy a model with a new-generation CPU.
It is also in charge of reading, interpreting, and processing the instructions first from the operating system and after the programs or applications installed on your computer. When you open Word or your browser, it has to be loaded, and for this, you need to perform a series of steps whose instructions it sends to the processor. Each action you do later inside will also send instructions to be executed and carried out.
Your computer or laptop will have a dedicated CPU to perform all the operations and processes required by the system. Meanwhile, mobiles have the SoC or System on Chip, a chip containing both the CPU and other components, such as integrated graphics chips. With this, SoCs are often able to do more than the functions of standard CPUs.
Functions of CPU
The CPU is usually small, square in shape, and has metal connectors and pins. It remains generally installed on the motherboard of a computer, in a special socket that can be in different places depending on the motherboard. The processor remains not soldered to the board, so you can change the computer’s CPU for another if you want.
The CPU has a minimum of one processor or Core inside, a chip to perform calculations and operations. At first, they all had only one, but over time the CPUs have increased the number of these cores, and there are different ways of calling them depending on this number.
For example, if you have ever heard that a processor is Dual-Core or Dual-Core, it is because it has two of these chips inside. Then they evolved to four, the Quad-Core, and they have remained increased with six, eight, or even 12 cores or more. They stay identified by that name, including the Word Core, but a reference remains first made to the seats.
That the CPU has several processors or cores usually implies that it can perform more operations simultaneously, so its process can be faster and better.
For example, some processors from Intel and AMD, the two leading manufacturers, have technologies that allow them to execute two threads of execution in a single core: the sequences of instructions belonging to the operating system or application. The lines of performance, or cables in English, are the sequences of teachings belonging to the operating system or an application.
What does this mean? In processors with this technology, each physical Core can act as if it were two virtual cores. Since each one can work with two different threads or sequences of instructions.
And then, there is the processor frequency, which remains marked in Gigahertz. The frequency, also called the clock, is what sets the pace with which the processor works.
The work rate remains marked by the ability to perform more actions per second, the better. Since each operation of an application may require several clock cycles or activities.
Ultimately, not only does the number of processors matter but how each one works. The more GHz a processor has, the faster it will be. Keeping it as simple as possible means that if you have a 1 GHz quad-core processor. It will be slower than a 2.5 GHz dual-core processor.
Types of CPU
The CPU of your computer is the one that executes a sequence of instructions and processes their data. These sequences of instructions are those carried out by the programs you have installed on your computer. Come on. They are in charge of carrying out the operations that programs. Or applications need to carry out the tasks you ask them to do.
Several different steps remain followed for this.
The first is to read the data and instructions to perform each of the application tasks.
But this is an extreme simplification since each instruction performs these essential processor functions. And each program may require multiple instructions to act. Besides, these remain not carried out in order. And one after another, the processor may be working with many functions simultaneously for the different active programs.
You have to understand that numbers represent everything on your computer. So the CPU is in charge of collecting and calculating these numbers’ operations. With these operations, exactly everything you do on your computer remains performed. From opening the Windows start menu to watching a video on YouTube, everything requires a series of instructions. And calculations to remain carried out.
In modern computers, the CPU is not the one that does everything since other specialized components tend to interfere. Such as the graphics card for everything related to what you see on the screen. RAM also comes into play to store fast-access data and the rest of the components that are inside your computer.
In this swarm of devices and components, the CPU is the brain or the conductor. Since it is the one who organizes everything so that tasks remain done where they play. And in the way, they must remain done to obtain the desired results.
Components of CPU
The CPU is no more essential than other necessary computer components. Since it will not work without a power supply or other members. Nor is it everything on which the execution of tasks depends. For everything related to the production of videos or the visualization of video games. It is also necessary to have a sound graphics card or GPU and good RAM.
But how fast a computer goes can depend on the speed and power of the CPU. And having a good or lousy CPU will affect the performance of your computer.