So you’ve read numerous articles about what a CPU is, or not; but in this article you won’t see much technical stuff nor scientific explanations. This article will explain simply what a CPU is so you can understand if for good.
What CPU means
CPU is the abbreviation for Central Processing Unit. We like to call the CPU also simple plain Processor.
What a CPU does
The modern CPU is the “brain” of a computer. It does all the calculations that the Software need to do. In fact it is so important that no computer can’t work without it.
It seems that its job is simple but the speed and the number of simultaneous calculations will define how fast our computer runs.
Often we can tell the speed of a computer only by its CPU power.
How fast is a CPU
The speed of a CPU also called clock rate is defined by the internal clock of the CPU. The faster the clock ticks the more instructions a CPU executes. This clock is measured today in Gigahertz (GHz).
For example the Intel Pentium e5200 runs with 2.5 GHz which means it can execute 2.5 billion cycles per second.
The clock speed was a good indicator of the CPU speed until the most modern processors came out.
What the modern processors did and became faster? They didn’t increase the number of cycles per second, but they did increase the number of parallel calculations or the size of the instructions.
Hyperthreading, Dual Core and Multi Core CPUs
Instead of increasing the internal clock speed which costs more and also because the more speed of the electron movement overheats the CPU, the processor companies invented the concept of parallelism.
So at first Intel introduced to its processors the Hyperthreading technology which enabled a Single core processor to run multiple threads at the same time. Of course, to use this technology the software had to support it and split the different processes into many threads.
Hyperthreading revolutionized the execution of processes
For example if you had a CPU with Hyperthreading technology and you would like to encode a video, then the software would split the job into threads (sub-jobs) and execute them simultaneously.
Then AMD has brought for the home users the first Dual Core x64 processors. So what’s exactly the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit technology. The difference lyes to the size of data the CPU communicates each time.
For example you need to say a phrase to a friend which contains 64 words (we assume that 1 word = 1 bit). Now with 32 bit technology you can say only 32 words per time so you need to split the phrase to 2 pieces to say it correctly. But with 64 bit you need only one time to say the whole phrase.
Other benefits of x64 architecture:
- increases the memory limit to 16 exabytes of memory instead to only 4 gigabytes of 32 bit
- you can run more demanding software the same time
- more and more pc games are optimized to x64 technology
- better performance because of the increased data exchange between the computer components
Intel also developed Dual Core CPUs and the idea behind the Multi Core processors is exactly as Hyperthreading was only better. Now instead of threads, entire processes can run in each core as each core is independent from each other. This means that having multiple processes executed together the result is the same as having one super fast CPU and also you get rid of the heat.
Where it fits
The CPU connects directly to the motherboard. There are many kinds of connection types and we call them Sockets. Each CPU has to be the same socket with the Motherboard so it can fit.
All CPUs require a heatsink fanless or not (depend on the model) which allows the CPU to cool down and not overheat. This heatsink connects also to the motherboard.
I would like to hear from you what your experiences with CPUs are? Which CPU was your first and what CPU have you now on your system?