The Central Processing Unit

The Central Processing Unit (CPU)

  • The CPU is also known as the “brain” of the computer as it performs most of the processing inside the computer.
  • It executes instructions given to the computer.
  • It manipulates data through a process called the fetch-decode-execute cycle.
  • The speed of a CPU is commonly measured in gigahertz (GHz), with higher values representing faster processing speeds.
  • CPUs with more than one core are capable of executing multiple instructions simultaneously, improving overall performance.

CPU Architecture

  • CPUs boast of large and intricate architecture that lets them process data efficiently.
  • A typical CPU structure includes registers, for temporary storage of data and instructions.
  • It includes an arithmetic logic unit (ALU), used for executing instructions involving calculations and logical operators.
  • The Control Unit (CU) manages the execution of instructions. It controls and coordinates the activities of all the hardware in the computer.
  • The cache is a special type of memory that holds frequently used data to speed up processing.

Role of the CPU

  • The primary role of a CPU is to execute programs using the fetch-decode-execute cycle.
  • It carries out arithmetic and logic operations, as well as inputting and outputting data.
  • It also has a role in the control and timing of other components in the computer system.

CPU Performance Factors

  • Several factors affect CPU performance, including clock speed, the number of cores, and the amount of cache memory.
  • Clock speed determines how many instructions the CPU can execute per second.
  • The number of cores allows for parallel execution of instructions, speeding up processing times.
  • The amount of cache memory lets the CPU store data it uses frequently, reducing the delay of retrieving that data from other parts of the computer.